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Building Chemistry Critical to Orlando City’s New Center Back Pairing

Robin Jansson believes chemistry with Antônio Carlos is the key to success.

SOCCER: OCT 06 MLS - Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Orlando City made several changes during this past off-season, including a new coaching staff. While there have been some key changes, there are certain players who have remained. One of those is center back Robin Jansson. The 28-year-old Swede will enter his second season with the Lions, but with a new center back partner.

There was a lot to get used to for Jansson during the 2019 season. In addition to being a new center back partner with Lamine Sané, he also had to get used to a new league and culture. Returning to the team for his second season will make the preparation a little bit easier.

“That’s what I got from last year,” Jansson said about having a full season in MLS under his belt. “I got to know a little bit about the league, I got to know about the players, how the play is on the field. To get settled in with that, I think it’s easier to start the second season.”

While the play on the field might be a little bit easier, there is one aspect that will be a challenge. Last season, Jansson was mostly paired with the Senegalese international and the two did well together. But Sané departed the club after the season and was replaced by Brazilian center back Antônio Carlos. The 26-year-old former Brazil U-20 international joins the Lions on loan from Palmeiras in his native country.

It’s important for the center back pairing to have good communication — something that has plagued Orlando City in the past. Carlos has fellow countryman Ruan starting alongside him, but the new addition doesn’t speak much English. It’s something that Jansson said is a challenge and that he is looking to help with.

While there is currently a language barrier with the center back pairing, the veteran Swede said it will only be an issue in the interim. After a while, they’ll get used to each other and be able to read each other’s play. The language gap will become less of an issue.

“We just need to train with each other, getting to know each other on the field,” Jansson said. “Normally on the field, you integrate in a way that, if you get a good chemistry, you don’t have to speak that much. Because you know how your friend beside you is working.”

Jansson added that, in addition to getting used to playing with one another, it’s also about showing an effort to teach the language to each other. With that comes a familiarity that will improve their partnership and understanding on the field.

“We need to play some games together and try to get the chemistry together,” Jansson said. “He’s a great player, so I’m excited to start working with him. Maybe he needs to learn a little bit of English and I, maybe, some Portuguese. It’s quite hard but you always say, ‘hi’ in the morning when you meet and you try to understand something.”

Orlando City’s newest center back pairing has now been playing together for about a month, although Jansson did miss some preseason time to deal with some visa requirements. Their efforts will be on display when they take the field for the team’s first MLS game of 2020 Saturday evening against Real Salt Lake at Exploria Stadium.