New York Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles’s chances to make the All-Star team are slim, but he’s still one of the most reliable MLS goalkeepers.
We’re in the last minute of New York Red Bulls’ match versus Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night at the Red Bull Arena. You’re enjoying your fourth $1 hot dog, but, startled, you stop chewing.
Vancouver’s midfielder Hwang In-beom hit a sublime long pass to substitute Lucas Venuto down New York’s half. RBNY had most of their players on the Whitecaps end of the pitch. This means fresh legs Venuto is bolting toward the Red Bulls goal without any defenders in front of him.
New York’s hard-working fullback Connor Lade is sprinting back for his life to Venuto. Venuto gets in New York’s penalty box. Meanwhile, you still didn’t chew. Lade gets to Venuto but the Vancouver midfielder cuts on his right faster than you can say hi.
Venuto is not bad—he’s Brazilian—and now he’s opening up his body to shoot the ball to the upper right corner of the net and hit New York with a painful late winner. But out of Fort Huachuca, Arizona, a New York Red Bulls savior was born on May 11, 1984, Luis Robles.
Robles stretches on his left to perform a breathtaking one-hand save. No painful last-minute winner from a young Brazilian. And now you can finally start chewing again because Robles saved the day. Again.
That’s what the veteran shot-stopper is known for: saving his side. Even going back to The Metros last match, he tallied four unreal saves to guide his team to a 2-0 victory and win the Man of the Match award.
Because of the keeper’s heroism over the years, the Red Bulls fans put a banner behind his goal that reads: “Robles saves so does Jesus Jn. 3:16.”
RBNY’s savior helped his side win three Supporters’ Shield in the past five seasons, was selected as the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and made the Best XI Team in 2015, won the 2014 MLS Save of the Year and cracked into the U.S. men’s national team in 2009.
There’s one accolade still up for grabs in the American’s individual achievements, an All-Star selection. Shockingly, he wasn’t an All-Star in 2015 when he won the Goalkeeper of the Year award or last season when he had the best goals against average, 0.97 per match, and the second-best save per shots ratio, 73 percent.
But to be fair, it was tough to make the All-Star team last season as a keeper. Future Manchester City netminder Zack Steffen and ex-Aston Villa man Brad Guzan were the two selected keepers, two well-known players.
In 2015, it was a bit easier for Robles to rack an MLS appearance as the two selected shot-stoppers weren’t as known: Clint Irwin and David Ousted.
Fast-forwarding to this year, despite his heroic saves, it will be tough for the Arizona native to make the All-Star team. As of May 24, he was in the eighth spot in the list of the most voted goalkeepers, which is reasonable because his numbers aren’t quite up there this season.
The New York captain is 14th in the league in saves and only stopped 70 percent of the shots taken toward him.
But of course, a keeper could start in the All-Star game with those numbers. Manchester United star keeper David De Gea would’ve made the All-Star team with Robles’s current stats because he would be a fan favorite. But Robles isn’t a superstar.
He’s a keeper who deservedly started to make a name for himself when he joined New York at 28 years of age in 2012. Prior to that, he was the 50th pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. Despite being drafted, he chose to play overseas but only made 64 appearances in five years in Germany’s lower divisions.
This leads us to why Robles didn’t make the All-Star team during his stellar seasons in 2015 and 2018, he’s not a fan favorite around the entire league. Yes, he won Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015 and was a finalist of that award last year, but you can argue that the former Portland Pilots prodigy is underrated.
There’s still about a month left to vote for the All-Star team, the New York keeper has two matches left to rack more great performances, which will improve his chances of making the selection.
But even then, his odds of making it would be very slim. We’re talking about a guy who they didn’t select in the All-Star roster in a year he won the best player in his position in.
At 35 years of age, Robles is approaching the declining part of his career, which obviously brings his chances of making an All-Star appearance in future seasons down. That’s the sad truth, and that’s okay. Would you rather want to be remembered as an All-Star or New York’s savior?