The New York Red Bulls have had a handful of standout performers nearly one-third of the way into 2014, but few have had the impact of Luis Robles.
“He does that every weekend or Wednesday, whenever we play,” team captain Thierry Henry noted after the Red Bulls 1-0 victory over Dallas. “He kept us in the game when we didn’t deserve to be at nil-nil.”
Truth be told, that has been happening all season long. Robles is putting up the kind of numbers reflective of an MVP — and that designation isn’t just limited to the Red Bulls. One would be hard pressed to find any player league wide who has been as important to the success of his side than Robles.
While New York are enjoying a resurgence to the season, sitting at a comfortable 3-2-5, the results could have been far worse were it not for the Fort Huachuca native. The Red Bulls struggled to get their offense going at the onset of the season. The defense failed to find form with new faces thrown into the mix.
The only constant has been Robles.
As the last line of defense, Robles has been the Great Wall of the Red Bulls final third. He has faced more shots than any other keeper in the league (55) through ten games. Chris Seitz trails Robles by nine shots through eight matches. While the games in hand certainly tilt that category in Robles favor, take into consideration that Seitz has made all of 31 saves to Robles 41, and you get a better picture of just how dominant the Red Bulls keeper has been.
In all, Robles has only allowed 12 goals against this year — five of which have come at the end of a league leading six penalty shots against New York. That has inflated his goals against average to a still-impressive 1.20 on the year. And despite those PK’s, Robles is still second in the league in save percentage (75%) amongst keepers who have played seven or more games, trailing only U.S. Men’s National Team keeper Nick Rimando (78%).
Facing another penalty situation against Dallas, Robles turned on the heroics once more, and earned New York a hard fought three points in unbearable conditions.
“[I was] Disappointed in the penalty that I gave away and that’s what you have a teammate for,” team talisman Tim Cahill said after the match. “Luis has been absolutely outstanding and I thank him loads.”
It isn’t just Tim who should be thanking him — it’s the entire team. Without Robles, New York would be in a very dark place, even in the midst of this winning streak. That makes him the most valuable player on this team — and a contender for that distinction league wide.