Robinho joined Orlando City following a trade with the Columbus Crew on July 11, the first of two acquisitions in the summer transfer window. By adding Robinho, the Lions looked to jump start offensive production and offer depth in wide attacking positions.
The Brazilian winger was only brought to MLS from Brazilian Serie A side Ceará Sporting Club in January by current Orlando City Director of Scouting Ricardo Moreira with the deal reportedly done while Gregg Berhalter was still in charge. But the Crew, under new management with Caleb Porter, felt it had seen enough by July to jettison Robinho and recoup some of the rumored $250,000 transfer fee quickly. The move was pretty low risk from an Orlando point of view — the Lions only had to pay $50,000 in 2019 Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to bring him in, while his $205,500 salary put him 13th overall on Orlando. He did, however, require an international slot and may cost an additional $70,000 in 2020 TAM based on performance bonuses.
All in all, the move was a no-harm, no-foul type of play. He didn’t damage the team in any significant way nor swallow up any resources, but he was significantly short of adding anything substantial. In a season where Nani stood out but Chris Mueller failed to push on following a decent rookie season, Robinho had the opportunity to stake a claim in the rotation out wide. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old could only earn three starts, with his longest appearance totaling 68 minutes against Toronto in August. After he reacted tearfully to his halftime substitution against Minneosta United, Robinho was only included in two of the remaining seven squads and made one solitary appearance — a three-minute cameo against LAFC.
Robinho appeared in six MLS games (three starts) for Orlando this after the trade, for a total of 208 minutes. He did not score or assist on a goal but did manage six shots, with four coming inside the penalty area and two on target. His main strength was dribbling though. He attempted 23, an average of one every nine minutes, although only nine (39%, down from his 54% rate in Columbus) were successful. Meanwhile, as is the nature of the position, he lost possession a hefty 15 times.
During his limited game time, Robinho averaged 15 passes per game, fewer than only forwards Benji Michel, Dom Dwyer, and Santiago Patiño. He does improve to 14th in terms of minutes per pass on the team, better than the likes of Robin Jansson, Ruan, and Carlos Ascues, but it’s still not ideal for a player you look to create through.
Defensively Robinho was pretty active when on the field, registering as the second-most frequent tackler with an attempt every 18.9 minutes. But again, limited game time means he drops to 14th in per appearance numbers. In raw numbers, six of his 11 tackle attempts were successful.
Having maxed out at 68 minutes and only making three starts, there’s not much to pick from when it comes to Robinho’s best game and his case isn’t helped by the fact he didn’t put much on tape. I guess by default his best rating in our player grades was 6.5, as awarded by Ben Miller in the Minnesota United game that saw him removed at halftime. Orlando City saw quite a lot of success from substitutes this year, but in his three appearances as a substitute Robinho only played more than three minutes from the bench once. It was a 23-minute run out in a 1–0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls, a performance that earned him a grade of 5 in our player ratings as selected by me.
2019 Final Grade
Unfortunately Robinho didn’t play enough minutes to meet The Mane Land threshold to award him a grade, which probably tells you all you need to know about his career as a Lion so far. Even Mauricio Pereyra, who arrived three weeks later than Robinho and struggled with fitness throughout his time, managed to play enough minutes while Robinho was left out by choice in a right wing position predominantly owned by forward-turned-makeshift-winger Tesho Akindele.
If I knew the length of MLS’ mystery contracts then I’d be able to give a little more insight as to where the team stands with Robinho. The fact that Orlando will have a new head coach can only benefit Robinho, who now hypothetically has a clean slate. Given that Ricardo Moreira went and acquired him twice, the winger also clearly has at least one person in Orlando who will perhaps plead his case and it’s someone that Luiz Muzzi will likely trust based on his early track record.
From what Robinho has shown both in Orlando and Columbus, maybe it’s harsh to judge a player based on a stop-start debut season in a new league that has already seen him change teams, but I wouldn’t predict him to return if the team has the option to avoid bringing him back. We haven’t seen anything useful from him and now the team has a significant amount of cap space. However, I don’t think Muzzi sees Robinho playing a part in the club’s future while the international roster spot he takes up can be better used.