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2022 Orlando City Season in Review: Antonio Carlos

The Brazilian center back had some injury issues that cost him some games after a brilliant start to his season.

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City signed Antonio Carlos on a one-year loan deal that included an option to buy at the end of the season back on Dec. 30, 2019. The Lions liked what they saw out of the Brazilian during the 2020 season and he was signed to a permanent three-year deal in December of that year after the season concluded. In his first two seasons in MLS, Carlos was a lock to be in the starting XI whenever healthy and that was again the case this year, as the defender had a brilliant start to the season on the pitch and looked like a lock for an MLS Best XI spot with his play early on.

Unfortunately, his 2022 season was interrupted due to a hamstring injury he sustained in a home loss to LAFC on April 2 when he was fouled from behind by Brian Rodriguez. The club announced five days later that Carlos’ injury did not require surgery, however, Orlando City stated his timeline for a return was from three to four months. He missed 10 games and returned on June 24, so he came back a bit quicker than expected. He played in one match before sitting out the next two and then he returned for the rest of the season, with the exception of the Decision Day match against Columbus, as he was suspended for that one.

When he returned from his knock, Carlos was a bit inconsistent at times, showing his quality but not quite reaching the pre-injury form he was in. Part of that can be attributed to getting back to full fitness and perhaps some lingering effects from the hamstring but also he lost his regular central defense partner for the season after just six more full games together.

Let’s look back at Carlos’ third season in purple.

Statistical Breakdown

Carlos played in the final three of Orlando City’s U.S. Open Cup matches, starting two of them and logging 223 minutes. He did not contribute a goal or an assist during normal play, however, he did score on his penalty in the shootout victory over Nashville SC following the teams’ 1-1 draw in the quarterfinals. Carlos attempted three shots — one in each match — but did not direct any on target. He completed 86% of his 138 passes, contributed one key pass on his one cross attempt, and launched 15 accurate long balls — including eight in the semifinal win over the New York Red Bulls and six in the final. Defensively, he contributed four interceptions and helped the team keep a clean sheet against the Sacramento Republic. He committed two fouls, suffered three, and picked up a booking in the final against Sacramento.

In the regular season, Carlos appeared in just 21 of Orlando City’s 34 matches (18 starts), logging 1,624 minutes — his lowest total of minutes played in a season since joining the Lions. He did not score a goal on his 14 shots, three of which he put on target to equal his career high set last year. However, he did contribute one assist on 87.2% passing and he finished with three key passes and 79 successful long balls. Defensively, Carlos contributed 22 tackles, 31 interceptions, 11 blocked shots, and 95 clearances. He committed 17 fouls, suffered 12, and earned six yellow cards, which led to a suspension in a must-win season finale for accumulation.

Carlos also started in Orlando’s lone playoff match in 2022, playing all 90 minutes. He did not score or assist on a goal, attempting one off-target shot in the match. His passing rate was just 77.8% in the game and he did not have a key pass, but he did have five successful long balls. He contributed three tackles, four interceptions, three blocks, and three clearances in the match. He committed two fouls without drawing one and was booked in the game.

Best Game

Carlos had a lot of standout games, but I’m going to go with his performance in Orlando City’s 1-0 win at the LA Galaxy on March 19. The Brazilian was a beast against the formidable Galaxy attack, posting two tackles, two blocks, one interception, and a season-high 14 clearances to help Pedro Gallese post a clean sheet on the road. In fact, Carlos and his teammates held the Galaxy to only three shots on target in the match. In addition to his stellar defensive effort, he registered a shot attempt (albeit off target) in the match, passed at an 89.3% accuracy rating, and was accurate on five of his eight long balls. He committed two fouls, drawing one and avoided a booking. His strong defensive play was one of the major reasons that Orlando won its first game in the state of California.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Carlos a solid composite rating of 7 out of 10 for his third season in Orlando. This is his lowest rating in his three years with the Lions after he received a 7.5 in 2020 and an 8 for 2021. I personally had him rated slightly higher than the staff average but not by much. Carlos started the season looking like he might turn in an MLS Defender of the Year type of season in 2022, but the injury he suffered against LAFC derailed that run of form. Late in the season, after partner Robin Jansson went down with a season-ending injury, it appeared that Carlos was trying to do too much at times when he was paired with Rodrigo Schlegel — or perhaps he was just fatigued from playing 90 minutes in 12 consecutive competitive games in all competitions from Aug. 31 onward — and it cost the team a couple of crucial goals against, but it was still a bright season overall for the Brazilian.

2023 Outlook

Carlos will turn 30 in March but is under contract for 2023 and the club holds an additional option for 2024. Despite his $900,000 base salary this past season, I expect he will be the starter whenever fit at right center back in 2023. Orlando’s starting central defense pairing, when healthy, is as solid as any in the league. While they may not chip in as many goal contributions as a few of the other marquee center backs in the league, Carlos and Jansson have great chemistry together and that’s critical for a back line.


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