After respective substitution appearances in Columbus Crew SC’s first two matches, midfielder Robinho earned his first start with the Black & Gold in the Club’s 1-0 victory over FC Dallas, a move that was part tactical, part intuition, according to head coach Caleb Porter.
“It was part tactical, but part just seeing Robinho being lively when he came into the game,” Porter said in the post-match press conference. “Obviously I have the opportunity to watch these guys in training every day and I just thought he was in a good spot.”
Prior to Saturday, Robinho, who was acquired from Ceara Sporting Club on January 18, 2019, combined for 27 minutes in his first two appearances. Against FC Dallas, in a match with added emphasis on creativity in the flanks, Porter mentioned, the Brazilian totaled the highest passing accuracy in the opponent’s half (min. 15 passes) at 94.4 percent, as Crew SC (2-0-1, 7 pts.) kept over 80 percent of its attacking-half possession in the outside flanks.
“If you noticed today, we were - we worked on it all week - we were much more effective on creating width on the flanks through our wingers and outside backs,” Porter said. “We knew that was going to be an important element in the game, so we trained that all week but then we also felt like a personnel change would help bring that dimension as well.”
Robinho totaled two shots, including a low knuckler that Dallas goalkeeper and U.S. Men's National Team call-up Jesse Gonzalez managed to get down on just in time.
Following the match, Robinho spoke on the opportunity.
"I feel very happy. I was happy because I’ve gotten the opportunity and I think I did a good job. I think I went out there and made the most of the opportunity, so just happy overall," Robinho said.
Placed high along the left wing, Robinho showcased tenacity on the defensive end as well, totaling a game-high 19 duels and a co-game-high five tackles.
Albeit partly a tactical decision to start the Brazilian, Robinho’s start was also a reflection of his performance in training, noting his need as a leader "to reward other players as well," and saying he thought "Robinho deserved the start."
Taking a step back, Robinho's inclusion is ultimately part of a larger, next-man-up mentality that Porter is looking for from this team, and not just from the 18 guys that dress on matchdays.
“We’ll keep growing as a team, prepare 20 guys every single day, always, because you never know when you’re going to get an injury,” Porter said. “I’ve obviously been in this league and I know you’re going to lose guys to international duty, you’re going to have to rotate. I never lose sight of that, I need everyone. I say that all the time and I’m not shallow in saying that, I mean it. And I tell the guys daily. It’s going to be great, some of these guys deserve to play and I’m excited to give them the opportunity to play and invest in this season inside the lines. Everybody invests every day in the season - the whole squad - not everybody gets to invest in the 90 minutes and putting points in our bank for the end of the year. I’m excited for these guys.”
With four Crew SC players leaving for international duty during the upcoming international break, supporters will get to see some changes in the 18 as the Crew (2-0-1, 7 pts.) heads to Philadelphia on Saturday, March 23 to take on the Union at 7:30 p.m. ET. Supporters can watch the match on FOX Sports Ohio, stream on FOX Sports GO, or listen on 97.1 FM The Fan or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).