In a year that's already seen him emerge at the international level, Miles Robinson has also checked off an individual milestone with his first nod to the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, which is set for Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium (9 pm ET | FS1, Univision in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada).
Regarding his big summer with the US men's national team, which saw him score a huge game-winner against Mexico in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Final as part of an all-around stellar tournament, Robinson said he hopes that he showed enough to feature in next month's World Cup Qualifiers. Should he get that chance, Robinson plans on making the most of it.
"It's just something I kind of look at and I'm like: 'Wow, this is pretty insane,'" Robinson told Extratime co-hosts Andrew Wiebe and David Gass live from Los Angeles. "Because I did look at these games growing up, I looked at these big matches and now I can be a part of it. It definitely means a lot to me, but I'll go into the game knowing that these situations, they're not given, you earned it. So I earned it if I get put in that situation, so I'm just going to try and ball out."
At the club level, Robinson said the vibe around Atlanta United is slowly but surely trending in a positive direction. The Five Stripes' early-season struggles were well-documented, culminating with the departure of Gabriel Heinze after just 13 games. But the club showed much-improved form under interim head coach Rob Valentino, embarking on a four-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break. And now they're set to integrate former Seattle Sounders assistant Gonzalo Pineda as their new hire for the full-time role.
"I think we're slowly getting back into that Atlanta United of 2017, '18, '19," Robinson said. "That type of team where we have deadly offensive players, but we can also lock it down in the back. I think our expectations are high at this point, but rightfully so based on our roster, I think."
Another reason for optimism? Superstar forward Josef Martinez appears to be rounding back into the form that made him one of the most prolific forwards in MLS history. The 28-year-old is coming off last year's ACL injury, and with four goals in his last five games, Atlanta appear to have their best player and heart and soul of the club up to his old tricks.
That can only mean good things for the Five Stripes going forward, Robinson said.
"Obviously having him back is big for us," he said. "He's a great player, he's lethal in attack. If we can just get that type of Josef of old back, we've got a high ceiling, for sure."
For more from Extratime Live, check out the complete show here.