"One last try" for Luis Robles results in MLS record for Red Bulls 'keeper

HARRISON, N.J.—After the match, Luis Robles could admit to being emotional, setting history as the ironman of MLS in his New York Red Bulls Saturday afternoon 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

Robles entered the history books with the opening whistle, making consecutive start No. 142 to eclipse Chris Klein as the all-time leader. The ironman streak is doubly impressive given that he has played every minute of every league match in the regular season and the playoffs since the streak began late in the 2012 season.

During that time he has backstopped to the Red Bulls to two Supporters' Shields in 2013 and 2015, along with the 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year is clearly one of the best at his position in the league.

“I was a little surprised after the game how we got caught up in it,” Robles said. “At the end of the day, I feel so grateful to be part of this organization. I feel grateful for all of the coaches who believed in me. Hans Backe for giving me my first start, Mike Petke for staying with me when maybe other people were saying that we should move on and of course, Jesse [Marsch] when he came from Day One … [saying] that I was going be huge part of this organization. To have these coaches backing me has been important.

“Family members, my parents, there are so many people in the background, that when you talk about 142 [straight games], a lot of that has to be attributed to them. And then the part I get most choked up about is when I talk about my wife.”

It’s been quite a journey for Robles, who left Germany in the summer of 2012 for a shot at more consistent playing time in MLS. When Robles joined the Red Bulls through the league’s allocation process, he was thought to be a stop-gap as the team had just drafted Ryan Meara, who was the frontrunner to be rookie of the year until suffering a hip injury in July.

After Meara's injury, the hope was that Robles could get the Red Bulls through the regular season and into the playoffs.

On Sept. 29, 2012 after being with the team for a few weeks, Robles started in a 4-1 win over Toronto FC. He hasn’t relinquished a minute since.

And now here he is, achieving history. He was given a game ball after the match to commemorate the accomplishment.

“I remember July 2012 when you guys didn't know who I was,” Robles said. “I was just sitting there thinking [that] it was a good run, it's time to move on. Though my parents were definitely supporting me, my wife was hounding me, like 'It's not done yet, we need to give it one more try. Do whatever it takes, bypass an agent, Google 'Major League Soccer.' I really think you're going to regret this if you don't give it one last try.’ So it was with her encouragement and motivation I pursued it and I couldn't thought of it being something like this.”

“So I know that she's emotional before the game. I was emotional before the game. I was trying to hold it together. As soon as the game was done, I couldn't help but think about her.”

With his performances during the past 4 1/2 years culminating in recent call-ups to the US national team under Bruce Arena, Robles has begun firming up a place on the US goalkeeping depth chart, one topped by Saturday's counterpart between the sticks, Tim Howard.

"I know that they both took it personally,” said Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch, “Looking across the other side of the field that there's competition within the national team – obviously Tim is very established guy in the national team.

“I think Luis is emerging as a guy that they can call on. I wouldn't be surprised if Luis is called into the next camp, I think he's had a really good start to the year, and had a really good camp. That part of the battle was really fun to watch; even though Tim made some great saves Luis came away with the win and the shutout.”

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