Red Bulls’ Robles earns MLS Team of the Week honors

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

While much of the focus after the New York Red Bulls 1-1 draw against Chicago this weekend circled around the visitor’s impressive possession work, it would all have been for naught had Luis Robles not come up with a pair of big saves to keep them in the match.

MLS was certainly paying attention to that, rewarding the Fort Huachuca native Team of the Week honors.

“He does make some big saves,” head coach Mike Petke said after the match.

“Luis just does what Luis just does,” Dax McCarty added. “He keeps us in games and he makes big saves when he has to. That’s all you can ask out of your goalkeeper.”

Robles was called to make two spectacular saves against the Chicago Fire — and one from his own teammate. A reflex save just three minutes into the second half off of a Tim Cahill headed clearance kept New York alive early. Minutes later, a clear Alex found himself one-on-one with Robles, but the Red Bull netminder turned his low shot away. Robles was also tested early by a dashing Quincy Amerikwa, but managed to best his former teammate.

“As the play developed, you could see that the give and go was definitely going to happen, so I even cheated a little thinking the ball would go back to him and I was fortunate that I got to the spot too,” Robles admitted after the match.

While few in number, each save was vital in earning New York a well-earned draw.

“Obviously in the beginning of the second half, he makes a spectacular save, and if that goes in, obviously with the conditions today with how cold it was and how bad the field was, if they get that goal in the first couple minutes of the second half, that might be it for us,” McCarty says. “He’s a great goalkeeper, and a big part of our team. We are happy to have him.”

As has become his mantra, Robles did not speak much about his personal performance, rather shifting the attention — and credit — to his teammates.

“I think what Mike [Petke] said before the game was important. He said certain things we can’t control like the weather and the field, and not necessarily the other team. The things that we can control, we did, and we kept our defensive shape well enough, except for the free kick, corner kick goal,” he says. “But some of the things we’ve been working on we’re starting to see improvement. Our defensive shape I thought, as difficult as the field was today, the guys in the back did a great job. Dax [McCarthy] was sitting in front of the middle; he chopped down a lot of passes, and the commitment from the entire team to play defense.”

Robles joins A.J. DeLaGarza and Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Michael Bradley and Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC), Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas), Djimi Traoré (Seattle Sounders), José Gonçalves (New England Revolution), Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids) and Bernardo Añor (Columbus Crew and MLS Player of the Week) in this week’s honors.