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With questions at the left-back position, Robinson ready to show he is the answer


If Antonee Robinson wants to lock down the starting left-back position for the USMNT, he knows he must make the most of the upcoming friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland.

In eight senior appearances for the USMNT, Robinson has struggled to adapt to Gregg Berhalter’s system and there are other current options at the position. Right-back Sergiño Dest is comfortable on the left, doing so against Panama in November and Sam Vines is emerging as a domestic option.

“I don’t think any position seems guaranteed and we’ve got a massive pool of players,” Robinson said Monday. “There might be overpopulation on the right and Sergiño is very constant on the left as well. So everyone’s got to be at their very best to get a shot started in this team. Hopefully, if I manage to perform well in the next few games coming up, then I can try and lock this position down for the tournament (Nations League), and then the World Cup qualifying.”

Facing off against Jamaica for his second time on Thursday, he is eager to show that this time out will be different albeit a friendly.

“Last time I played against Jamaica I wasn’t particularly happy with how I performed in that game,” Robinson said. “I want to write that wrong and put in a performance and that’s kinda my goal for this camp.”

Robinson earned his first senior call-up since November 2019, starting in the 0-0 draw against Wales, but he did not look like a player that features regularly for a Premier League side.

“Against Wales, I don’t think that was a massively strong performance for me,” Robinson said. “Personally, I feel like it was a good opportunity for me to get to a grips with how the team plays and learn about playing with each other.”

At the club level, Robinson is one of the best defenders in the Premier League at going forward, but for the National Team he is asked to be on the ball more and be an asset in possession. He acknowledges that there are many aspects of his game that he needs to refine.

“The main thing that I need to keep working on is more on the technical side or on decision making and retaining the ball, which is something I’m obviously trying to get better at all the time and trying to improve,” Robinson said.

Despite the struggles, Robinson sees himself as a valuable part of the USMNT squad, but admitted that going one year between call-ups made it challenging to adapt to what is asked of him at the international level.

“At the start I feel like it was a big adjustment getting used to international football in general,” Robinson said. “Now I’ve been called up the last few times I’m constantly working on trying to keep myself in this team and contribute to our goal, which is that we want to win as much as possible, and I’m looking forward the opportunity to do that.”

COVID-19 has also impacted the amount of time the USMNT has been able to spend together, and with Nations League and World Cup qualifying on the horizon, Robinson was clear that the vision of the team remains unchanged.

“We want to win trophies, we want to change the way that the world views American soccer,” Robinson said. “All the time is coming up is a very good opportunity for us to prove that we want to be taken seriously. It’s a good team with a chance to win things and there’s a lot of young hungry players.”

For club, Robinson and Fulham are currently in the middle of a relegation battle, sitting in 18th place and in one of the three automatic relegation spots. Having spent time in relegation battles with Bolton and Wigan Athletic in the Championship, the pressure is nothing new for the 23 year-old American.

“We know we are good players and that we are going in the right direction with everything we are working on and that seems to be bearing fruit at the moment towards the end of the season,” Robinson said. “Until it’s impossible for us to stay on, we’re gonna keep fighting towards that. And whether it comes in the next few games or it’s the very last day against Newcastle that we have to battle, stay on, that’s what we’ll do.”




  1. Robinson is still young and he’s a starting defender in the premier league. It matters. It’s not just a piece of paper – he had to win that job and keep it, and that’s this year, day in and day out. This is a lot more important than one mediocre friendly on a US team that had never played together. He has a real credential which he is continually earning. He’s obviously a good investment for us- I don’t know why you’re so riled up. There is no unfair bias towards PL players. There is warranted bias towards them. None of our other LB options are on the field defending against the kind of offensive talent he sees all the time. And Richards’ club status absolutely matters but people look at him as a CB. Then you’re down to the Portuguese league and MLS for your next choices. I’d invest in Robinson any day of the week.

    • Totally agreed with you. I simply skip the comments from this crazy arrogant guy who thinks he’s the only human that knows football.

