The safe hands of Luis Robles
May 1, 2014
In the early days, Metro was blessed with some great goalkeepers. Even when the rest of the team wasn't performing, one could rest assure that the last line of defense would be up to par. Tony Meola. Mike Ammann. Tim Howard. Jonny Walker.
But something changed in 2005. Walker, not healthy enough to start the season, was shelved. In came in Zach Wells, who despite one memorable shutout performance against DC, was more suited to be a backup. Meola returned, had an amazing game that clinched that year's playoff berth, but dipped greatly and was forced out. Jon Conway came in, put up good numbers, but folded when it counted. Ronald Waterreus started great, but fell to earth as quickly. Danny Cepero had a great playoff run but in the end wasn't up to snuff. Bouna Coundoul made some great saves, but was a calamity waiting to happen. The less said about Greg Sutton, the better. Ryan Meara had a promising run at the start of 2012, but an injury shelved him. Bill Gaudette was another glorified backup. Which brings us to Luis Robles.
Now, not many were on board when Robles was signed late in that 2012 season. Gaudette was proving adequate, and Meara was bound to return from injury soon. And here was a career journeyman, who couldn't make it in Germany's second division, and was selling real estate over the summer. Surely, we could do better?
Oh, how wrong we were. For the first time since those early days, it feels like we have one of the league's elite manning Metro's nets. Sure, Robles is not perfect. In fact, early in his Metro career he made a number of memorable mistakes, and his inability to hold on to the ball was deemed a liability. But something happened since then. The mistakes have been kept to a minimum, replaced instead by a steady presence that commands the nets with authority. How many breakaways has Robles stopped? How many balls did he punch over the bar at the last possible moment?
For the first time in years, it feels safe having our fates in the hands of our goalkeeper. Now, if they could only stop giving up all those penalty kicks...