September 23, 2013
AND THE SUN ALSO RISES
Red Bulls expect Robles to make those big saves and he makes one special one vs. Dynamo
By Michael Lewis
|Luis Robles has become an important part o the Red Bulls' success.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, N.J. -- Luis Robles made a game-winning save for the Red Bulls in their 1-0 victory over FC Dallas on Sunday night.
And the sun also rises.
The Red Bulls goalkeeper continued his stellar play even if he was called on to make only one save in the game, which propelled the Red Bulls atop the Supporters Shield table.
Of course, you might want to make the case that Robles has been a human shield for the Red Bulls this season, coming up with timely saves. On Sunday, Robles was called on only once to save his teammates' hides, but that was more than enough.
"Heís a vital part of our football team. I said in the first half, I said to him, 'That one could win us the game,' and it ended up winning us the game," midfielder Tim Cahill said. "So Luis was fantastic tonight again."
The key word was -- again.
Robles was given the starting role because last year's rookie sensation, Ryan Meara, was still recovering from his hip injury.
After a slow and sometimes stumbling start, Robles has come on as the season has dragged on. There always was the specter of Meara taking over for him.
So, Robles knew there was pressure on him earlier this season.
"Iím not oblivious to it but I think I felt more towards my teammates," he said. "When I was on the field, I wanted to be able to not only play well for them, but also let them know, that I got their backs. There were some really difficult moments but I got support from them and that helped a lot.
And Robles has paid that back in spades. He is the only Red Bull to have played every minute (2,700) of every Major League Soccer match. He moved into a sixth-place tie with Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson in goals-against average at 1.20. Robles also tied five other players for the MLS league in shutouts with 10 apiece. And, he has not surrendered a goal in 252 minutes or since the 4-1 win at the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 8, when Jason Johnson solved him in the 18th minute at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Needless to say, Robles' confidence has grown since the beginning of the season.
"Well, itís just been an adjustment," he said. "At the beginning of the season there were a lot of changes. I was working with a new coach, new coaching staff, new players, new faces. I knew that during that rough patch if I could just continue to keep my mind on the way I wanted to play and continue to work hard, and get pick up support from the guys."
Robles praised his defense -- the quartet of David Carney, Markus Holgersson, Jamison Olave and Kosuke Kimura -- who helped with the clean sheet -- and other players who have started and come off the bench in the opening 30 games.
"It just continues to show that there were some things we needed to work out at the beginning of the season, middle of the season, and at the beginning of the season," Robles said. "Everyone was saying that we couldnít finish games. But if you look at the way we played the last 10 games, itís starting to show the fruits of our labor. Being diligent and disciplined, and working hard each and every week. So huge credit to not only the back four, but the team in general for putting in 90 minute work defensively."
And give some credit to Robles for that save on Sunday night.
The Red Bulls defense -- team and backline -- so well that the visitors got off only one shot -- when Fabian Castillo bolted in on goal in first-half stoppage time. Robles was up to the task, knocking away the attempt.
"He was coming in at a pretty tight angle, so I figured I could close out that post and kind of entice him to go to the back post and he did," Robles said. "And lucky for me, he hit more of a dink, he didnít just smash it. But I think that was the only shot on goal that our defense gave up."
Added midfielder Jonny Steele: "Huge save. Luis comes up big for us a lot of times, you know. At the end of the day, thatís his job. You get one shot and you expect him to save it."
Those are some great expectations, indeed.