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2021 Orlando City Season in Review: Robin Jansson

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The Beefy Swede was solid once again in his third season in Orlando.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

In some respects, it’s hard to believe Robin Jansson has been with Orlando City for three seasons, but in others it feels like he’s been the back line’s dependable security blanket forever. Jansson signed with the Lions on March 12, 2019 and quickly became not only a starter alongside a finally healthy Lamine Sané, but also a fan favorite with his blue collar work ethic. He continued his strong play when paired with Antonio Carlos in 2020 and Orlando City rewarded him with a new contract this past Jan. 13 which could keep him in purple through the 2024 season.

Let’s take a look at how the Viking’s 2021 season went.

Statistical Breakdown

Jansson started the season with a knock but still managed 28 appearances to equal his 2019 total, which is his career high as a Lion. He started 26 times, which was two shy of his Orlando City career high, playing 2,424 minutes during the regular season. That was the most minutes he’s played in a season since joining Orlando. Better known for his defense, Jansson became downright offensive in 2021, notching his first three MLS regular-season goals and his first MLS assist. He set new career highs in shot attempts (14) and shots on target (4), and some of those misses were agonizingly close to being golazos on set pieces.

He continued his excellent passing, connecting at an 88.1% rate, just incrementally below his career best of 88.8% last year. The 30-year-old contributed four key passes and two successful crosses.

Defensively, Jansson finished the season with 31 tackles (1.1 per game), 42 interceptions (1.4 per game), 92 clearances (3.3 per game), and 23 blocks (0.8 per game). He nearly tripled his tackles, more than doubled his interceptions, nearly equaled his 97 clearances, and blocked a few more shots than in 2020, although all of that occurred in 464 more minutes.

Jansson committed a career-high 20 fouls and suffered nine. He received six bookings — all of the yellow card variety.

The Trollhattan, Sweden native also started and played all 90 minutes in Orlando City’s playoff match at Nashville, providing three clearances but he did not record a tackle, an interception, or a block. He didn’t score or provide an assist, passing at an 89.1% rate without a key pass but with five successful long balls. He didn’t attempt a shot, committed three fouls and suffered one but was not booked.

He also played all 90 minutes in Orlando’s Leagues Cup match against Santos Laguna. He contributed no goals, assists, or shots in the match, finishing with one tackle and winning 75% of his duels. He didn’t commit a foul while being fouled twice.

Best Game

It’s not easy to pick a best game for Jansson, as he was Orlando’s best player in a number of games this season. He was selected by either myself or my co-host Dave Rohe on The Mane Land PawedCast as Man of the Match for Orlando City seven times this season and three times we picked him unanimously. His best defensive performance was probably the 2-0 Decision Day win against CF Montreal but for his best all-around match I’ll say his best outing came on Oct. 2 in a 2-1 home victory over D.C. United.

After Orlando City fell behind in the sixth minute on a Julian Gressel goal, Jansson brought Orlando City level in the 17th minute. A Mauricio Pereyra corner found Junior Urso’s head and the midfielder forced a good diving save from Bill Hamid. Jansson was lurking at the back post and smashed his second goal of the season into the roof of the netting to make it 1-1.

It was Jansson’s only shot attempt of the match but he made it count. He also contributed three interceptions and a blocked shot on the defensive end. He was 87.3% accurate on 55 total passing attempts and completed five successful long balls in the match. He won one aerial and committed one foul while drawing one from the opposition.

Our Marcus Mitchell named him Man of the Match with a 7.5 rating for the game.

2021 Final Grade

Jansson’s outstanding season earned him a final composite grade of 7.5 out of 10 from The Mane Land staff. It continued the Swede’s upward trajectory since his arrival, as we gave him a 6.5 in 2019 and handed out a score of 7 after the 2020 season. Jansson doesn’t do many flashy things, and there are times he can get beaten in the air, but he’s a solid, dependable center back who generally gets the job done. He’s prevented a number of dangerous transition opportunities with a timely last-ditch slide tackle without giving up penalties and free kicks. He’s also good with the ball at his feet and showed more courage and confidence in getting forward into the attack to use his skills on the attacking end more in 2021.

2022 Outlook

As mentioned in the opening paragraph above, Jansson is still under a guaranteed contract for 2022 and will be the expected starter at left center back next season. Each year he’s improved over the one before and if he continues to be paired with Antonio Carlos regularly, that duo will only become more and more cohesive. They’re already one of the better — and more underrated — center back pairings in MLS, and at least the former of those traits should continue in 2022. Maybe the rest of the league will catch on to how good they’ve been and they’ll start getting the recognition they deserve.


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