Since new Columbus Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter inherited a team that does not require a long orientation of getting to know each other, his players’ experience as a cohesive unit will expedite the implementation of his new tactics and philosophical approach as the season progresses. Many Black & Gold fans are hoping Porter’s strategic plan includes getting Robinho a lot of playing time.
Although he’s only been a part of the team for a few months, the 23-year-old Brazilian winger is already proving that he can positively impact the style, as well as the frequency, of the Crew creating chances on goal.
“I thought Robinho came in and kind of opened the game up a bit for us,” Porter said following the Crew’s 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls in the season opener on Saturday. “There were a couple moments that were really good chances where you think, this is going to be 2-1 and we’re gonna come out of here with a win.”
Coming in late in the second half for fellow winger Justin Meram against the Red Bulls — and in similar fashion against FC Cincinnati during the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup — Robinho has shown impressive flashes of his speed and skill in 1 v. 1 attacking play around the opponents’ 18-yard box. This is something the Black & Gold could certainly use after getting just six goals from the winger position, an area of strength in previous years, last season.
If he continues to impress and grow, Robinho will be giving Meram a run for his money this season. And the Brazilian is making a good first impression on the Crew’s veteran Argentinian maestro who will be looking him to get him the ball
“He’s a young player who’s got a lot of energy,” Federico Higuain told Massive Report. “He brings a lot of power and speed to the final third and I’m sure he’ll help the team when he’s on the field.”
Although he’s only known him for a couple of months — the deal to acquire Robinho was completed before Porter took charge in Columbus — the first-year head coach expanded on the Brazilian’s skill set as an attacking winger.
“He can jump defenders, he can run at guys, he’s got the ability to unbalance a defense 1 v. 1, all the things that we want at times in our wingers,” Porter said.
It will be interesting to see, either as a substitute or a starter, how Robinho’s instinct and prowess for taking on defenders with great speed will affect the offensive movement of his final third counterparts, as well as his supporting wingback. Relentlessly looking to take on defenders for assists and/or goals by combining with Higuain and forward Gyasi Zardes will escalate and diversify final third production for Crew SC. And Robinho’s skill set on the outside could also help prevent counter attacks from opponents when he’s on the field by not needing his supporting wingback to make as many overlapping runs to supplant the typical attacking role of the outside midfielder.
Fans got a quick glimpse of what Robinho can bring in his 10-plus-minute debut on Saturday. Although he didn’t register a shot, the winger showed his speed on the outside, attacking a tired Red Bulls’ backline.
If Robinho continues to impress as a speedy attacking winger, then he can help create an excitingly direct yet dynamic offense for Crew SC throughout the 2019 campaign, something the Black & Gold desperately need after last season.