Riverhounds SC has signed defender Jalen Robinson to a contract for the remainder of the 2021 season with a club option for 2022. The deal is pending USL and USSF approval.
Robinson, 27, comes to the Hounds after spending six seasons under contract with MLS club D.C. United, where he began his pro career.
“Jalen is a player with versatility on the backline who is quick and comfortable on the ball,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said. “He also competes well in the air and will be a good addition to our current group of defenders for the 2021 USL season.”
A native of Catonsville, Md., Robinson rose through the D.C. United Academy before attending Wake Forest University. Robinson played two years for the Demon Deacons under current Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich, and he earned second-team All-ACC honors as a sophomore.
After his sophomore year at Wake Forest, he signed with D.C. United as a homegrown player before the 2014 season. He made his pro debut that season in USL while on loan to the Richmond Kickers, and later in the season made 19 appearances on loan to Arizona United.
Robinson also made his D.C. United debut as a rookie in a 1-0 loss in the fourth-round U.S. Open Cup against the Rochester Rhinos, then coached by Bob Lilley. The next year, Robinson got an Open Cup start at Highmark Stadium when D.C. United topped the Hounds, 3-1 in extra time, in the fourth round.
The former U.S. Under-18 international spent parts of 2015 and 2016 on loan to Richmond once again before appearing in his first MLS match June 19, 2016. He would appear in 26 MLS matches for D.C. before the team elected not to renew his contract after the 2019 season.
Takeways from Jalen Robinson Signing
With the addition of Robinson to the roster, the Hounds now have plenty of experience and depth along the back line. After things fell through with letting another experienced defender, Alex DeJohn, out of his contract in the offseason — the Hounds have found another MLS veteran to bolster the team’s back line depth.
A home-grown player for the United, Robinson had been given his share of opportunities to contribute to the Black and Red. Most of his time with the senior club, he spent as a back up on the team’s depth chart.
There was a stretch in 2017, when he sarted almost all of his games toward the end of the season, primarily playing with Kofi Opare while Steve Birnbaum was dealing with concussion issues. Thrown in near the end of a bad season, Robinson had good moments and shaky moments, but never looked lost and always looked like someone who just needs more time.
At age 27, and more than a year removed from his contract with the United, Robinson will likely be very motivated to flourish in a role in the USL Championship with a club and playing for a coach who has had a lot of success with assembling top level defending units.