Atlanta United's Miles Robinson gets trial by fire in US debut vs. Mexico

Miles Robinson - Atlanta United - Close up

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — From his seat on the bench in the first half on Friday night, Miles Robinson witnessed the intensity of the U.S. national team's rivalry with Mexico rivalry from up close. 

It was clear the attitude he'd have to have when the Atlanta United defender made his U.S. debut after halftime.

“Looking at the game on the bench, you obviously see it's high-paced and things like that,” Robinson said. “So you've got to make sure you're in tune to the game.”

With a message from USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter to “be confident,” Robinson went from watching to playing during the 58th minute. The result, a 3-0 defeat at Met Life Stadium, was not ideal, but Robinson relished the chance he’d been hoping for had finally come. 

“Obviously it is a tough game to come into,” Robinson said. “Mexico is a great opponent, but we'll have to look at the film and see how we can get better from it.”

Robinson came on for LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman — one MLS Defender of the Year candidate for another. It was part of a double switch as the 22-year-old, along was Seattle’s Jordan Morris, one of Berhalter’s first choices off the bench.

“Obviously it is an honor to represent this country,” Robinson said. “It felt great to get out there.”

Robinson was one of two defenders making his USMNT debut, joining 18-year-old Ajax fullback Sergino Dest, who played 68 minutes. 

Although it was only a small sample size, Robinson impressed goalkeeper Zack Steffen. 

“Miles is a great player,” Steffen said. “He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s young. So I'm really happy for him that he got in tonight and that he got to play Mexico. I thought he did well when he came in and, and played strong and was confident.”

If Berhalter’s post-match press conference was any indication, Robinson might not have to wait too long to earn his second cap. 

“We were able to get Miles on the field today. We were able to get Sergino on the field today, which I thought was great — two young, promising players,” he said. “We’ll probably have some of the same against Uruguay.”