Atlanta United's Miles Robinson fit right back in with the red, white and blue on Monday night, helping the United States men's national team earn a 1-0 win over El Salvador and secure a return to the Concacaf Nations League Final Four. It was the center back's first international appearance since suffering a season-ending injury during club play last year.
Robinson made the starting XI for U.S. interim head coach Anthony Hudson, marking the center back's first cap since a World Cup qualifying match a year ago. Against El Salvador on Monday, Robinson played a full 90 minutes and helped the United States earn a clean sheet.
It was a long awaited return for Robinson, who had become a main force on the backline for the Stars and Stripes. Last year, he helped the squad qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. But the season-ending injury to his Achilles tendon in early May sidelined him from making his World Cup debut. Instead of making the trip to Qatar with the U.S., Robinson embarked on a months-long recovery and watched tournament matches at home on his couch.
"It was definitely tough at some moments, more mentally than physically," Robinson said. "I think the first few months when you can't really walk is definitely tough. And then towards the end when I could get out on the field. But watching the World Cup was also pretty tough. I just use it as motivation at this point. I'm so grateful to be back out here with this team."
Robinson grew stronger through the adversity -- and his recovery went well enough that he was able to make it back to Atlanta United during preseason. He started and played a full 90 in the club's season opening win over San Jose Earthquakes. His return to the pitch led Atlanta United to its best four-match start in club history and the backline conceded just three goals in those four matches.
In his return, some said Robinson appeared to be even faster and stronger than he did before his injury. And now, it looks like the 26-year-old has taken his excellent form to the global stage.
“Miles, really, really pleased, just pleased he's back and pleased with his performance,” Hudson said. “You saw moments of the old Miles where he's just so dominant in 1-v-1 situations, and he reads plays well and he steps in at the right time. He just very, very quietly goes about being dominant in his role.”