After almost a year of rumors, whispers and near deals, Carl Robinson is finally a New York Red Bull. If Red Bulls’ fans are left perplexed by the move to trade for Robinson—defensive midfield wasn’t seen as a pressing need for this year’s team—the new head coach isn’t confused one bit.
“I think what Carl brings is an ability to calm things in the middle of the field,” head coach Hans Backe said. “He sees things well and distributes the ball well, too. He can get the ball out wide which I think is something we need.”
The 33-year-old Robinson, who began his career as a teenager with English club Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1995, crossed the Atlantic in 2007 to join Toronto FC. Twice named the club’s top player, he fell out of favor with the Reds late last season. He responds with a quick “no comment” when asked about his time in Toronto, but even last year New York was one of several teams inquiring about Robinson when he was stuck on the bench at BMO Field.
“Carl is someone we’ve seen and known about for awhile,” Red Bulls assistant coach Richie Williams said. Williams was instrumental in lobbying Backe and management to finally bring Robinson to the team. “He’s someone who plays with composure and plays smart soccer.”
Robinson suited up with the starters in Wednesday’s scrimmage, the first action ever to take place on the field at Red Bull Arena. Throughout the match, he sprung speedy winger Dane Richards on the right flank with vertical balls and his precise ball movement linked well with the forwards. His ability to find space and organize the back-to-front transition was something of note from Wednesday’s practice session.
Off the field, he’s excited to be here in New York and finally to call the tri-state area home. The player, who has been capped more than 50 times by Wales, expects his family to arrive from Toronto in the next few weeks. But right now, Robinson is thinking solely about making an impact with the new “lads” on New York.
“Last year, we sort of knew that if we pressed and continued to go after New York, we could get that goal,” Robinson said. “That won’t be the case this year.”