Luis Robles is departing camp today with a new experience behind him and an even bigger one laying ahead – his wedding on June 7 in Arizona. Born in Ft. Huachaca, Robles spent four years at the University of Portland before landing at FC Kaiserslautern in Germany. Now with a couple of seasons of moving up the ranks at the club, he got his first sniff with the national team this week. It’s fair to say that Luis has enjoyed the ride…
us: When did you first become aware the national team staff was keeping an eye on you?
Luis: “Back in December, there had been some communication about me possibly coming in for January. It didn’t work out, but I felt if I kept playing well I would get another opportunity. While Heath Pearce was in with the team in March, he was asking about my status - I had just torn ligaments in my right ankle. I was told by the goalkeeper coach that I might get a look in the summer. I thought there might be a chance, so I focused on recovery and finishing the season strong.”
us: What is the Heath Pearce connection?
Luis: “Heath and I knew each other through regional ODP, and then we played together at the University of Portland.”
us: Heath also made the jump from UP to across the pond. How did your journey start?
Luis: "I was drafted by D.C. United in 2007, but I still wanted to test the waters. I left the next day for Germany. I had a trial with a 2nd division team in East Germany, but since I arrived a few days early my agent set up a training session with reserve team at Kaiserslautern. As soon as the session was over, the first team coach invited me to stay a week, and then I got signed by the reserve team on a six month contract.”
us: And then it was back to job hunting?
Luis: “At that point, I didn’t know what FCK was going to do, so I had to look for a new team. Basically I was unemployed sitting in farm house in Germany wondering what was going to happen next. My neighbors were two horses and four sheep. On the day of the transfer deadline, they sold one of their ‘keepers and I signed again as the third string guy for the 2007-08 season.”
us: Clearly things have continued to progress…
Luis: "It’s been great. I started the year as the number two. When the starter got hurt, I came in and did well, and the team got on a good run. FCK is a very popular club. The team has been around since 1900, and has a much storied history. It’s closely linked to the success of the German national team, particularly early on. I really enjoy it there.”
us: So when did the message come from U.S. Soccer that you were being called into camp?
Luis: "A couple weeks ago I got an email from the general manager. I woke up in the morning and had an email that had the subject line national team invitation, and I kind of freaked out.”
us: Describe ‘freaked out’.
Luis: "I called my parents and my fiancé. The experience this year has been surreal, from making my pro debut, keeping the first team spot, and now getting married. The national team call up is the cherry on top.”
us: How has the experience been for you?
Luis: “These are the players I have been watching on television, and now I am training with them and introducing myself to someone who I already felt like I knew from seeing them play. All that said, as soon as training started it just felt normal. We just got down to playing football.”
us: What surprised you the most from the week?
Luis: “I didn’t know what to expect – whether there would be big egos or things like that, but everyone is very relaxed. It’s great to be back in an environment where everyone speaks the same language. I’ve had a lot of fun talking with guys at meals, and getting out a little bit. Trainings were intense, but not to the breaking point. The level is fantastic. One thing that concerned me was that the level might be too quick from the get go. I think I adapted well. I’m really impressed with how smart everyone is with the ball, and technically sound with decisions. With everything here, you can tell everyone is enjoying what they’re doing.”