Two years ago, Miles Robinson made Syracuse Orange men’s soccer history as the highest ever MLS Superdraft pick, after he left the Hill for a Generation Adidas contract.
The path he took was a bit circuitous. The Arlington, Mass. native, who stayed in the Northeast for school at Syracuse, was selected by the fresh expansion team Atlanta United, with the second overall draft pick in the 2017 draft. He was the team’s first ever draft pick, but the team sent him down to the Charleston Battery, their USL affiliate at the time to play out the season with former Orange Skylar Thomas. He was then loaned last year to the newly minted Atlanta United 2 side, the reserve team for Atlanta. He started 14 matches for the USL team, and impressed enough to be called up to the MLS side numerous times over the year.
His hard work at the USL level and when back training with the senior team was rewarded later in the year and he was called up to the main roster, playing in some cup ties and gaining valuable experience. The experience paid off at the end of last year. Robinson was forced to deputize in the starting back line for injured veteran Jeff Larentowicz during the playoff run for Atlanta. He played the full 90 against a solid NYCFC back line and received plaudits for his work in that game. The squad won that game handily, 3-1, and went on to win MLS Cup in their second year, not without Robinson stepping up when he did.
Robinson has taken that little grasp of the starting XI and run with it. He got the opportunity this year to start for Larentowicz and is now the central centerback in Atlanta’s three man defense. He’s been the starter for all three of the MLS matches played this season as well as all four of their CONCACAF Champion’s League (CCL) contests. Through all of that, he’s played at the high level that you would have expected of him after watching him wear Orange.
Through Atlanta’s early season struggles, Miles has been a bright spot in a team that can’t seem to find itself. He’s won the Golden Spike, the Atlanta award for man of the match at home games, for his effort against Philadelphia this last weekend, with an amazing goal line clearance, and overall defensive performance. He was the man of the match in their CCL home leg against Monterrey, putting Rayados forward Rogelio Funes Mori in his pocket and not letting him out. Robinson’s one on one defending was impressive at Syracuse, but he has definitively improved it over his time in the professional ranks.
His game has always been predicated on positioning and awareness. When he was at Syracuse, there was an air of him knowing exactly where a ball was coming in before the passer would even strike it. His head found everything that came near it, and there was rarely a misstep. This has all translated very well to the MLS level this season. The young centerback has demonstrated an innate sense of positioning, especially when left on an island by his partners Leandro Pires-Gonzalez and Michael Parkhurst getting forward.
This form has been enough to get Robinson noticed by the likes of US Soccer. It seems that new US National Team coach Greg Berhalter is keen on what Miles has accomplished this year and how he looks on the field at present. He has now officially been called by new head coach Jason Kreis into the US U-23 camp this month, to prep for Olympic Qualifying, which will occur this fall. Robinson isn’t a stranger to the US Youth setup, as he does have eight caps with the U-20 US National Team, assisting them in qualifying for the last U-20 World Cup.
Miles will be competing for time in the National Team with fellow defenders Julian Araujo, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Marco Farfan, Jack Maher, Matthew Olosunde , Donovan Pines, Lucas Pos, and Antonee Robinson. With that roster, I wouldn’t be surprised that based on current form, the former Orange gets to start for the Stars and Stripes with likely Cameron Carter-Vickers. The other centerbacks in contention are Araujo, Pines and Pos. Araujo has one five minute appearance for the LA Galaxy this season, Pines is on loan at Loudoun United in the USL and Pos is playing in the Swiss fourth division.
The roster in general looks quite talented, with known quantities in Timothy Weah, Josh Sargeant, and Djordje Mihailovic who area already capped for the senior men’s national team. Also two other former ACC standouts are on the roster, forward Jeremy Ebobisse and midfielder Cameron Lindley. Lindley was a two year player at UNC, while Ebobisse was a starter at Duke for two as well.
It would be great to see Robinson get the nod in the start of central defense with CCV (Tottenham Hotspur on loan at Swansea City) and a great testament to what he’s done on the field this season. Combine those two with Antonee Robinson (Everton on loan at Wigan Athletic) and Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United) and you’ve got a quite talented back four to anchor your team for the tournament. The United States really need to qualify for this tournament and it’s great to see that they’re putting some faith in Robinson to deliver on that need.