August 25, 2012
Robles on the bench, but ready to play
By Kristian R. Dyer
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – In January, the agent for Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles fielded a call from a MLS club with interest in his services. Playing in Germany for second division side Karlsruher, it was the first time in a long time that Robles contemplated a return stateside.
Signing with Karlsruher in 2010, Robles made 28 appearances with the club, part of the 64 matches he played in after moving to Germany in 2007. But things became difficult and playing time sparse at Karlsruher, limiting his field time to only five appearances last season. When he was released this past summer, he remembered the interest that the MLS club had in him.
On Aug. 8, the Red Bulls selected Robles in Major League Soccer's allocation process.
“I think just personally, a lot has happened this past year with my family and my career. When the opportunity came up in January, it was the first time I gave it thought,” Robles told BigAppleSoccer.com.
“It didn’t materialize but it put the thought there. So when a club contacted me in June, it seemed like a good opportunity. But given my situation, I had to go through the allocation process which was confusing, but it ended up well.”
On the surface, it seems puzzling that Robles would call being taken by New York as a situation that “ended up well” – and that is no slight on the team.
The Red Bulls are stacked near-term and long-term at the goalkeeper position.
Ryan Meara, unheralded as a draft pick who turned into a rookie of the year candidate until hip surgery ended his season, could potentially have an international career with Ireland and is arguably the best young goalkeeper in the league.
Acquired last month, Bill Gaudette has been more than solid in goal and recently was beyond impressive in Puerto Rico’s 2-1 loss to Spain, the top-ranked team in the world. There’s also Jeremy Vuolo, a young goalkeeper with European experience and a solid college pedigree.
So ending up with the Red Bulls given their crowded situation at goal doesn’t seem like the best fit for Robles.
“Of course every player in the professional ranks wants to be playing, that goes without saying," he said after Red Bulls practice at Montclair State University earlier this week. "This club is a tremendous opportunity. Being here for 10 days, wow, it has been amazing as a player, for my family. I just want to help this team.
“I want to contribute on the field but I can help Bill stay sharp, I can help Jeremy stay sharp. I want to be on the field but if it is in practice, I want to give my 100 percent.”
Having never played in MLS, it is a transition for Robles, who played for the Red Bulls reserves on Tuesday in a 1-0 loss at Montreal. He earned praise from coach Hans Backe for his performance in that game and in training this week.
Capped once by the United States during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the move wasn’t predicated on a desire to necessarily play more for the national team.
“I think if you had asked me that a couple years ago, I would have said yes," Robles said. "Some circumstances have happened in the last few years that, well, I always had the mentality that if I worked hard enough, it would happen."
“Coming to MLS, I had the simple goal of putting myself in the best position to play. The results will fall as they will. All I can control is my work, if the results fall that way and I’m called up again, we’ll see.”