Robin Jansson is the anchor of Orlando City's backline. Rodrigo Schlegel is a reliable and beloved understudy. But for the Lions to realistically compete at the top of the league, they need a healthy Antonio Carlos.
Antonio Carlos is a defensive machine. He's positionally and tactically strong, but also able to make key defensive interventions. That blend of defensive playmaking and solidity has made him one of the best center backs in MLS.
While the Brazilian isn't as flashy or impressive a passer as Jansson, Antonio Carlos is technically sound and able to progress the ball effectively.
Really good teams need two good center backs to be at their best. The Philadelphia Union are a perfect example of this. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott are the best pairing in the league, and provide the perfect balance of skills to lockdown opposing attackers.
Schlegel is not a bad MLS player. He's arguably a pretty good player at this level. But he's not good enough to be a regular starter on a contending team. We saw that on display against the New York Red Bulls.
The Argentine defender was exposed a few times around the box, and a better finishing team would've punished those mistakes with goals. Schlegel's sloppy possession play also hampers Orlando's ability with the ball, especially against hard pressing teams like New York.
There was one chance early in the second chance that absolutely should've been a goal, and Schlegel just got cooked in the box. Antonio Carlos likely doesn't let that happen.
The Brazilian isn't a perfect defender either, but he's proven to be a more reliable presence in all areas of the game. He's battled injuries most of his Orlando City career, but when he and Jansson are both in form and fitness its a championship-caliber pairing.