Atlanta United: How long before Miles Robinson is gone?

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 23: Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) during the MLS soccer match between the Orlando City SC and Atlanta United on August 23, 2019 at Explorer Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 23: Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) during the MLS soccer match between the Orlando City SC and Atlanta United on August 23, 2019 at Explorer Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Miles Robinson is enjoying a breakout season for Atlanta United. How long before Europe comes knocking for the talented youngster?

Miles Robinson is in the midst of a breakout season. The 23-year-old is in his third professional year after attending Syracuse until 2017, when he was taken second overall in the MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta United. Despite being such a high draft pick, it was his draft class counterpart and teammate Julian Gressel (taken eighth overall) who stole all the headlines by winning MLS Rookie of the Year in 2017.

Robinson didn’t even make an appearance with the Five Stripes in 2017, instead featuring just six times on loan with USL side Charleston Battery. In 2018, he appeared in 10 regular-season matches, including three starts. He also made two appearances in the MLS Cup playoffs, including a start against New York City FC where he played a full 90 minutes and helped the team advance to the Conference Final.

With a new coaching staff in 2019, Robinson saw his playing time increase exponentially. This began in the preseason and turned a few heads at the time, including my own. It was clear from early on that Frank de Boer and his coaching staff rated Robinson highly. Since then, the center-back has started in all but one league game and appeared in all 27. He also made starts in each match of CCL and each match during the successful Open Cup run.

His first individual breakout performance came at home against Monterrey in the return leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final. Monterrey boast a lethal attack, one that would help the club go on to win this year’s edition of CCL. Yet, Robinson, just 21 at the time, held his own against very experienced and talented attackers. He made individual stop after individual stop. And since then, he’s been a rock for Atlanta.

Since then, Robinson has routinely put out fires along the backline. During a stretch in July, he saw his form dip just slightly, but as Atlanta United rounded into top form in August, so too did Robinson. He was instrumental in the team’s performances, which included seven out of eight possible wins, a Campeones Cup trophy over a full strength Club America, and a U.S. Open Cup trophy.

It is not just his defensive play that has impressed, though. Robinson’s ability to carry the ball into the midfield and break lines with his passing is a new skill that’s developed over the course of the season. That is an important ability for a ball-playing center-back. Robinson continues to hone those skills week in, week out. After flying under the radar to start the season, Robinson caught the attention of those outside Atlanta. In just the last few weeks alone, he has been voted to the MLS Team of the Week on two separate occasions and earned his first-ever USMNT call-up.

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Because of this breakout season, he is surely on the radar of many foreign scouts. While attacking players usually snag the headlines for transfers overseas to top clubs, there is still a penchant for MLS defenders. We know there are European scouts are looking to MLS for defenders. Matt Miazga is one of the first names that come to mind, but don’t forget about Erik Palmer-Brown. Miazga joined Chelsea from New York Red Bulls and has played all over Europe since. Palmer-Brown was transferred to Manchester City from Sporting Kansas City.

Then there’s Aaron Long, who was reportedly the subject of a bid from the Premier League’s West Ham United in the recent summer transfer window. He has enjoyed success in MLS with the Red Bulls, most notably winning Defender of the Year in 2018. This success put Long in camp with the USMNT, where he has since earned 11 caps with the national team.

If teams were already looking at MLS for a player like Long, who is 26, then they are surely taking a long, detailed look at Robinson. Long is developed and has proven he can perform on the international stage. Although Robinson has yet to prove that, he is just 22. He has many good years ahead of him, and that should appeal to European scouts.

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It is unlikely bids will come in for Robinson in the winter transfer window during the MLS offseason. It is possible, but I would be surprised if Atlanta sold him. However, with the year he’s having now, if he performs as good or even better next season, I would expect it to be his last with Atlanta. For a player with off-the-charts athleticism, a high ceiling, and now extensive senior experience at a young age, it’s time to wonder how much longer we’ll see him in Atlanta.