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Antonee Robinson looks to provide answer at left back for USMNT


Just one year ago, Antonee Robinson was far from the U.S. Men’s National Team radar. The English-born fullback was pushing his way through the Everton academy, fighting for his chance with a senior team.

Now a Championship regular following a move to Bolton Wanderers, Robinson faces a similar fight with the USMNT, and the 20-year-old fullback is ready to prove himself as he takes another step up.

“If I was ever going to get called up, it’d be a massive chance,” Robinson said, according to “I’ve seen a lot of U.S. fans tweeting at me saying ‘We need a left back’. I know it’s up for the taking. This is a big country with a bright future. I’m glad I’ve got the chance to make an impression now.”

“It’s been really good,” he added. “It’s really professional the way it’s carried out. You have a lot of freedom from the coaching staff to do what you want in your spare time because we’re all professionals. The standard of training is the highest standard I’ve ever trained at. It’s really good.”

The past year has been full of new standards for Robinson. The fullback, who entered Everton’s academy at age 11 and signed his first professional deal at 17, went out on loan to Bolton this past August. He’d been a part of preseason tours with the Premier League club throughout his years but, after suffering a knee injury in his professional debut in 2015, it was time for him to earn legitimate first team minutes.

They’ve come at Bolton. After starting the season in an open competition for the left back spot, Robinson has made 25 appearances for the club in what has been his breakout season.

“I think every young player needs minutes at a men’s level. In my first season, I’ve done alright,” Robinson said. “I started a bit shaky because you’re not sure what to expect in your first season. I’ve grown. I’ve acclimated to the league, and I think I’ve become a better player for it.”

Now, Robinson joins the U.S. Soccer program for the first time since 2014, when he featured in a pair of friendlies at the U-18 level. Much has changed since his only true American soccer experience, and he’s looking to now seize his chance.

At the left back position, Robinson will face competition from the likes of Jorge Villafana, the incumbent starter, as well as the versatile Eric Lichaj and MLS regulars like Greg Garza, Brandon Vincent and Justin Morrow. At 20, though, Robinson is the youngest of the contenders.

The Bolton fullback is one of five  players looking to make his USMNT debut when the team takes on Paraguay on Tuesday and, if it does happen, Robinson will hope to make the most of a chance that seemed very far away just months ago.

“The main strength (of the current team) lies in the quality and composure of the players,” Robinson said. “We all want to play football and we all trust each other with touch and passing It’s been really good.

“It’s definitely a big game. All of the young lads are looking to make a big impression on the coach and we’re all looking forward to it. There’s no inkling yet of what the team will be, but we’re all training really hard and it’s really competitive trying to get your spot. “


  1. @The Imperative Voice – Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or just haven’t been paying attention. Part of the reason we didn’t see many of the German-Americans at the end of the Hex was Arena (Chandler), the other part of the reason was injuries. Fabian, Brooks & even Jones were all dealing with injuries at the end of the Hex. Since we’ve been knocked out….Brooks & Fabian have continued to be sidelined by injuries. Jones has basically left since he can’t find a team.
    At this point the USMNT needs to move on from the older players (Fabian, Bradley, Bedoya, Zusi, Cameron, etc…) and focus on younger options. They need to build towards the 2022 WC, and the rosters need to represent players who can or will be options in the future.
    I agree that we should be done with Lichaj & Villafana, but until we know what we have in Robinson & Moore it doesn’t hurt to have them in camp.

    • In today’s interview, Sarachan said: “We shouldn’t be surprised if we bring some of the older players back early next year”.

      • Sarachan won’t have anything to do with that decision though since there should be shiny new a GM and coach in place by then.
        We absolutely should bring some more experienced players back into the fold next year for the Gold Cup though. We should focus on winning that tournament with the best players available to us. The roster should/will be on the younger side, but we will be at the point of not “giving” away caps to players who aren’t the best in their positions anymore. If the young guys step up and claim a spot thats awesome and we all hope thats the case. No point in sticking with a sub standard player just because he is younger than another though. Start building a young core of our top achievers and let the rest of the pool fill in the gaps over the next 3-4 years would be my preferred methodology.

  2. Timmy Chandler plays right wingback, not leftback at Frankfurt, so clearly you need to watch the bund a bit more. He is mainly used as an offensive weapon and his defense is still a liabililty, albeit a smaller one than it is with the NT because he actually gives a 100% effort.

    • Don’t know why but it never really translates to the International game. Chandler has always – always! – been a much-higher regarded player in the Bundesliga than he was with the Nats, and unlike Fabian Johnson, his game didn’t seem to travel well.

      Might give him another look-over later to see if he’s calmed down, but if not, you kind of have to move on from him. He’s had just way too many atrocious outings.

      • A subtle thing about the pair of games at the end of WCQ was the dual national Germans disappeared. I always wonder what happened. I mean they were not even dressed much less playing. Jones did get old but we’re talking also Brooks, Chandler, FJ. I get they had some good games and some very bad ones. But at the end the backline is like Villafana/Gonzo/Besler/Yedlin, which kind of sucked. We are now bringing back half that backline like nothing happened.

        I mean if you are bringing back Villafana why not Chandler (27) or Brooks (25). If they ever get Brooks right, that sucker would be dominant. Open question if they ever do, but I would rather spend time working on the highest ceiling people than any ol player.

        Off this roster, I would rather see some fresh blood than give Villafana and Lichaj yet another chance. My vote for Robinson just because I don’t associate him with obvious suckage. Lichaj is a repeat flush, and Villafana must have nude photos. You can always cycle back around to older players if you find the grass is not greener. But I dislike beginning the new cycle by giving the same people second chances and incumbency rights.

    • Brooks was injured, so was Jones. Chandler wasn’t invited and I’m not sure if Johnson was playing at that point, I think he was still trying to get playing time for club after his injury.

      • Folks seem to forget that Arena was actually going to call Chandler in for the WCQ’s versus Honduras and Panama in late March but he was serving a one match suspension and it didn’t make sense to have him fly that far for one game. He then invited Chandler back into camp for the T&T and Mexico WCQ’s, as well as the friendly versus Venezuela, only to see him get injured in training reducing him to a withdraw from camp all together. So, can we please not act like Arena didn’t try to get TC back into the pool??!!

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