Any time a team surges up the Supporters’ Shield it’s an impressive feat. But what makes Atlanta United’s recent run all the more remarkable is the injuries and suspensions the Five Stripes have had to adapt to in order to keep that success rolling. The latest example of that “next man up” mentality was Miles Robinson, who impressed yet again against Orlando City with Chris McCann and Franco Escobar held out of the lineup with injury.
“As I said after the LAFC game, he’s ready,” Tata Martino said, through a translator. “He’s a player who's improved a lot over the course of the last year. So we know he’s ready to play on days when he has to step up and help us out like today."
It was the second time Robinson has stepped up when his team needed him this year, a sign of the growing depth that has been a quiet key to Atlanta United’s success so far this season. It was an assured performance from the second-year player, one that wasn’t missed by another player that stepped up when the team need him this weekend.
"Miles is a special player,” said Alec Kann, who made his first start in nearly a year in place of the suspended Brad Guzan. “He's got a really bright future, you can see it on display. His passing is getting better every game. Defensively he's always been great, but the little parts of the game, the intangibles, are getting there. Sky's the limit for him.”
Kann has been dealing with nagging injury problems of his own, but was ready when the team need him to fill in between the net.
“[I’m dealing with] some swelling, it was week-to-week. But when Brad [Guzan] went down it was kinda like, 'You need to get back in training and get ready to play.' It's the life of a goalkeeper, you just always have to be ready."
But much like the beginning of last year, it was a strong and steady performance in goal for the hometown goalkeeper, getting another positive review from his manager.
“[He did] very well. It was a difficult game but I thought he did his job, especially with a lot of set pieces and a lot of corners that Orlando had. But I think you didn’t notice the length of time that he was out.”
"I thought I did pretty well,” Kann said. “A lot of playing goalkeeper for this team is being able to help us build out of the back. I think I helped us relieve pressure, helped us get out of their press, which was pretty high at the start and was high for most of the game. I thought my decision-making was pretty good. Would have liked to done better on the first goal, but at the end of the day the guys defended unbelievably well the rest of the game and closed the game out for me."
It was two vital contributions from players who were ready for their moment when the team needed them. And it capped off a strong showing in what was arguably the team’s toughest test yet this season.
"Really tough stretch, three good teams, two of which away from home,” Kann said. “We should be really proud of that, get back to Atlanta and rest and look forward to next Sunday at home. We have to prepare all week for another tough game."
Atlanta United will hope to extend their lead at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings next weekend as they host the New York Red Bulls in Atlanta for the first time since last year’s inaugural match. Tickets for the match are still available, so make sure you’ve reserved yours here.