On Aug. 3, left back Antonee Robinson became the latest of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s younger generation to make a move this summer, inking a new three-year contract with English Premier League side Everton before agreeing to a season-long loan with newly-promoted Wigan Atletic in the English League Championship.
“It feels great to know that Everton have faith in me with this contract,” Robinson told ussoccer.com via phone Friday morning. “Even though at the minute they feel I might not be quite ready for the Premier League with the team they have, they do feel I’ve got a future with them. They just want me to get loaned out and get that experience. I think I’ll get really good experience with Wigan. They’re a great footballing team and it should allow me to grow even more.”
Part of the Everton setup since age 11, Robinson heads to Wigan after spending his first full professional season on loan with fellow Championship side Bolton Wanderers. The 20-year-old left back gained valuable experience at the Macron Stadium, playing 30 matches while helping Bolton avoid relegation on the final day of the campaign.
Bolton had shown interest in bringing Robinson back on loan this season, but Wigan manager Paul Cook had long sought to get the U.S. left back to the DW Stadium.
“Both teams wanted me, but when I spoke to people I trusted – friends, family, coaches – and weighed the two clubs together, I felt like I learned a lot at Bolton but I could learn even more at Wigan with the style of play. The manager knows that I’m an attacking fullback and he really wants to exploit that in the team. He definitely likes for the fullbacks to get forward, bombing up and down and attacking in the final third of the field. He also trusts me enough to get back and defend when I have to.”
“He also said that he’s wanted me for a while and that I don’t have to worry too much about what’s going well and what’s going bad. He’s going to put a lot of faith in me and he’ll be there for me.”
WATCH: Antonee Robinson and Erick Lichaj Give Soccer Clinic at U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Dublin
The loan deal was announced one day before Wigan’s first match of the new Championship season against Sheffield Wednesday, and even though Robinson has trained just once with the side the club’s official website noted that he could make his debut in Saturday’s opener.
With his future settled for some time, Robinson will hope to keep up the performances that brought him into the MNT picture earlier this year. Having previously suited up for the U-18 MNT, the English-born left back caught the attention of U.S. MNT head coach Dave Sarachan, who summoned Robinson for camp ahead of the MNT’s 1-0 victory against Paraguay back in March. Though he didn’t play a part in that match, Robinson counts himself as one of 18 players Sarachan has handed a senior debut after suiting up and assisting in the MNT's 3-0 win against Bolivia on May 28.
In June, Robinson received high marks for his play against Kylian Mbappe and the French attack during the USA’s 1-1 draw with Les Bleus in their last match before the team’s World Cup-winning campaign in Russia. Robinson came away thrilled with his 82-minute runout in Lyon and said the experienced left him excited for what is to come for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“After we played that game I said they would win the World Cup. A few of the other players did as well. We performed very well against them and it goes to show that even though we’re a young team just getting to know each other, as long as the team develops together over the years we’ve got a real chance of winning stuff in the not too distant future. It’s a real eye-opener for the standard the players are at. You take an experience like that and it makes you continue to push and strive to be better.”
With the fall Kickoff Series set to pit the MNT against the likes of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, England and Italy, Robinson and his peers will have plenty more tests before the year ends.
“I followed the fixtures that have been announced and I’ve been looking forward to them. I’m really hoping I can be involved because these are the types of games you want to be involved in. Every young player wants the chance to play the best teams in the world and these are against some top international teams. Hopefully it helps us prove we’re going to be a top international team ourselves. I’m looking forward to being called up and getting involved in the games.”