Many of the 20,356 in attendance at Toyota Park for Sunday night’s friendly between the Chicago Fire and AC Milan came to see one man: Ronaldinho.
Fans chanted his name, ran (illegally) onto the field to kiss his cleats, and buzzed every time the ball touched his feet. They waited with bated breath to see a moment of magic, the likes of which have made the 30-year-old Brazilian a legend in his own time.
Fire defender Dasan Robinson was the man tasked with making sure the former winner of the coveted Ballon D’Or trophy didn’t have any of those moments of magic. For the most part, Robinson did his job well, limiting Ronaldinho’s impact during the former Barcelona man’s 80 minutes on the field.
Despite the different atmosphere at the stadium and the elevated stature of the opponent, Robinson didn’t do anything different than he normally does.
“I try not to dive in,” said Robinson. “I always kind of let the guy make his move and then I go with him. That’s what I tried to do tonight and it worked out pretty well.”
Robinson added that another key to slowing Ronaldinho down was to always be ready for a trick or two.
“Just be ready, be ready for anything,” Robinson said. “You know how creative he is, how dynamic he is, [you have to] just be ready for anything so that’s what I tried to do.”
But Robinson—who visited Ronaldinho’s hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil, in January—did more than merely mark Ronaldinho. The 25-year-old defender also shared a couple of conversations—and laughs—with Milan’s playmaker.
“I just tried to speak a little Portuguese with him and a little Spanish and he recognized it,” Robinson said. “When I named his hometown he kind of lit up. He was like, ‘Oh, wow.’ I told him I met his brother and his family and things like that so that was pretty exciting, pretty cool.