Miles Robinson aims to return Syracuse men’s soccer to form after returning from US national team

first_img Published on October 12, 2016 at 8:48 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 Missing from what was one of the nation’s steadiest defenses was its central defender. The player whose head rises above the others on header opportunities. The one who starts fast breaks by clearing balls out to midfielders as often as he stops opponents from doing so.The one who, even as a center back, scored four goals in Syracuse’s first nine games.The Orange, amid a four-game winless streak, has missed Miles Robinson since the 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore left. He has not played the last two games — both Syracuse losses — since being called to the United States Men’s Under-20 National Team.Lately, miscommunication and missed assignments have plagued the Syracuse defense. Without Robinson, SU’s unit wasn’t thin — Louis Cross, Kamal Miller and John-Austin Ricks are capable of holding down the line — but lacked the body that powered it to the No. 2 ranking. After a week with the national team, Robinson returns to the heart of No. 10 Syracuse’s (8-3-1, 2-2-1 Atlantic Coast) defense Friday night vs. No. 15 Virginia Tech.“I’ll try to make it easy for the boys,” Robinson said. “Just get everything back to normal.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTony D. Curtis | Staff PhotographerSyracuse has searched for the momentum it built in its start since its first loss on Sept. 23. The Orange has not won since Sept. 20, dropping to No. 10 from stints at No. 2 to No. 3 in the NSCAA poll. Syracuse looks lighter defensively and hasn’t had its primary threat on set pieces, where Robinson thrives.Three of his team-leading four goals have come on sets in which he headed the ball into the net. Opponents put their best bodies on Robinson but succumb to his athleticism. He routinely beats out his teammates in weight room and agility testing.“The ball’s in the air, out of nowhere you hear Miles Robinson,” freshman midfielder Mo Adams said. “All you hear is ‘Miles’s ball’ and that’s when you know to get out of the way for Miles to win the header.”“He’s miles ahead of everybody.”Robinson, who was offered the national team spot a few weeks ago, started two games last week in Manchester, England. He didn’t see the field in a game against Germany but started against Holland and England. One of only three collegiate players to have made the trip, Robinson could re-join the team in January.Tony D. Curtis | Staff PhotographerLast Friday at Louisville, Syracuse played a 4-4-2 formation instead of its standard 3-5-2. It commanded possession throughout the second half, outshot the Cardinals, 11-6, and allowed only two shots on goal. But an early defensive mistake let one of the nation’s best scorers find the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winner.Had Robinson been there, players said, the goal probably would not have been prevented. But it’s his mere presence they expect will buttress the Syracuse defense. With him, the defense can return to its standard set and try to give opposing playmakers headaches again.“He’s an absolute beast,” Adams said. “I’ve never seen anyone go past him. It’s amazing to have him behind me. I feel more confident when I have the ball. He’s always there to sweep up.”He started in all 25 games last year and all 10 games this year until the Albany game last week. He scored goals in two of his last three games before leaving for the national team. In a 3-2 overtime victory over St. John’s, he halved his 2015 scoring total with his two-goal and one-assist clinic. Against No. 2 Notre Dame, he scored SU’s lone goal on a header off a corner with less than 12 minutes in regulation. His goal tied the game and sent it to overtime.“He’s definitely the guy you want to look for on a corner kick,” said Callahan, who usually kicks corners. “In my opinion, he’s the best header on the ball in college soccer. Not having him is a bit of a loss.”The Syracuse offense has stalled since its 8-0 historic start. Its defense hasn’t been sharp. The Orange has played its worst soccer without its sophomore center back.Robinson could stabilize a wobbly Syracuse team. All he wants to do is lift a slipping unit back to normalcy. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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