Antonee Robinson, 21, is hoping to earn the U.S. men's national team's starting spot at left back, and the England-born defender joins the Planet Fútbol Podcast to discuss his growth with the USMNT and his connection to the USA.
On the latest Planet Fútbol podcast ahead of Thursday’s U.S. men’s national team friendly against Colombia, SI.com interviewed Antonee Robinson, the 21-year-old U.S. left back who’s playing in England for Wigan Athletic (on loan from Everton) this season. Robinson maintains dual citizenship with the U.S. and England, and has an opportunity to earn a starting spot for the U.S. for the foreseeable future at a position that's traditionally been a rotating door for the men's national team. Robinson discusses all of that, plus his personal connection to the United States in the conversation.
You can listen to full discussion in the podcast console here, with Robinson's interview starting at the 38:43 mark, and you can subscribe to and download the Planet Fútbol Podcast on iTunes. Recent guests include former U.S. men's national team standout Tony Sanneh, broadcaster Derek Rae, U.S. and Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen, RB Leipzig assistant and former New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch and Roma sporting director Monchi.
Here's a selection of the interview:
On what he experienced during last month’s friendlies against Brazil (when he was victimized by Douglas Costa on the first Brazilian goal) and Mexico (when he came back to provide the assist on the U.S. game-winner scored by Tyler Adams):
“The first game, it was a real test. We were going up against Brazil, one of the best footballing teams in the world. That's their reputation. It was a really tough game, obviously, on my side. I've got Douglas Costa, one of the best wingers in the world. On a few occasions he showed that class and took me down the line, got the assist for the first goal they had. But overall, especially in the second half, I thought we played a bit better. It was a tough game, but toward the end we got better as a team. And then the second game against Mexico I wasn't starting, but I was ready to come on and make an impact. And thankfully I came on and got an assist for the goal. It just rounded off the camp in a positive way.”
On what he did between the two games last month:
“Just sitting down and watching the clips back from the game. The times when I was in good position and the times I was in bad positions, watching them, analyzing where I was and what you can improve on for next game. The coaching staff, Dave, took me aside and showed me the clips and just tried to speak to me and tell me how I can do better. And luckily in the second game I didn't get punished like I did in the first.”
On how he’ll approach this week’s friendlies against Colombia and Peru—and in particular their fast, skillful wide players—while trying to attack as well:
“I'd say first things first, you’ve got to think about you’re a defender, you're there to stop goals. The very first job I'll have is shut my man down at all times, trying not to let him create any goals or score himself. And then after that being able to try and affect the game positively because in the end we want to win. We don't want to just sit back and defend against good players. We want to attack.”
On his dual citizenship for England and the United States:
“My grandma on my dad's side lived between Florida and New York. And my father [Marlon Robinson] was born in England and moved out there [to the U.S.] when he was young. He lived in White Plains, New York. Then he moved to North Carolina to go to Duke University. So ever since I was a kid I knew I had dual citizenship and I could play for both teams.”