There are plenty of players that get emotional when they prepare to face off against a former team for the first time.
Luis Robles is not one of those players.
Robles is set to help lead Inter Miami into a Wednesday night battle vs. the New York Red Bulls, the club he represented for the better part of a decade before joining the expansion side in South Florida this past offseason. The Eastern Conference clash at Inter Miami CF Stadium will mark the first time that Robles plays his old team, but do not expect many warm and fuzzy moments from the veteran goalkeeper.
“I’m not the most sentimental person. I think this is one of those moments where it plays to my advantage,” said Robles on Tuesday. “It will definitely be fun to play those guys, but there isn’t necessarily a ton of me that thinks, ‘Man, this is such a special game.’
“Honestly to me, without coming off as trite, it is just our next game.”
Robles may be all business going into the midweek match against the team he spent eight seasons and won three trophies with, but he admittedly still looks back fondly on his time with the Red Bulls.
Who could blame him? No, his departure was not exactly picture perfect, but the Red Bulls still revived his career back in summer 2012 just as he was working in realty and seriously considering calling time on his soccer career after a rough stint in Germany.
“When I say that it was an incredible experience, I don’t say that lightly,” said Robles. “When I think about what that club just provided for my family, I can’t help but smile. Did it end the way I wanted to? Not necessarily, but it’s sports.
“… For them to take me in and make me one of their own and to really allow my career to progress as a player and a person and as a leader, (nothing) will sour anything about that experience.”
It is clear the 36-year-old netminder cherishes his time with the Red Bulls, but his current focus is on helping Inter Miami continue its ascent in the Eastern Conference. The new MLS franchise is in 11th place in the table right now, just one point shy of a playoff spot after going 2-1-2 over the last five games.
Robles wants to do everything he can to ensure that recent success continues, which on this occasion just happens to mean having to beat many of his old teammates.
“Today when I trained and I was considering what they do on set pieces and who could be on the field, it really just felt like another game,” said Robles. “What we’re trying to accomplish here at this organization, playing them is just part of that process. We have yet to play two games in a row where we won both of them and that is really our objective now.”
A couple of things working in Inter Miami’s favor are that the Red Bulls recently underwent a coaching change and are going through a rough patch after winning just once in their last six matches.
Another positive for Inter Miami is that its players will have family in attendance on Wednesday rooting them on in a home game for the very first time. That means that, in an ironic twist of fate, the same family that Robles created while with the Red Bulls will now be cheering for him in person as an Inter Miami member against his former club.
For many players, all of that would make for a special and emotional game. Robles, however, does not see like that. Not for himself anyway.
“I know for my kids, they are excited for daddy to play against the New York Red Bulls,” said Robles. “I think it is strange and every once in a while they do wear their Red Bulls’ gear still, but their preference is definitely the black and pink right now.”