“In all honesty, I really wanted (Miles) to go to Atlanta because my nephew is there,” Jeff Robinson said. “Brand new franchise. He would have the opportunity to be the very first pick in the history of the franchise. Beautiful soccer stadium. Sounds like they have a wonderful coach and it’s just close enough to home that we can get there.”
Jeff Robinson found himself paying some attention to the mock drafts. Some had Robinson going to Atlanta United. Some had him going to Minnesota United with the top pick.
“I kept hoping for it and Miles kept tell me to be quiet, be quiet,” the father said.
Finally, as MLS Commissioner Don Garber introduced the second pick with “Syracuse … ,” Jeff felt happiness mixed with relief. He said he’s been nervous ever since fielding the agents’ first calls.
“It was a little weird,” Jane said, echoing her husband’s emotion. “What? Can’t he finish school first?”
Robinson played just two seasons at Syracuse, but he was good enough to become the ACC’s defensive player of the year as a sophomore after helping the Orange to 11 shutouts.
After watching a few teammates leave school last year for the MLS draft, he decided that he too was ready to become a professional.
He signed a Generation Adidas contract, which guarantees that he can finish his education at some point. That was important to his parents. Jane said she is looking forward to attending her son’s graduation, just as she did her daughter’s last May, also from Syracuse.
It was her daughter Rebecca, Miles’s older sister by three years, who sparked his love for the game. Neither parent played soccer. Jeff, a professional musician, said he was a good backyard athlete while Jane, an environmental engineer, ran track.
Daughter Rebecca became an accomplished soccer player. It was actually her cleats that Miles would sometimes wear to the daycare.
“She was an outstanding soccer player,” Jeff Robinson said. “Him being her younger brother, he felt, ‘I can do that too.’”
He started as a forward, where he would copy the moves he saw on TV or videos. He then moved to defense when he began playing club soccer between the ages of 10-12.
His athleticism and understanding of the game impressed Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra, who said he knew he wanted to take Miles with the second pick when he began seriously scouting him last summer.
“He has attributes that he can play at this level, he can play at the next level and we will see what his ceiling is,” Bocanegra said. “We didn’t need the testing to see what we liked physically or athletically.”
The team did listen to many trade offers from teams looking to move up in the draft, particularly because of Robinson. Others wanted the 6-foot-2 defender, who was already mentioned by one analyst on Friday as a rookie of the year candidate. The team doesn’t even report to training camp in Bradenton, Fla. for almost two weeks.
Miles said he didn’t care where he went. He only wants a chance to prove himself. He said he’s looking forward to working with manager Gerardo Martino as well as some of Atlanta United’s veterans like Michael Parkhurst.
He also thanked his parents in a twitter message: “So thankful to have such supportive parents! Wouldn’t be here without them!”
Jeff and Jane don’t plan on moving to Atlanta but Jane said she likes that Miles is moving to a new city to start a new life. Atlanta United will play at New England in late September, giving the parents at least one opportunity to watch him play locally.
They plan on more. Jane and Jeff and his brother intend to visit Miles and his cousin, Keith, who is a sports producer at TNT, in Atlanta. It has become a reality.
“I know this is what I wanted and his cousin wanted and my brother wanted,” Jeff said.
“I’m excited about it too,” Jane said.