Sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed to The Mane Land that Orlando City is in advanced discussions to add 27-year-old center back Robin Jansson to the Lions’ roster in 2019. Just two days ago, Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi told prosoccerusa.com that the team was “possibly still looking at, maybe, one addition.”
Media reports out of Sweden have linked Orlando City to Jansson and that one addition Muzzi spoke of, provided everything works out, appears to be the Swedish defender.
The 6-foot-1 Jansson appeared in 25 games (all starts) with AIK during the 2018 Allsvenskan season, playing 2,523 minutes and scoring two goals with one assist. One of those goals came against Kalmar FF to ensure AIK clinched the Allsvenskan title. He also notched a goal in the club’s Svenska Cupen (Swedish Cup) match and he started all three of AIK’s Europa League qualifying matches. He was booked four times in league play and once in a Europa League qualifier.
Beginning his career with BK Häcken’s youth side, Jansson made only one appearance with the first team, tallying just 22 minutes in a Swedish Cup game. His first career pro game came in 2011 on loan with FC Trollhättan. Following a stint with Bengtsfors IF in Sweden’s lower divisions from 2012 to 2015, he played 50 matches in all competitions with IK Oddevold in the Swedish third division from 2016-2018, scoring two goals and assisting on five others.
He has also made one appearance with the Swedish national team, which came earlier this year, when he started in a friendly against Finland on Jan. 8, 2019. Given his success with AIK and his recent national team appearance, it would seem Jansson is a player on the rise, perhaps being a late bloomer, so if he works out for Orlando City, it would speak well of Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira in finding and pursuing him. The story becomes even more intriguing when you consider that Jansson left a job at a horseshoe factory to help lead AIK to its first league title in nine years.
What This Means for Orlando City
The Lions appear to be heading into the season with the intent of playing a three-man back line much of the time. The current roster is thin at that position if there are injuries, because there are only four true center backs on the current squad — Lamine Sané, Shane O’Neill, Alex De John, and Carlos Ascues. Rookie SuperDraft pick Kamal Miller has not yet been officially signed, although roster compliance day is today in MLS. City views players like Joao Moutinho, Danny Acosta, and perhaps even Dillon Powers or Uri Rosell as potential emergency plug-ins if needed, but that’s obviously not an ideal situation. Orlando would likely move back to a standard four-man line before that happened.
Provided he acclimates quickly to the league, Jansson provides another solid option at center back and his value (per Transfermarkt his maximum value is around 750,000 Euros per year) would indicate he’s coming here to win a starting spot. This would allow James O’Connor a bit more relief in knowing he has capable backups if someone goes down — we’ve seen both Sané and Ascues deal with various knocks over the last year. If Sané, Ascues, and Jansson are the starters, it would give O’Connor some security knowing he has solid players like O’Neill and De John — who played well in the preseason match against New York City FC in the Orlando City Invitational — ready to rotate in if needed.
Now let’s take a look at Jansson’s decisive goal for AIK to clinch the Allsvenskan.