How do Orlando replace Antonio Carlos?
The injury to Antonio Carlos, reported to be a four to six month absence with a hamstring tear, is arguably the most devastating that could've happened to the Lions early in the season.
The big Brazilian center back is the heart. both literaly and figuratively, for Orlando's defense. His energy and heart provide the bedrock for Orlando's defense and he's an absolute monster in the box. Before the injury, Carlos was on pace to be a Best XI competitor this season.
Now, Orlando City is staring at a very thin center back room.
Robin Jansson is still a crucial and solid piece on the backline. The Swede is Orlando's all-time appearance leader and a stable, if unspectacular, presence. He'll continue to be a 6-7/10 every game he starts.
Next to him for the time being will be Rodrigo Schlegel. The Argentine center back is a cult hero and decent center back, but he's very inconsistent and risky. He goes for lots of challenges and duels, occasionally winning the ball back, but also occasionally leaving his defense exposed.
Outside of Jansson and Schlegel, Orlando has no center backs with professional experience. Thomas Williams is an extremely promising prospect, but the Titusville native is just 17 years old and has zero MLS appearances.
Fortunately for the Lions, Antonio Carlos is expected to return later this year, so the need for help in defense is not as grave, but for the next few months, Orlando needs some help in the back. Options are limited and nobody the Lions bring in can replicate the Brazilian star. What Orlando can get, and desparetly needs, is any kind of cover.
Orlando just needs a fourth center back with any kind of professional experience. Think somebody like Alex De John. He wasn't an elite defensive player by any stretch of the immagination, but as somebody who can play five to ten times a season?
The Lions will be seriously challenged over the next few months without their defensive anchor man, but with a strong team and an improving attack, Orlando just needs more depth to paper over the cracks until Antonio Carlos is ready to lead the backline again.