After a full month off since its last league game, which probably felt even longer to the 17s, Atlanta United returns to MLS action this weekend when they travel to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Sounders. Kickoff is at 10:30 p.m. and will air live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
While the bulk of additions to the roster during the Summer Transfer Window were to aid the attack, one addition who will be key down the stretch is someone who has been here since 2017 – center back Miles Robinson. The USMNT defender, who hasn’t played an MLS match since June 10, is back with the team after a long summer on international duty, and his return will provide a boost to a backline that is looking to find more consistent performances.
The numbers tell the story of how important Robinson is to Atlanta’s defense. In the 17 matches that he has played in, Atlanta conceded 1.2 goals per 90 minutes. The team also holds a 7-3-7 (W-L-T) record in those matches. That’s a pace of 1.64 points per game, which would currently be good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Comparing that to the seven matches Robinson has missed, Atlanta’s conceded goals per 90 minutes rises to 2.1 and puts the team’s record at 2-4-1 (1.00 PPG). The team also concedes fewer shots per game when the center back is on the pitch (10.7 with vs. 12.1 without Robinson). Further, since 2019, the team is averaging 1.1 goals conceded per 90 with Robinson compared to 1.5 goals conceded per 90 without him.
After suffering a season-ending injury last year, Robinson has come back seemingly faster and stronger than before. He re-integrated himself immediately in the team in preseason and was right back in the USMNT fold after a strong opening to his 2023 campaign.
This season, as one of only two players who have been here since the inaugural 2017 season, Robinson has taken on a bigger leadership role within the team. His presence and play in the backline will be needed as Atlanta faces a tough 10-match stretch to close out the regular season.
The team has several games against potent attacks remaining on the schedule, including the league’s top scorers Columbus Crew (10/7), two matches against Supporter Shield favorites FC Cincinnati (8/30 & 10/21) as well as a trip to Philadelphia Union, who rank in the top-five in goals scored in the Eastern Conference. The 5-Stripes sit in seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with 35 points from 24 matches played. That’s six points above the playoff line. It’s also just three points behind fourth place Nashville SC (38 points from 24 matches), one of the stated goals for the club this season.
Robinson and Atlanta’s backline will be one of the keys to success in the final 10 matches this season.