    • You are confusing “look at” with “is.” Richards has played a few times for Bayern, the best team in Europe, wide. Both sides of the field. This season. Similarly, there are a few other backs who while stereotyped as “RB” have about 20% of their club starts as “LB.” Why is fanboy misperception or the drive to pigeonhole overriding WHERE SAINTED BAYERN THINKS HE COULD ALSO PLAY? Dest sucks as a LB. Dest gets tried both sides. Why are we trying so hard to find some players room but not others? Richards was supposed to be the prized U20 of his class and it’s almost like we’re trying as hard as we can to find an excuse to leave him off. Let’s pigeonhole him as a CB and then sit him behind Ream or Miazga!
      Absurd. This is like a HS-level coaching mistake. Someone who apparently stares holes in game log spreadsheets should know Richards can also play wide. If LB was a done deal, fine, but it’s not. Robinson has had plenty of chances. He has not won the position. Never. Tell me the NT game he dominated and made it his own. Exactly. Maybe if we give him 20 more caps he might have a good game!

    • Also, all due respect, but he is not some central player or combining attacker, his deficiencies vs Wales were in staying with his man and unforced passing errors. That cannot be blamed on chemistry. A wingback tends to be on an island with a job to do by himself and is either up to it or not.
      For that matter, when the sales pitch is, “yes, we cut him before, but he changed,” when we play the next game, where is my change? Don’t give me chemistry. Y’all told me something different was coming back than the error prone player who got cut. I saw the same player both sides of the chasm. I am not the one with the subjectivity hopefulness problem here. I am just pointing out a problem player one side of his hiatus didn’t come back magically fixed. The same argument was made about Yedlin and Newcastle and experience is he only got worse, not better.

    • Last point, your league based analysis is silly and time specific when FFC is one foot on a banana peel to being a Championship team again in a few short months. At which point I think that’s well below the B.1, La Liga, lateral to Portugal or MLS. So what. You are confusing what being on City would say with what being on yoyo Fulham says. Being on Fulham is not much different than being on Norwich, Swansea, or Barnsley. Next season those teams (give or take) will be swapped out.

      You’d be better off looking at individual talent and with him that’s a more complicated discussion. He’s kind of a one note player. All crosses. Not many assists. Not a great defender. I think we can do better and this obsession — as with Zardes, Aaronson, and a few others — is specific to this coach and his followers.

  2. bemused that someone sarachan dropped and berhalter himself cut is seen as the supposed fix. wales was his chance to win it back. how did that go?
    that speaks more to the continued 2018 mentality of going in circles among usual suspects, than him winning the position. giving up and stopping looking is not the same thing as winning the job by performance.

    • i think the story goes that he signed a sheet of legal paper with a team that fixed it all. richards and others have filled out paperwork with their agents as well. maybe at better clubs even.

      • if you know the story, it follows easy. he was first capped 3 years ago. showed initial promise and then got absolutely burned by brazil and others in the fall. dropped by sarachan at the end of his interim period. gone for the first half of berhalter’s first year. brought in for one game before gold cup, we lost, he got cut. left off for nations league. basically left off for a year. signs a contract with fulham and suddenly all is fixed — who cares if FFC is on pace to be relegated back to the division where he was playing before. gets a new cap against wales last fall and grades out at 5/10 looking nervous and getting run at. apparently in some minds that makes you the solution. where i come from i think if you’ve been cut twice this cycle that’s a little premature at best. where i come from if you have never earned the job by playing well that is what i will charitably call premature.

        too much of what we do is fanboy hype that is not even applied consistently. richards has played some LB for teams far better than fulham, but his club status doesn’t mean anything apparently.

        re going in circles, the pattern last cycle at CB was rotating among cameron ream besler gonzo. one would screw up, lose the job, but we would just pick one of the other recent screwups to replace them. which is how gonzo is on the field for TnT. my thing is before we get in some situation where arbitrary narrowing puts a shaky player on the field, give some other people a chance. richards has gotten 10′. gloster has gotten zip. but let’s just assume our best choice is someone who got cut twice by the US this cycle and missed about 2 years as a result. “it’s obviously him.” fanboy bull.

