Orlando City announced today that the club has re-signed veteran center back Robin Jansson to a new contract. Jansson had his option year picked up after the 2020 season but the Lions rewarded his solid play with a new two-year deal with two additional option years that could see the Beefy Swede remain in a purple kit through 2024. It could potentially be Jansson’s final professional contract, as he will turn 30 in mid-November and would turn 33 just after the 2024 season.
“Robin is committed to what we are building here at Orlando City, so we are very excited to come to terms on a new deal and secure his place on our roster for future seasons,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “Having a solid defensive base helped lead us to success last season, and maintaining consistency and stability across our backline was a focus of ours this offseason. Robin has proven to be one of the most formidable defenders in Major League Soccer, and we are happy that this Club has been and will continue to be the place his talents are showcased.”
Orlando City signed Jansson, 29, on March 12, 2019 from AIK in the Allsvenskan — Sweden’s top-flight league. He became an immediate starter for the team, making 50 regular-season appearances with the Lions (all starts) over his two seasons in MLS, playing 4,401 minutes. He hasn’t yet logged a league goal or assist in a league game, but did score in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup and had a phenomenal long-distance assist on a Nani goal in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout round match-up against Minnesota this summer.
The Bengtsfors, Sweden native — per the club, as MLS lists his hometown and birthplace as the much more colorfully named Trollhattan, Sweden — passed at an 83.1% success rate in 2019 and improved that to 88.8% in 2020. He’s attempted 14 shots in his two seasons, getting one on target. This season, he led Orlando in total passes (1,054) and successful passes (938), tallying 17 interceptions, 97 clearances (4.41 per game), 19 aerials won, and 20 blocked shots. In his two seasons, he has committed 26 fouls and drawn 27. He has seen nine yellow cards and one red in his two seasons, but of his bookings, only three took place in 2020.
Before joining Orlando, 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, when he started in a friendly against Finland on Jan. 8, 2019. His unlikely success story is well-known now, having left a job at a horseshoe factory to help lead AIK to its first league title in nine years.
What it Means for Orlando City
This new contract is a huge positive for the club. Between Jansson’s new deal and the recently announced three-year deal for Antonio Carlos — which could also run through the 2024 season if his option year is exercised — the Lions have committed to growing and maintaining a central defense pairing that ranked among the best in MLS in 2020.
After a revolving door at center back from 2015-2019, the club has not only found a talented and cohesive central defense pairing, it has also made it a priority to lock that pairing down for the near future. If Jansson and Carlos can continue to stay healthy and maintain their level of play (or even improve upon it), the team is in good shape through the next couple of years.
The Lions will still need to add a depth center back to replace Alex De John, but with Rodrigo Schlegel ready to fill in for either Jansson or Carlos, Orlando City is in great shape at center back in the short term.