UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – This may be Carl Robinson’s fourth season in MLS, but it will be his first time in the playoffs. So forgive him if he’s a bit excited.
The Red Bulls central midfielder is drawing to a close what has been a rather tumultuous season. In March, after a falling-out with the management in Toronto, Robinson was traded to New York in a move that was fully endorsed and in part orchestrated by RBNY assistant coach Richie Williams.
An icon to the fans and supporters north of the border, the former Welsh international was disappointed to leave the club but excited by the opportunities with the Red Bulls.
But Robinson struggled early in the season with a knee injury and eventually had surgery this summer, his first major loss of playing time since joining the league. Coupled with the September passing of his father, Robinson has had what he modestly calls “a rather up-and-down sort of year.”
But the playoffs present Robinson with the opportunity to grasp and hold tight to the chance at his first taste of MLS success. New York open their Eastern Conference semifinal series at San Jose on Saturday.
[inline_node:288872]“Football is a funny sport,” Robinson told MLSsoccer.com. “You have to expect the unexpected, the ups and the downs. There are good times, and there are times that you’d really rather not go through. This, however, is a good time.”
Following his mid-summer surgery, Robinson said he has felt “absolutely fantastic the past five weeks,” and that he’s the most pain-free he’s been in years. Given his solid form in New York and the improvement of his knee, he's already beginning to think ahead toward next year.
With the passing of his father, Robinson is no longer planning a return to England or Wales so as to play closer to his childhood home.
“That was originally the plan, to go back there and play," he said. "My father hadn’t seen me play in person for years. But now, it has changed, and I don’t necessarily feel the need to return, to go back. I’ve spoken with my wife about it and we’ll see.”
Robinson adds that he loves being in New York, but that it's too early to discuss plans and options right now.
“My outlook has changed, completely,” Robinson said. “The hunger is back in me. Let’s get this season out of the way, have success here and then we can talk next year.
"I can tell you one thing though, I’ve enjoyed every minute here with this club. It has been – from the arena to management to the support to the club the lads on the training pitch – absolutely fantastic. The hunger is back.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012
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