After struggling to get on the field for the Lions following Orlando City’s trade with the Columbus Crew on July 11 of last year, attacking midfielder/winger Robinho had to be determined to get a fresh start with a new coaching staff in 2020. Instead, the Brazilian saw fewer games, fewer starts, and fewer minutes despite an incredible amount of fixture congestion and some knocks to attacking players in the middle of the season, and he may have played his way out of MLS.
Let’s take a look at Robinho’s second disappointing season — and seemingly his last — in Orlando.
Robinho appeared in five matches in 2020, starting two, and played 144 total minutes. These numbers were down from six games, three starts, and 207 minutes a year ago. The 25-year-old native of Madalena, Brazil again did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots, getting one on target. These numbers represent half of his 2019 totals, when he took six shots and got two on frame. However, he came the closest he’s ever come to scoring in purple when he hit the post in a 0-0 draw at Atlanta on Oct. 7. He was also denied by a good save by Brad Guzan in that game, accounting for his lone shot on target in 2020.
The Brazilian passed at an 85.9% rate on the season, connecting on of 55 of his 64 attempts and creating one scoring chance. Robinho committed three fouls and drew four on the opposition, and did not see a card in 2020. Defensively, he chipped in five tackles and an interception.
Robinho did not appear in any of the MLS is Back knockout stage matches but he did appear in one playoff game, coming on in the 87th minute in the 3-1 loss to New England just after Gustavo Bou put the dagger in the net. It felt at the time like a token final appearance for Robinho at the time and was reminiscent of Sacha Kljestan’s last appearance in front of the home crowd the year before in a home drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Fire. Still, Robinho completed all four of his pass attempts in that playoff game, attempting one shot, which was not on target.
Perhaps the oddest stat of Robinho’s time in Orlando is this: the Lions didn’t win any of the games in which he participated. All of his starts with Orlando City were draws. The team went 0-0-5 overall — 0-0-2 in 2020 and 0-0-3 in 2019. If you add in bench appearances to the starts, both regular-season appearances and playoffs, Orlando City went 0-4-8 when Robinho saw the field across two seasons.
I’m going to go against my colleagues a bit here, because Scott Carnevale gave Robinho a 6 for his performance in the season opener against Real Salt Lake, which was probably too high, and David Rohe gave him a 4 in the 0-0 draw at Atlanta, which was low in my mind. The only other match in which Robinho played enough minutes to receive a grade was a 4 for his performance in a 1-1 draw at Nashville.
I’ll say his best game was his start at Atlanta. His passing rate was slightly higher in this one than in the opener and with more than twice as many attempts, and he failed to register a shot attempt vs. RSL. He began the game brightly in Atlanta and was at least a threat on the pitch, getting a bit unlucky to crash a shot off the post and also getting denied on a great save by Guzan.
His two shot attempts were a season high and he registered his only shot on target. The Brazilian certainly faded as the game wore on and seemed to try to do too much at times, but it was still his best match of the season as far as I’m concerned.
2020 Final Grade
Robinho is getting an incomplete grade for the 2020 season, as he didn’t meet the minimum minutes threshold to earn a final grade for the season, which also happened last year. There simply wasn’t enough playing time to warrant giving him a rating for the full season. When he saw playing time in the season opener, it seemed as if 2020 held a lot of promise for the Brazilian, but things never quite worked out, and the writing was on the wall when he continued to ride the bench when fixture congestion set in and guys were picking up minor knocks that kept them out of the lineup.
The Lions declined Robinho’s option for 2021, so he’ll need to find a new team. The Brazilian is the only player to date brought in by the current regime who didn’t work out all that well, apart from some lower draft picks and perhaps first-round pick Santiago Patiño. Aside from Robinho, all of the transfers brought in under Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira have had some measure of success. Robinho appears to be a talented guy who can pass and keep the ball, but he has to find a way to have more success in getting shots on target — scoring the occasional goal — or creating more chances for his teammates. Even when at his best, he alternated between being selfish in the final third or making a poor decision. At 25 years old, he might simply be a USL-level talent. But perhaps he can find his form with a fresh start elsewhere.