After a tough first start in Toronto earlier this year and then biding his time on the bench and with the reserves, Eddie Robinson got the call as a starter on Saturday night against Chivas USA. Known as an intense competitor, Robinson was called upon to help rekindle a physical brand of soccer Houston’s been missing.
“It’s the mentality we’ve talked about all year, and if you go back and ask people, I’ve built the type of reputation where, on the field, guys don’t like me,” Robinson said of his intense playing style.
No stranger to taking advantage of opportunities, Robinson — who first established himself as a starter for the San Jose Earthquakes when Jeff Agoos tore his ACL in the 2002 World Cup — aimed to take advantage of center backs Jermaine Taylor and Andre Hainault being away on national team duty.
Robinson looked to be on his way to doing just that and rewarding head coach Dominic Kinnear’s faith in him, playing solid defense and pressuring the near post on the decisive own-goal, when the night took an unlucky turn. The veteran center back sprained the MCL in his left knee in the second half, which forced a 56th-minute exit.
“I thought [Eddie] was good until he got hurt,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “He moved the ball well and, defensively, he was very combative and was good in the air.”
However, while the injury ended Robinson’s night early, it may not keep him out of action long.
No timetable for a return was given, but Robinson is encouraged by the way his knee feels. After suffering from serious knee issues that derailed his 2009 and 2010 seasons, the center back is motivated to get back soon and show the coaches he can contribute to his team’s success.
“It’s about making the most of your chances,” Robinson said. “I feel like I’m back to the point where I’m a good player and someone [who] other teams hate to play against and that my teammates like to have on the field. I’ve got a history of being a quick healer. I hope it’s a trend that continues now, especially since there are minutes available.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.