Robles, Meola relationship goes full circle with record-breaking moment

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

HARRISON, N.J. – Some New York Red Bulls fans already look at Luis Robles as a club legend. On Saturday night, he added to his lore.

After tying Tony Meola’s franchise record for shutouts last weekend against New York City FC (25), the Arizona native managed to blank Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and the rest of the high-powered Toronto FC offense en route to his seventh shutout of the season, pushing Robles past Meola for the club record.

“I think it’s pretty cool cause growing up, I looked up to Tony,” Robles said after the match. “He was such an icon on that ’94 World Cup team, and of course, playing for the MetroStars and then the Red Bulls, he’s an icon in this area and continues to be very involved in soccer.”

That “icon” also helped Robles in his transition from a late season acquisition for the Red Bulls in 2012 to the undeniable starter he is today.

It is easy to forget that Robles was a shot-in-the-dark signing for Hans Backe and his Red Bulls just three short years ago. The once-promising American born goalkeeper eschewed a career in MLS for the bright lights of European football. However, things did not go as hoped for Robles, bouncing from 1. FC Kaiserslautern II to 1. FC Kaiserslautern and finally Karlsruher SC where he was relegated to bench duties.

With Ryan Meara falling to injury and Bill Gaudette floundering, New York took a flier on Robles, who closed out the season with the club.

Hoping to end the club-hopping and establish roots for his growing family, Robles decided to make a run at the Red Bulls starting position. That winter, he reached out to U.S. National Team legend Tony Meola for assistance.

“One day out of the blue, I got a call from an unknown number,” Meola recalls. “I answered it and it was Luis Robles.

“At that point, he was just coming back to the league and trying to establish himself as a starter in the league. He told me there were a couple of things he wanted to work on and if I had time to work with him,” Meola continued. “I said yeah, absolutely. I always have time for guys that care about getting better — especially in this position.”

The two men began working out in the offseason alongside local journeyman keeper Chris Konopka. “[Robles] would drive down a couple of times a week to the bubble by me,” Meola said. “He would come down and say ‘today I would want to work on something specific,’ and we would do it.

“From that point on, I kind of had an affinity for following him. This is a guy who clearly loved what he was doing and was trying to get better at it. I was happy to lend a hand at that point and hopefully it was a period he felt he maybe turned the corner a little bit.”

After surpassing Meola’s mark this weekend against Toronto FC, Robles shared his feelings, not just about the milestone — but indeed, the influence of Meola on his game.

“He’s been involved with my career here at Red Bull, and I only have positive things to say about Tony,” he began. “I know he was honored last game so for him to be there, that was special, and as soon as the week starts, he’ll probably send me a text saying, ‘congratulations.’ He’s such a class act and a great role model.”

Likewise, Meola took to Twitter immediately after the match to express his congratulations as well:

It was a moment that brought both Meola and Robles full circle. Robles surpassed the franchise record of his childhood hero — the very childhood hero that helped him get his career back on track.

As far as Red Bull history goes, both men will have their names intertwined for years to come.

With records aside, Meola now looks forward to the next chapter in the still-budding career of Luis Robles.

“I am proud of him,” Meola said. “When I first met him, it was a time when I am not so sure Red Bull really believed in him. He knew he had a long road ahead of him and he got his opportunity and he took it.

“As far as goalkeepers go, he is probably the most underrated goalkeeper in Major League Soccer in my opinion,” Meola said. “If anyone has the opportunity to just be around him, he is just a good guy. I am really, really proud of him.”

 

  • Dr.love of soccer

    Just wait for the playoffs, the east is weak and is a mess. Obviously red bull are hot right now and every player will look good as well in the field but, something tells me Columbus and Montreal might be scary playoff teams and if NYC make it, then we might see red bull vs NYC series.

    • What – thats all you have to say to this article?

      • Anonymous

        MLS has underrated goalkeepers.

  • Great article! Love these pieces – This sentence says it all!!

