SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City centerback Robin Jansson – a late addition to the Lions’ 2019 roster overhaul – has started every match he’s been available for since arriving in Orlando.
He missed the team’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Impact while waiting for his visa paperwork to get finalized, but since that process wrapped up before Orlando City’s 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, he hasn’t been subbed off.
The Lions (3-3-2, 11 points) have won three of the five matches Jansson has played and kept two clean sheets over that span. There are still defensive issues the Lions need to clean up, but Jansson said the team’s confidence is high after keeping a clean sheet against the Vancouver Whitecaps in its last match.
“I think if you look back in the last game and the New York game, I think we worked in the defense as a team,” he said, “because the defense starts higher up in the field and the whole team defends. So I think those parts have been good and I think we need to do that all the time to control our defensive way of playing and then we attack from the defensive part. Because if you have a strong defense you will have good attacking as well.”
Jansson said he’s adjusting well off the pitch, too.
“I think everybody has been kind and all this stuff,” Jansson said. “We’ve been out to get some coffee and stuff like that. Getting to know the [a] little bit of the area and that’s great. It’s always nice to have good teammates to hang out with. That’s good.”
Orlando City travels to Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC on Saturday. NYCFC (2-1-5, 11 points) has won its last two matches after starting the season winless through six matches.
Overall, Orlando City’s defensive efforts so far this season have been inconsistent. The team was stout against the Whitecaps and the Red Bulls but has given up goals early in matches that coach James O’Connor has called “cheap” and “birthday presents.”
Those goals have left the Lions chasing matches more often than not this season. Orlando City has scored first three times in eight matches so far this season.
“I didn’t feel that we were chasing something [against Vancouver],” Jansson said. “We were still disciplined, and we kept working and not chasing it. In the end, the goal came, and as long as you keep a clean sheet and you get one goal, then you have three points.”
Jansson’s reference to team defending is close to what O’Connor has emphasized this season. When the team has given up goals, he’s said there have, at times, been breakdowns higher up the pitch.
“I think again, transition, if you’re a midfield player, transition becomes really important,” O’Connor said. “You know, can you break lines? Can you play forward quickly and then when you’re defending, can you get back into a good defensive shape? I think that’s probably the biggest thing as a midfielder.
“I think the awareness piece, the switching of play, I think are all factors that, you know, any midfielder will sort of have grown up with.”
Defensive midfielder/centerback Carlos Ascues (hamstring) was present for Thursday’s training session and participated in warmups with the rest of the team.
Centerback Alex De John (hamstring) was training to the side on Thursday. De John and Ascues are questionable for Saturday’s match against NYCFC.