GUADALAJARA, Mexico – If anyone has any doubt over just how deep the tentacles of U.S. Soccer’s scouting machine reach into Mexico, the case of Herbert Robinson provides ample evidence.
The 17-year-old is a standout in Santos Laguna’s youth system, has already debuted for Los Guerreros in the Copa MX and attended the US Under-20 camp in Florida earlier this month. But the attacking midfielder is not yet a US citizen, although he says the process is in the final stage of completion.
Robinson was born and raised in Monclova, Coahuila. His father possesses dual nationality and his grandfather was born in San Antonio. The Mexico national team has previously shown interest, but, says Robinson, “They’ve never called me up.”
El Tri’s loss could well be the United States’ gain, so long as the citizenship comes through without any problem. If it does, the US could gain a valuable prospect.
“I want the ball to always come through me,” Robinson said of his playing style over the phone to MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “I like to be mobile, not static, not waiting around for the ball.”
Robinson won the Liga MX U-20 title as a regular starter in the Santos Laguna side in the Apertura 2013, when he was still eligible for the U-17s. Alongside him in that Santos team was midfielder Benji Joya, who was a key part of Tab Ramos’ side in the last U-20 World Cup cycle.
Joya actively encouraged his teammate to take the opportunity with the US and put his mind at rest over the issue of Robinson not speaking English.
“He told me that some of the players speak Spanish, that Tab speaks Spanish and that I’d learn English with time,” said Robinson. “He just told me to go and do my thing and that I’d be fine.”
Robinson says he enjoyed the camp and the team’s playing style, and is keen to become an important part of the process towards the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015. So much so that he has already enrolled in an English course back in Torreón.
The process to fully integrate himself into the US system is well under way.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.