ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson will likely miss the World Cup for the United States after rupturing the Achilles tendon in his left leg during an MLS game.
The team announced that Robinson would undergo surgery Monday after an MRI confirmed the worst-case scenario.
Robinson was injured on a noncontact play in the first half of Saturday’s 4-1 win over Chicago Fire. The 25-year-old central defender was carried off the field on a stretcher. He faces a lengthy recovery and rehab period that probably will cost him a roster spot at the World Cup.
The Americans open the tournament in Qatar on Nov. 21 against Ukraine, Scotland or Wales. Robinson started 11 of 14 World Cup qualifiers for the U.S. team.
“Just heartbreaking,” Atlanta defender Brooks Lennon said. “I think we were all kind of stunned. We’re praying for him. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Robinson took a step back near the midfield stripe to head a ball that had been headed by Chinonso Offor in the 14th minute. With Stanislav Ivanov closing in but not making contact, Robinson headed the ball down and kicked it forward with his right foot as he landed awkwardly and fell.
Robinson pointed at his left leg with his both arms, pounded the artificial turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and pointed at his leg again as athletic trainers came out to attend to him.
Robinson has three goals in 21 international appearances. He memorably scored in the 1-0 victory over Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final last August.
The loss of Robinson will force U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter to consider other options in central defense for the World Cup.
Walker Zimmerman had nine starts during qualifying, with Chris Richards getting four, John Brooks and Mark McKenzie two each, and Tim Ream one.
Aaron Long, Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers also are possibilities for the Americans.
Atlanta United, meanwhile, is dealing with another devastating injury and questions about both its training program and the FieldTurf surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta previously lost goalkeeper Brad Guzan (right Achilles), midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (right ACL) and third-string keeper Dylan Castanheira (left Achilles) to season-ending injuries.
In addition, star forward Josef Martinez is still recovering after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on April 6. The team said he would miss six to eight weeks.
“I have never seen something this bad,” United coach Gonzalo Pineda said of the run of injuries. “We’ve been checking for everything. We haven’t found anything different. We always check and compare day by day, that’s our routine, but also they went for a little bit longer time and they check for everything. There’s nothing there. I mean, at times you just have bad luck and we just have to try to find a solution.”
Atlanta's players were stunned by another major loss.
“It’s something very sad," midfielder Franco Ibarra said. "We don’t know what’s going on. I’m sad to see a team that works very hard throughout the week to come and play and have a serious injury like the ones we have been having.”
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Paul Newberry, The Associated Press