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D.C. United 2018 season review: Jalen Robinson

Entering his fourth professional season in 2019, this center back is still waiting on his chance

MLS: D.C. United at Los Angeles Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Robinson began the 2018 season as the fourth center back on the depth chart. Behind Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, and Kofi Opare, odds looked long that Robinson would get much playing time throughout the year, and unfortunately for him that turned out to be the case.

After playing 543 minutes over seven appearances in 2017, Robinson’s minutes and appearances regressed to 349 minutes over five matches, which makes it difficult to gauge his performance in such limited action. Still, he led all DCU center backs in successful tackles per 90 minutes with 1.8, ahead of Brillant (1.3), Opare (0.8), and Birnbaum (0.7), but he was behind those three in interceptions, aerials won, and clearances.

Robinson’s performance wasn’t great compared to his teammates, but not much to worry about considering the minutes. That said, in his limited time his 2018 numbers in every category were worse than his rookie season numbers. That does happen to be worrisome.

With Kofi Opare not returning in 2019, Robinson, at least for the moment, appears to be the primary backup at center back. At 24 years of age, I think the team needs to give Robinson more minutes to see if he can really contribute for them down the road. It would be easy to understand of Robinson was frustrated by his lack of time, but for what it’s worth, the homegrown player at least publicly seems to really care about the club and its fans.

With the draft on the horizon, and what one assumes to be a number of player signings to come, what the team envisions for Robinson is sure to be shown in the moves that they make over the next couple of months. I think he can be a solid contributor to this team if he gets an actual run of minutes. It just remains to be seen whether we get to find out.


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