    Robles surpassed the franchise record of his childhood hero — the very childhood hero that helped him get his career back on track.

    Luis and Tony – Legends!

  • Kevin

    Excellent article. I think Meola is great for soccer here in NJ and I agree i think Robles is very underrated

  • RedBallz

    Wow we broke the five comments barrier on a Red Bulls article! Man interest in this team is at an all-time high. No point in going to see a game though unless they are playing NYCFC.

    • slowleftarm

      Nearly 21k at the last game aka 5 times more than Cosmos got the same weekend.

      • RedBallz

        20 years in the league and we can outdraw a minor league soccer team that plays at a college. Yeah…..that’s success.

        • slowleftarm

          I figured you were a Cosmos fan. Funny all you guys talk about is how many people show up at your games. That’s great (although it’ll be more impressive a few seasons in when your still at the baseball stadium) but I worry more about what happens on the field. This year RBNY won 3 out of 3. Now I know why you focus on attendance numbers. It beats talking about Fat Frank.

          • Snooki

            Yeah, you told him! They’ll be sitting at home come playoffs watching our inevitable collapse as always…..oh wait.

          • Rip

            Congrats on those wins. It must be nice to comfort yourself that you’re better than an expansion team since you’ve won exactly one more game than NYCFC against the rest of the league. The arrogance of you guys is pretty amazing for a team that has yet to distinguish themselves in anything but the failure to succeed.

            • Reuben Kincaid

              Expansion? !! Ha! You’re no expansion team. Why, you boy city fans invented soccer! You’ve been fans for over 5 months! Some of you haven’t missed a game yet! And the attendance? Such an amazing accomplishment. I’m humbled. Now what’s your payroll again ? Are you really an expansion team? All that money and you couldn’t beat the boys from NJ even once?!?! Wow you do suck.
              Anyway I’m convinced. I’m officially on board the turd rail express. Now – where’s my neo-nazi friends and that bag of raw chicken?

              • Rip

                Is this not their first season?…..then they are…by definition an expansion team retard. Sorry your team is cheap but a team spending money is a good thing. We do have a lot of new soccer fans to our team. You’re welcome. How stupid do you have to be to dislike a team gaining new fans to the sport. No wonder no watches your team when you don’t play us. 20 years….20 years and you’re still losers. The Jersey inferiority complex is strong with you.

                • Anonymous

                  Where you been for 20 years mister soccer expert? I know- waiting for a genuine, hip, close to home franchise that speaks to you. Yeah man, right on. Hip man, yeah. Soccer is here baby. Moron.

                  • Rip

                    Playing soccer? Or do you mean as a fan? I grew up outside DC, so I have been a DC United fan. So obviously….I could never turn to be a Metrostar fan when I moved to NY. So although I still try to keep up with DC United, It’s been great to have a team that I can actually see play on a regular basis. And please explain this retard hipster thing you morons keep spouting. You can’t keep complaining that they are a “corporate” and “plastic” franchise….but then also complain that they are the “hip” choice for people who don’t know soccer. Honestly, it makes you look really stupid. Pick one, anyone….it still won’t make sense, but at least it would be consistent

                    • Anonymous

                      Should’ve stuck w DC lol.

                    • Ahh, a fucking transplant trying to tell native New Yorkers what’s NYC and what’s not. Do us all a favor and get out of our city now. We all know you’ll be gone in a few years when you’ve done your cool NYC experience anyway.

                  • Rip

                    Location doesn’t matter…then why aren’t you rooting for the LA Galaxy you dumbass? You’re too stupid to talk to.

                    • Anonymous

                      Wow you’re very bitter. My condolences. Not sure bout the LA reference. You act like DC is 3000 miles away. There’s Skins fans all over, Caps too. Man you’re an idiot and not a loyal idiot either. A new team comes in and you bail. Nice! Fool.

                    • Rip

                      Lived here for 15 years d-bag. If you’re happy going out to Jersey then that’s fine, that’s your thing. But other than that f*ck off. Being born here doesn’t make you special. A team in the city offend you? Yeah, no real New Yorkers would root for a team in the Bronx? The more you talk the dumber you sound.

            • slowleftarm

              Wow you guys find some amazing ways to parse things in order to disguise your team’s ****-poor performances. Yeah RBNY has one more win than NYCFC – that is if you don’t count the three wins in three games directly against them! Amazing.

              Here are some straightforward numbers – RBNY have 12 more points despite having played a game less. They are second in the east, fifth overall while NYCFC are eighth in the east and seventeenth overall. Coincidentally, seventeen is the number of pounds Fat Frank has to lose before he’s fit enough to play again.

              • Red at the Tube Bar – Jersey city

                As usual you’re on the mark, slow. You treated these buffoons like those idiots got treated at Bello’s.

              • Rip

                Yeah they played really poor against you guys. If that makes you feel better about 20 years of sucking…awesome. Whatever comforts you in Jersey.

                • Rerun

                  You’d be going nuts and talking trash if the tables were reversed. Be honest. Geeze you couldn’t even beat us a man up for half a game. You guys really do suck. Take comfort in that. I do.

                  • Rip

                    I take comfort that you’re in Jersey where you belong. I think the Red Bulls have been playing very well this year. I…..not having your thimble sized penis have no problem in admitting that the Red Bulls deserved every win they got against us. I don’t root for them to lose….except when they’re playing us, it has nothing to do with my team. I like watching my team get better…sometimes worse…but mainly better. I love watching the team fan base grows and what it means to soccer in New York. To be honest….I’m baffled by the dick waving of red bulls, cosmos, and NYCFC fans.

                    • slowleftarm

                      You’re baffled by fans talking **** to other fans? Is this the first time you’ve been a fan of a sports team? I realize most NYCFC fans just discovered soccer existed but I figured you at least followed other sports.

                    • Anonymous

                      In Jersey where you belong might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on EOS. The Giants and Jets are in Nj. So what. I live in NJ. I’m a Rangers fan. My closet friend lives in Manhattan. He’s a Devils fan. Who cares?
                      Actually no one cares ‘cept you about ‘being from NY’ You sound like a 12 yr old. And the fact you bailed on DC is a whole other pathetic story. Don’t explain, it’ll sound lame trust me.

              • Rip

                Smack talk is normal sure, but you guys seem genuinely offended that a team is attracting new fans and spending money. I guess….it’s the ignorance of the complaints that surprises me. I mean, I’m the one who has to deal with fans at my games not knowing what the hell is going on….and standing up in the middle of scoring opportunities. But I love that people are learning about soccer.

                The derby needs to develop on the field. I could give a **** whether you guys do well or suck. If we’re no threat to you then why do you care so much?

                • slowleftarm

                  Just like I said earlier – it’s always transplants who are obsessed with the NYC v NJ thing.

                  • Rip

                    Enjoy your season man….you seem like a really good guy.

          • RedBallz

            You got it all wrong man….I love that no one goes to Red Bull Arena….that way I always get good seats. I’m a 100 percent die hard Red Bull fan….which means that I only care because I hate that New York has a team playing in the actual location of New York, that gets fans, and spends money. And hey…..we got that Supporters Shield that one year right? Beating an expansion team means 3 times means that we are super awesome! We are so real!

            • Ken Reeves

              Rip you are the biggest idiot on this board. Go away. The new team in NY bothers no one. It’s fair weather know it all, name calling losers such as yourself. A DC fan now a NY fan. Cool. What a guy.

              • Rip

                Biggest idiot on this board? That is saying a lot. That hurts Ken…..that hurts bad.

              • Rip

                Does that mean we’re not on for this Saturday?

                • Ken Reeves

                  We’re on bro. Bring the raw chicken. I’ll bring the Pabst and the flares.

                  • Rip

                    Sweet. Feel free to cook the chicken but bring plenty of the PBR!

