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Atlanta United Final Exams: Miles Robinson

A center back of contrasts

SOCCER: JUN 20 US Open Cup Round of 16 - Chicago Fire at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Miles Robinson

Position: Defender

Games Played: 10 appearances, 3 starts

Clearances per game: 1

Great performances against New York teams: 1

Not great performances against New York teams: 1

For the most part, Miles Robinson was a useful if still unpolished bench and spot starting option for Tata Martino in 2018. His season was truly a case of high-highs and low-lows, there wasn’t much of a grey area for Robinson this past season, starting in a solid win against LAFC, a bad loss against NY Red Bulls, and a really, really, really, really, beyond words, bad loss against FC Dallas. However, he redeemed himself when it mattered most against NYCFC in the playoffs.

What went right this season:

When things went right for Robinson, he was a good option starting in central defense in both three and four defender formations. With Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez and Franco Escobar unavailable, Tata turned to the center back against the best MLS expansion team in history to lose to Atlanta United 5-0 as LAFC was unable to get anything going in attack against the Five Stripes. Meanwhile, on the road in Orlando, Robinson started alongside Michael Parkhurst and LGP helping to secure a 2-1 win in his second start of the season.

However, aside from one more start, he wouldn’t see the field for more than 10 minutes in the regular season once Escobar was fully healthy and Eric Remedi joined the team making it feasible for Jeff Larentowicz to play center back.

Possibly the most surprising part of Atlanta’s run to MLS Cup was his start against NYCFC. Holding a slim 1-0 lead against the explosive team, Robinson had an excellent game helping the Five Stripes secure a 3-1 victory and move onto the Eastern Conference final.

What he needs to improve on:

Not doing whatever it is that happened against NY Red Bulls and FC Dallas ever again. In short, Robinson needs to show that he can reduce simple errors and lapses in concentration to become a starter for Atlanta Untied. He’s still young, especially for a center back and his showing in the playoffs was promising, but the clock is ticking.

Against New York Robinson fouled Bradley Wright-Phillips setting up a penalty for the first goal for NYRB in what would become a memorable disaster for the Five Stripes. That would be Robinson’s last start for Atlanta in 2018.

However, it would not be the last fans would see of him. His next six appearances would be mostly unremarkable as Atlanta looked to close out games - or ended up giving up late leads. On that last point, Robinson was a late sub on the 4th of July at FC Dallas when Tata took off Ezequiel Barco in the 83rd minute moving to a five defender formation holding a 2-1 lead. The problem was that both Robinson and Mikey Ambrose stepped to THE ASSISTER as Tesho Akindele went unmarked to even the score at two. Robinson wasn’t quite at fault for the third goal but was standing front and center of a collective defensive failure to clear a late corner as Dallas took all three points on the night.

It wasn’t all bad though. If anything, Tata Martino seemed to take from the loss that his best option for closing out games was to put on Barco and Tito Villalba to push for late goals rather than just try to stop them.

What role will he play in 2019:

It is really hard to say. With Frank de Boer, Robinson will need to show that he can adapt to a new system of play and not let the mental errors that led to the penalty against New York and partially allowed the goal in Dallas continue to be a part of his game. He is also looking up at the depth chart behind Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez, Franco Escobar, and Michael Parkhurst at center back, possibly with others thrown in the mix as well. That said, if Robinson can put forth the effort he did against NYCFC again, he could be in the mix for more starts in 2019.

Grade: C