Another year of experience and the belief of a new coaching staff are combining to help Miles Robinson show why Atlanta United made him its first draft pick in its first draft in 2017.
The centerback has started in the middle of a three-man backline in the team’s first two scrimmages featuring the first team and has rarely put a foot wrong.
“It helps how Frank (de Boer) and his staff have faith and confidence in me,” Robinson said. “I have felt that from day one. So that’s always encouraging. When you have a coaching staff that has faith in you, you will automatically play better. More confident. That’s how I’ve been playing.”
Robinson said he’s not sure if he was afraid to make a mistake under the previous staff, but he said it makes sense that could have been that case. Robinson made 10 appearances with three starts under Gerardo Martino.
The previous staff placed a value on a technical approach at the back. Just 21 years old (Robinson would be a rookie this season had he not left Syracuse after two years), he is still developing the experience that can be necessary. But he’s had the physical tools.
“The former staff felt a certain way about him and that was their own reading,” teammate Jeff Larentowicz said. “If you feel that kind of pressure it can make you play a certain way. Maybe that’s alleviated for him and he can do the things that he does well. He’s athletic. He’s strong. Those things shine through when you allow them to.”
While acknowledging Robinson still has a lot to learn, de Boer said he appreciates how he keeps things simple.
“I love that in that position,” de Boer said. “Sometimes surprises me what he’s already capable of right now.”
Robinson said that de Boer and the staff will ask him about certain plays and that they are open to critiquing him, which is helpful. He said it was different under the previous staff.
Robinson played on the right side of a three-man backline last season. He said it doesn’t matter to him if he’s on the right or the center. He said playing in the center requires him to communicate more because he sets the line and that he’s more comfortable doing that now compared to two years ago. Michael Parkhurst said Robinson is doing a good job talking to his teammates about what he sees and what they need to do.
“When staff puts their trust in you from day one, it gives you that uplift and self-confidence and he’s playing with it right now,” Parkhurst said.
Robinson has benefited from having Parkhurst, who takes a more cerebral approach to defending, and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who is more of a blunt object, as examples to follow the previous two seasons.
“I’m still just trying to learn from them, having them by my side is a confidence boost,” Robinson said.