Red Bulls Luis Robles bounces back in big way

(Image, New York Red Bulls Facebook)

(Image, New York Red Bulls Facebook)

Whether New York Red Bulls starting goalkeeper Luis Robles has a bad game or not, he always comes into a match prepared.

Much like he did against Chris Pontius in the playoffs last season, or even against Chris Wondolowski before Roy Miller’s infamous encroachment earlier this year, Robles is a student of the game and brings that preparation into each match.

“I think that part of our strategy as a team is to study our opponent every week and it just so happened that last week [against D.C. United] he did take the penalty,” Robles noted. “The one thing that helped about it was not necessarily the direction he went, but that he takes a stutter step. If I would have not known that beforehand, then maybe I would have went to early or sold myself too quickly – it just worked out for us.”

This time, his studious work comes at a vital time. Robles has been under the microscope by the team and media this season. Lapses in concentration have followed him sporadically in various competitions, most recently against Toronto FC where he was directly at fault for a late game-tying goal.

His lack of consistency forced New York to look towards other options, so they signed veteran Kevin Hartman as insurance. Ryan Meara, meanwhile, is nearing game fitness as well.

With options surrounding the coaching staff, Robles needed a big game. This was it.

“Robles is a great goalkeeper, and like I said to him last week, it’s going to happen throughout the year where certain players make mistakes,” Tim Cahill said. “We’re a team, we get each other out of it, and this week he got Brandon [Barklage] out of it from giving a penalty away – at the end of the day, that’s what a team is all about.

“That’s what I always say to these guys. It’s not about individuals; it’s about biting the bullet together and that’s what we did today. It was a great save, and then in the end to nick the win like we did, overall it was fantastic.”

Robles couldn’t agree more.

“I think for us that this was a huge road win,” he said. “It’s one of those wins that we can look back and know that we can be that team if we need to gut it out for 90 minutes and just scrap to somehow find a goal – we’re able to do that. By doing that today, we know, and we can be confident for the rest of the season, as a team, that we’re capable of that”

Of course, it all started in net. Without his shutdown play at the line, Cahill would never have had the chance to tie the match. In one week, Robles has gone from goat to hero, and that momentum may earn him security between the pipes.

“He was huge for us, even aside from the penalty save, which was unbelievable,” head coach Mike Petke said. “Robles was big, he was commanding in the box, and he controlled the tempo of the game at times which is huge for a goalkeeper – I’m very happy with his performance.”