      • Interesting that in Imperative’s world people never improve , apparently And who is Robinson’s replacement? You cite Richards, but most people see him in the right CB role. Vines looked good in one friendly, but hasn’t done better than pretty good with the U -23’s so far . Is Dest on the left and Cannon or Yedlin on the right better than Robinson on the left and Dest on the right? I don’t think so , but it certainly is no slam dunk since Dest is doing so well on the right .

      • dest absolutely sucked on the left. that is what “brought back” robinson was GB thought dest would take left and then he was getting repeatedly burned including for a mexico goal when we lost 3-0. dest then got moved right because we are desperate to shoehorn that single assist on the field.
        this is typical of the Internet Game here. you leave off Lichaj, Richards, Gloster and a few others and then play the “who else” lack of imagination game. you then basically suggest rotating between frustrating players in precisely the manner i just described us doing at CB. this time it would be Lovitz Ream Robinson Dest. we assume our conclusion before trying anyone else, and rotate players none of whom have to actually seize the job by playing well for the Nats.
        beneath the struggle at LB is the stubborn silly assumption that we need a natural left back who gets forward for offense. as i explained on the long article, if you look at the actual numbers many of the players adored for supposed offense contribute like one assist every three years. in which case give me back defensive competence. i think any wingback with defensive competence could play either side. i did in college. they should have two feet by now……

      • it is not that in my world players “never improve,” it is that i watch for performance and not hype. i have been hearing the same talking points on yedlin and robinson and quite a few other major league players. they come back and play the same. or did you miss where i pointed out wales was not impressive? he went away, came back, looked the same. for your argument to be work at some point this theoretical club form has to pay off for the Nats. otherwise you have club scouting confused with NT performance. plenty of history with the US of players with club reputations who couldn’t get the job done internationally…….put up or shut up…..US needs to go back to being about the players who show up and perform and get wins in the shirt, not this resume contest crap……

      • robinson keeps getting treated like a partly formed newly pro U20 with promise beyond his resume when he is really a 7th year professional aged 23, who has been bouncing around england his whole career. just curious where this supposed uptick is supposed to come from. from going to a yoyo club? people do realize he was at everton and washed out? i could get the hype if he was signing from youth select or college. i could get the hype if he was making his first big move abroad.

      • I suggested several alternatives to Robinson. IV’s suggestion of Li8cha j is laughable. He failed when he was given at starting position at Aston Villa due to injuries of those ahead of him. He’s too old now to be much of a help in the future. I discussed several other possibilities, but not mentioning all conceivable options isn’t good enough I guess. As for Robinson, I saw a game earlier this season where he basically shut down Mo Salah. Maybe IV has heard of Salah;he’s considered to be one of the best in the world. So, despite what IV may aver, Robinson is more than just hype and he goes against some of the best players in the world week in and week out. Whenever I have seen him he is adequate to very good. A starter in the EPL makes you a starter most anywhere else. He is certainly more qualified than any LB the US has had in a long time.

    • I’m actually more in the IV camp on Robinson but to be clear Robinson didn’t get cut by Sarachan he was injured for Dave’s last two friendlies. He was originally named to the roster but was removed due to injury, he was out from Nov. 24 to Mar. 5.

      • which would matter if GB then picked him right back up. GB instead funneled him to U23 for the spring games, brought him in for one friendly before GC, cut him, played others for GC and NL for the balance of 2019. so what you have is a player who showed issues end of 2018, disappeared, got one chance, got cut after the friendly loss, got another chance a couple years later “because Fulham contract” or “because Fulham form,” grades out at a nervous 5. personally i think it’s nuts that a player goes from cut to starting without ever playing another NT game much less showing well. in the normal world if you are cut for having issues you come back to the bench and see time if you FIX YOUR ISSUES. diego costa tore him up for a goal in the brazil loss. has he fixed that or not.

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