    • Mike Damone

      Rest assured every time we play the plastic team from the ‘hardcore’ Bronx, we’ll crush ’em.
      And also I got pair for sale in 203.

      • RedBallz

        Yeah, NYCFC is so plastic! They’ll never equal our accomplishments of a single Supporter’s Shield and zero MLS cups in 20 years. I hope that stupid plastic team goes under so I can go back to ignoring our Jersey boys.

        • Mike Damone

          Sweep. 3 for 3.
          It sucks but hey you’ve got lampfart and the chain smoking heart attack waiting to happen Pirlo. The future is bright! And you’ve got Yankee Stadium! And the turd fail I mean rail. God I love supporters who can’t even hang a sign right side up. Now where are my flares?

          • slowleftarm

            Yeah, we’d be lucky just to have supporters right?

            • slowleftarm

              What a sad impostor. At least say something witty.

  • Kevin

    I don’t get it slow left. Here I actually say ur boys a compliment and its right back to the Cosmos attendance, has nothing to do with the article.

    • slowleftarm

      I was commenting on a comment that specifically discussed attendance. Not yours.

      • Mike

        Though Kevin’s point kinda still stands. Cosmos still on your mind?

        • slowleftarm

          Can’t defend that empty stadium so you attack people pointing it out. I understand.

          • Mike

            Because people pointing out Cosmos attendance on an article about the landmark achievement by RBNY’s Luis Robles, an achievement that nicely links up with his legendary predecessor to create a feel-good story about a Tristate-area team, makes perfect sense. Of course! How could I have not seen the completely obvious connection? A newborn could make the logical jump without any issues. (/sarcasm)

            Only you, slowleftarm. Only you. Take a bow, you dirty troll.

            • slowleftarm

              Hey Mike, wake up please before posting. I was responding above to a comment made by “redballz” regarding attendance. I thought he was a Cosmos fan (turns out he’s an NYCFC fan but I never saw a post from him before so I didn’t know).

              • RedBallz

                Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah………….waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

                • slowleftarm

                  Intelligent response. You seem about as bright as the skinhead supporters of battle lion 49. Go chew on some raw chicken.

                  • RedBallz

                    Oh were you part of the Jersey group of Einsteins that got beaten with trash by them? Yeah, when you have a passionate fanbase that’s as large as NYCFC’s it’s hard to police them all. Not like the Jersey Red Bulls where you’re so small you all know each other by name. Tell me….do the seats at the stadium come with the dildo up your butt or do you have to bring your own?

                    • Raw chicken nazi scum loser

                      You’re very immature bro. I love the neo-nazi fans that exist in your crowds. So hardcore. And you guys can’t even hang a banner right side up.
                      WTF? How hard is that? Flares? Oooooh so cutting edge. And the limits on traveling supporters because you behave like douchebags? God you guys are total morons. Every single one of you. So much to learn. It’ll take time but by
                      2018 I think you idiots will get a clue. Actually prob not.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Yeah that’s what we want – 1980s style English hooliganism at MLS matches. Nothing “passionate” about this, these guys aren’t even soccer fans. They just feel insecure about their masculinity.

                  • RedBallz

                    Ahhhh….can dish it out….but can’t take it…..except up the bung hole. You guys are fun.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Look at Shelion 49’s FB page. Not one mention of actual soccer. Just a bunch of dudes trying to act tough to make up for their two-inch penises. Sad.

  • Dr.love of soccer

    Cosmos one day will be back and mr.slow will be crying in his parents bedroom.
    Slow better send a thank u letter to NYC for reviving their fans and club.
    It’s like putting another team in Chicago and waking up the fire fans and owner.

    • slowleftarm

      Huh?

    • CosmosPetke

      Dr. homo, you obviously are one of those people hoping for the $15 minimum wage hike and economically delusional in regards to the cost of sports.

      • storms

        if this site is as retarded as it is when it comes to soccer I sudder to imagine some of the opinions commenters have on economics or politics