HANOVER, N.J. – Luis Robles, tell us how you really feel.
Robles, the New York Red Bulls goalkeeper, sounded off on Tuesday following practice about what he sees as a rising concern in MLS. In the wake of Dax McCarty’s injury, a broken tibia injury suffered in the first half of Sunday’s 2-2 result at the Chicago Fire, Robles is concerned that teams are getting away with some rough play against his teammates.
McCarty’s injury came after a rough tackle from the Fire’s Khaly Thiam. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan also suffered a tough challenge in the Fire match that could have left him injured.
“Obviously when you look throughout the league, we play in a way that can be predictable but is effective. We play fast, we counter-press, we create turnover. And sometimes the game plan against us is to foul us, sometimes the game plan against us, to slow us down, is to knock us around. The effectiveness of that game plan is dictated usually by if the calls go our way or not. You look at those two situations with Sacha, with Dax and you just wonder about player safety,” Robles said.
“I feel like the narrative within the league hasn’t necessarily been directed towards one side but [there’s] the overall concern of player safety.”
Robles cited an injury to left back Kemar Lawrence earlier this year as more proof that the Red Bulls are the target of some rough stuff out there on the field.
“I think the agitation is based, mostly around the safety of our players. We understand that teams are going to do that, it’s part of the game,” Robles said.
“But the part that leaves us most frustrated is the extent to which it effects the game. Unfortunately for us, it feels like that extent has been to a great degree. It’s something that we have to deal with but we also wonder at what point to do we get some help to protect the safety of our players.”
Robles did note that head coach Jesse Marsch tells the team to be “as honest as we can” and not dive or embellish fouls to try and catch the attention of the referee. Yet Robles is at a loss as to what his teammates can do.
If they get fouled and try to play on, he sees that the referee doesn’t make the calls. And if they do get fouled and stay down then he doesn’t hear the referee blowing the whistle.
“But if there’s a moment where we get fouled we should go down and we don’t that in a way that’s vindictive, we don’t do it in a way that is manipulative. But simply the fact if you get fouled and you have to go to the ground, alright this toughness that we were showing in the beginning, it’s not working. Maybe we just sort of have to redirect our honesty – that hasn’t seemed to work at this point either. At this point, I do feel like player safety is an issue,” Robles said. “I’m concerned about some of our key guys, some of the things they’ve endured. And unfortunately this might have been said too late because one of our key, key guys – our captain – is out four-to-six weeks.”