Joe Kepner of WFTV reported today via Twitter that Orlando City center back Antonio Carlos suffered a torn hamstring during the team’s 4-2 loss to LAFC Saturday night. The injury occurred early in the first half and, if the report is accurate, it could keep the Brazilian out of action for four to six months. However, it seems that the evaluation of the injury is still ongoing as of Sunday evening.
Officially, an #OrlandoCity spokesperson has said that evaluations for Antonio Carlos' injury haven’t finished and he still has further evaluations to come.— Austin David (@AustinDavid22) April 3, 2022
The injury occurred 15 minutes into the game when Brian Rodriguez ran into the Lions’ defender from behind. Carlos planted awkwardly, went down, and rolled back and forth in visible pain as teammates came to his aid and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese motioned to the sideline for the trainers to come on. After receiving attention from the Orlando City training staff, Carlos was substituted for Rodrigo Schlegel.
Carlos initially joined Orlando City in 2020 on loan from Brazilian side Palmeiras. He became the starter alongside Robin Jansson, with the two becoming one of the best center back pairings in the league. Following the 2020 MLS season, the club signed the 29-year-old defender to a three-year contract with an option for a third season. That has Carlos potentially remaining with the team through the 2024 season.
Carlos missed the preseason with visa issues, but played as if it wasn’t necessary. He started all of the first six matches, logging 468 minutes. Across those games, he passed at an 87.7% success rate and took four shots with one on target. Defensively, he made six tackles, eight interceptions, 38 clearances, and four blocks, while helping the Lions keep three clean sheets. He committed seven fouls, and suffered five.
What This Means for Orlando
While losing Carlos will hurt the team, Schlegel and Jansson have played together this year and in the past. Schlegel also started multiple preseason games alongside Jansson this spring. Additionally, 17-year-old Homegrown Player Thomas Williams saw significant minutes with the team during the preseason.
The injury puts the Lions in a tough situation, as they only had three experienced center backs on the roster entering this season. With Carlos out for the majority of the season, the team will rely on Jansson and Schlegel as starters and Williams will be the first center back off the bench.
While Carlos is a better center back than Schlegel, the latter has played enough with Jansson that the two are comfortable together. However, Head Coach Oscar Pareja likes switching to a back five late in games when his team has a lead, so Williams may have to enter games in those situations.
After Williams, things are thinner than Pareja would like. In a “break glass in case of emergency” situation, Kyle Smith or (currently injured) Michael Halliday could be pressed into service in the center, but neither are actual center backs. Orlando may look to add another defender during the summer window or find someone who is currently out of contract.
The Mane Land will continue to monitor this story and update our readers when possible.