UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The look on his face was shock, and that said it all.
When Carl Robinson bagged the fourth goal of New York’s 4-1 win over Toronto at BMO Field last Saturday, his post-goal celebration was more than muted – it was non-existent.
The goal, a header late in the match on a cross that goalkeeper Stefan Frei overplayed, marked the Welshman’s first return back to Toronto since being traded to the Red Bulls before the start of the MLS season. Robinson played three seasons for Toronto, including being twice named the team’s MVP.
Robinson said that he planned on muting his celebration if he were to score. The defensive midfielder’s goal last Saturday was his first tally of the year.
“I knew that if I went back and we scored, or for that matter if I scored, that I wasn’t going to celebrate,” Robinson told MLSsoccer.com. “The score made it 4-1 and it was a matter of respect for the club that I was a part of – I didn’t want to rub it in any way.”
For three years, Robinson was the heart and soul of Toronto FC, where the former Welsh international helped run the midfield for the club during its formative years. He quickly became a fan favorite at BMO Field and there was an uproar from the supporters when he was traded to New York in March.
His return on Saturday was marked with an ovation throughout the stadium and a banner that was raised from the stands behind the goal, welcoming his return.
Despite the less-than-happy circumstances that sent Robinson to New York, the defensive midfielder holds no ill will towards his old club, and certainly not towards their fans. On Saturday as he teammates mobbed him following the goal, Robinson simply stood there, shaking his head and looking towards the sky.
It was a matter of respect for Robinson towards the players and fans he grew to love.
“For Robinson, it was a great feeling to score, even if he was rather quiet [in his celebration] after the score,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said. “It showed class in a way.”
Robinson left BMO Field with no ill will towards the club or his Saturday experience.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “For 99 percent of the time, it was a great three years. I enjoyed it, but I am happy to be here now.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012