Antonee_robinson_-_asn_top_-_isi_-_usmnt_training_-_6-3-19_-_john_dorton_-_1 John Dorton/ISI Photos
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Robinson happy to be back with the USMNT, looking for a Gold Cup spot

Everton's Antonee Robinson is coming off a second straight successfull loan in the Championship where he helped his club avoid relegation. But the English-born left back has big plans and is aiming for a spot on the Gold Cup team and Everton's first team. ASN's Brian Sciaretta recently spoke with Robinson. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 04, 2019
6:00 PM
LAST NOVEMBER, Antonee Robinson was in camp with the United States national team as it prepared to take on England in a friendly at Wembley Stadium. Robinson, however, was injured prior to the game and missed a large portion of the season with Wigan Athletic. Until now, he has not been back with the national team. 

Robinson, 21, is currently in camp with the U.S. team and is part of the 29 player roster for Wednesday’s pre-Gold Cup friendly against Jamaica in Washington, D.C. Robinson is also part of the 40 player preliminary Gold Cup roster and hopes to make the final 23-player roster which will be unveiled on Thursday.

His call-up was well earned as Robinson regained his starting left-back spot back with Wigan and eventually played a role helping the club avoid relegation out of the Championship. Playing for the U.S. national team is very important to the English-born Robinson and this call-up is a meaningful reward for his season.

“It's brilliant. When I came back here and that was what I was looking forward to, hoping I'd be called up for the Gold Cup this summer,” Robinson told ASN just prior to arriving in the United States for camp. “So, I'm still hoping that this upcoming camp I do well and it gets me a place in the Gold Cup squad. But after such a long time no way it was good to be back playing well for my club and then being recognized and being rewarded by this call-up. It means a lot to me.”

Robinson has a lot on his plate at the moment on the international level because in addition to the senior U.S. national team, Robinson is also eligible for the U.S. U-23 Olympic team. Shortly after he returned to Wigan’s starting lineup after the injury in March, Robinson was called up by the U.S. U-23 team for its first camp under new manager Jason Kreis.

Robinson took part in the friendlies where the U.S. team lost to Egypt but played Holland to a 0-0 draw where it created numerous chances – several of which Robinson was involved. And while he grew up in Milton Keynes, England where Olympic soccer is not a priority, Robinson places a lot of value in the event.

“I really enjoyed working under Jason and he seems like a really good coach from first meeting him. He pretty much said he wanted what the first team is doing so he was trying to employ Gregg's style of play,” Robinson said. “Against Holland, I think we were all pleasantly surprised that we were playing against such a good team and we were playing really well. Funnily enough, we felt like we dominated the game. It was one of my more enjoyable games and I didn't want to come off. But I think that camp went really well.”

“England doesn't have as much interest in the Olympics,” Robinson added. “But growing up, I've always thought it would be a really big achievement to play in the Olympics. And it was definitely something fram when I first got called-up to the U.S. that I was really thinking that I'd be age eligible for this. For me it would be a major achievement to win something at the Olympics.”

Of course the U-23 national team camp was also Robinson’s first steps in Gregg Berhalter’s system. Kreis is attempting to have the U-23 team play in a similar style to what Berhalter uses with the full team and one of the many characteristics of the Berhalter’s system is the use of fullbacks.

In his first four games as coach of the national team, Berhalter has opted to have one fullback move forward into the attack, and often cut in centrally into the midfield, while the other fullback tends to remain further back with the central defenders.

At the club level so far, Robinson has typically pushed forward a lot into the attack using his speed and athleticism. But he has also improved significantly in his defense after playing in two consecutive relegation battles where his teams have often been on their back feet. He is looking forward to seeing how that can translate into Berhalter’s system.

“They see it as when we're attacking, one fullback cuts in and makes it sort of three in the back, and the other fullback join to the midfield,” Robinson said. “Like you see Tyler Adams playing right back - doing that role go into center mid. That's something that would suit him. For me personally, I'm quite comfortable dropping into a left CB role in defending. It doesn't suit my game like entirely - not being able to bomb on. I think that's the reason why Gregg got me into this camp so we can see how I adapt to the style of play. So it'll be a challenge for me just to see how I fit into that role. But if I can bring something to the team then that's why I'm hoping to do. I'm really looking forward to at least trying to see how I get on but. It's just an interesting thing for me. I love to try something new.”

At the club level, things are very much open for Robinson. He is signed with Everton in the Premier League but has spent the two seasons on loan. In 2017/18 it was with Bolton and in 2018/19 it was with Wigan Athletic. In both seasons, Robinson was able to play over 2300 minutes and earn favorable reviews for his play in successful relegation battles.

Robinson is adamant that the past two seasons have helped him and he does not know what next season will hold but the initial plan is for him to report with Everton for preseason – where he hopes he can build a case to be in the Premier league.

“I'm hoping I might find a place to try and see how I can stack up in the Premier League,” Robinson said. “I feel like I've improved a lot since I first joined Bolton last year in the Championship. It's a very tough league to play in - a very physically demanding league. The teams I've been in, played very different styles but they were both ultimately lower in the table and that's able so it was it was more fighting against relegation. But when you get put in those situations as a young player and you come out of it and not get relegated, it benefits you a lot.”

For now, Robinson is simply happy to be back with the national team and will be looking for his seventh cap with the U.S. national team. All six of his appearances came in 2018 under interim manager Dave Sarachan and that gave him his first taste of international soccer at the senior level.

But now he is looking forward to building something and making and playing on the Gold Cup team would be a huge accomplishment and one that would permanently cap-tie him to the U.S. team.

“It means everything to me,” Robinson said. “Dave [Sarachan] introduced me to the international stage and got me in the fold for hopefully the squad I'll be playing with for years to come. I really enjoyed playing under him. We played again some really top teams as well - whether it might be friendlies. And we had young squads, mixed squads but ultimately it gave me a lot of hope that the team is going to go on and do well seeing so many young players do so well on the international stage. I see a lot of potential in our team for the future.”

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