Luis Robles: “Look at the weather. My poor wife has been shoveling six inches of snow and I’m here getting a tan.” (Derik Hamilton/USA Today)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
Luis Robles, who joined the Red Bulls this past week after more than three weeks with the U.S. national team, certainly can think of worst places to be than Tucson, Ariz.
“Training’s been great,” he said said after practice earlier this week. “Look at the weather. My poor wife has been shoveling six inches of snow and I’m here getting a tan.”
It’s more than the weather. It’s just great to be back with the boys, training for New York’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps Feb. 22.
“It’s been a long absence, a long offseason,” Robles said earlier this week. “There was some communication and some hanging out [in the offseason].
“But for the most part, what we love to do together is to play soccer, to be back on the field, to be in a great set-up like this, enjoying the camaraderie again is just a fantastic thing. … We’re hoping that in the next 10 days we’ll ramp this up and we’ll be ready for the 22nd.”
Robles wasn’t the only who was back in camp this week. Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and midfielder Sacha Kljestan joined the squad after the birth of their respective children.
The veteran goalkeeper looked back, remembering last season, and forward to the 2017 campaign.
“One of the things that we talked about, what we focused on is last year we faced a lot of adversity,” he said. “The way we resolved it, the way we were able to overcome it was huge. This offseason was a bit disjointed. There were babies being born all over the place. There’s some injuries and of course, some of us were away with the national team. So, of course, that creates a challenge in itself. But it also presents a great opportunity for some of the younger guys to show what they can do.
“From what I heard, the reports have been great. Now as we get close to this game, we do want to really rein it in and know which guys are going to be playing and which guys are going to get called upon. But I’m hoping that each guy has the opportunity, especially the younger ones, to really show what [he] can bring to this team, not only for this season, but for years to come.”
Robles hails from Arizona. He was born and grew up in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, which is about 15 miles from the Mexican border. He expected to have friends and family to attend the FC Tucson match Saturday night and the New York City FC encounter Wednesday.
“Of course, of course. I’m Arizona through and through,” Robles said. “I love being back. Tucson is where I played my competitive soccer. I grew up about an hour and half south of here, on the U.S.-Mexico border. So, we’ll have a lot of friends and family at some of these games.”
As for Robles coming home to visits his family, that just might not be in the cards.
“Maybe. We’ll see,” he said. “We have an off-day Sunday. So maybe I’ll head down there. It’s also nice to be around the guys, too. I’ve been away from them so long. Maybe on Sunday we’ll get something going, go to the pool, do something fun. The team spirit, team camaraderie comes first.”