Orlando City announced that center back Antonio Carlos has officially suffered a right hamstring injury and is expected to miss 12 to 16 weeks, according to a release from the club. That timetable would see the former Palmeiras defender return to the team around mid July. Carlos will not require surgery as part of his recovery.
In many ways, this is good news for Orlando. Initial reports indicated that it might've been a full hamstring tear, which could've been a season-ending injury. We'll see how the recovery gets along, plus the club has a history of overly optimisitic injury reports, but having a Best XI center back available for the back half of the season is a huge sigh of relief.
For the next three to four months, the burden of defensive responsibility falls on Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel. Jansson has been as reliable a starter as anyone in MLS since arriving from AIK in 2019, but he's more of a No. 2 as opposed to a line-leading defender.
Schlegel is a cult hero for the 2020 Playoffs, but he's a decent center half as well. However, the former Racing Club youth academy graduate is as inconsistent as they come and capable of catastrophic mistakes.
Orlando will also have to rely on Homegrown defender Thomas Williams. The 17-year-old is one of the gems of Orlando's academy and among the highest thought of youth prospects in the system. In the offseason, he earned a call-up to the US U-20 squad, showing his promise natinoally in his age group. He's yet to play a minute of MLS action, but is now center back three on the depth chart.
At some point, we're also likely to see Kyle Smith and potentially Andres Perea fill in as emergency center backs, either in late-game situations or in a back three from the start. Both have seen limited action as defenders, and with the lack of proven depth, Oscar Pareja may have to call upon his Swiss Army knives over this stretch.