After starting the same lineup for the first two matches of the 2019 season, Columbus Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter opted for a switch in Week 3 against FC Dallas.
Robinho got his first MLS start at left wing in place of veteran Justin Meram and the result -- a 1-0 win over FC Dallas -- was another win for Porter's Crew, who remain undefeated on the season (2W-0L-1D).
"Justin and I had a good conversation," Porter said in his postgame press conference. "He was very professional when I told him [Friday] that I was going to start Robinho. And I told him it was part tactical.
"Robinho’s got a little bit more pace and provides more width 1-v-1, and at times game-changing," Porter continued. "But also, I felt with Justin, too, that he was playing a little tight. I’ve seen sometimes, it’s good to have a little reset and he took it really well and he understood.
"I think [Meram] going off to play for the national team [Iraq] and coming back, I’m confident he will come back and he’ll kind of be a new guy. More than that, I need to reward other players, as well. And I thought Robinho deserved the start [in Week 3]. More than Justin didn’t deserve it, Robinho deserved it."
Robinho, a 24-year-old Brazilian winger who joined during the most recent transfer window, made all but three successful passes, including one key pass, during the 78 minutes in which he played before coming off for Meram.
"Just a little bit my feel on current form and tactically what we wanted to get out of the game," Porter said to media members explaining his decision. "If you noticed today, we were much more effective at creating width on the flanks through our wingers and outside backs. We knew that was going to be an important element in the game.
"So we trained [on] that all week. But we also felt [that] a personnel change would help bring that dimension, as well. So it was part tactical and part seeing Robinho being lively when he came into games. Obviously, I have an opportunity to watch these guys in training every day and I just thought he was in a good spot. And [he] had a really good game [vs. FC Dallas]."
While Meram, 30, heads to national team duty with Iraq (vs. Syria on March 22 and vs. Jordan on March 26), Robinho is likely to get a second straight start when Crew SC travel to face the Philadelphia Union in Week 4 on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in USA; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).