As sources confirmed to The Mane Land on Dec. 17, Orlando City SC has made a move to strengthen the team’s back line ahead of the 2020 Major League Soccer season. The club made the official announcement today that Brazilian center back Antônio Carlos from Palmeiras was signed to a one-year loan deal with an option to buy at the end of 2020. Brazilian website Globoesporte.com first reported that the Lions were nearing a deal with Carlos.
“We are thrilled to welcome Antônio Carlos to Orlando City,” said Orlando City EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi in a club press release. “He is an experienced center back, having played many seasons in Brazil’s top flight, that brings both speed and a great ability in the air to our back line. We are very happy to make this move ahead of the new year and are excited to see all that Antônio Carlos will accomplish in 2020.”
Carlos will either occupy a DP slot or, more likely, be a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) player. The club will have until the MLS Roster Compliance deadline to make that determination. That date is Feb. 28.
Regarded as a quick defender and a specialist in the air, Carlos is capable of pairing with Robin Jansson in Orlando’s starting central defense next season. He’ll have another Brazilian, right back Ruan, on the team’s back line with him.
Developed in the academies of Palmeiras’ main rival, Corinthians, Carlos has played with seven different Brazilian teams over the course of his career. He also featured for Avaí, Oeste, Flamengo, and Ponte Preta.
The 6-foot-3 center back had his best moments with Palmeiras in 2018, when he started in 26 of the Verdão’s 38 matches to help the club win the Brazilian championship. In that same season, he was selected for the São Paulo State Championship’s Best XI.
This past season, however, the defender lost ground in the team’s rotation and played in only nine Brazilian Championship matches and three Copa Libertadores games. As the club spent significant amounts of money on center backs recently, Carlos’ situation was unlikely to change and the move to MLS became more attractive to the center back.
What It Means for Orlando
With the departure of Lamine Sané, Orlando City’s best center back in 2019, the Lions had to find a replacement to start alongside Jansson. Carlos will be counted on to become that guy, and will be expected to claim the spot, given the fact that the Rio de Janeiro native will require an international slot. Transfermarkt estimated his value at 1.6 million Euros as of Nov. 27.
At 26, Carlos could be in Orlando for years if he adapts to the league and the culture. Being with Orlando City should make things easier, as the club has quite a few Brazilians in the organization and a Portuguese-speaking captain in Nani. Regardless, Orlando needed at least two center backs this off-season and Carlos, a quick, athletic defender who can get forward like Sané occasionally did, seems to fit the bill.
The Lions also added Rodrigo Schlegel this off-season, to add to Jansson, Alex De John, and Kamal Miller as the team’s center backs. Kyle Smith can also play center back if needed. It would seem likely that the club has completed filling in its needs in central defense, but that could obviously change if the right player came along at the right price.
Here’s a look at what Carlos can do: