2022 Roster Preview | The Defenders


As Orlando City prepares to launch its third Major League Soccer regular season under Head Coach Oscar Pareja, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at the 2022 Lions to give you a full roster breakdown leading up to Orlando’s home opener, presented by Orlando Health, against CF Montréal at Exploria Stadium on Sunday, February 27 at 1 p.m. 

Yesterday, we took a look at Orlando City’s goalkeeping situation for this season. Today, we’ll be going through the Lions’ defenders, another unit returning almost all of its key pieces from last season.

The Lions are loaded at center back, with Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Rodrigo Schlegel representing one of the league’s top CB trios. With Schlegel signing a new contract this offseason, Orlando City controls the rights to all three players through at least the 2024 season. 

Jansson in particular has a chance to make some history this year. The Viking is entering his fourth season in purple and should set the Club’s all-time minutes played record, currently held by Joe Bendik, within the season’s first few weeks. He also needs 36 appearances to match Chris Mueller’s Club-record 126 in all competitions, an attainable goal if he remains healthy and the Lions make a run in either the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup or the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

At full back, Orlando returns João Moutinho, Ruan, and Kyle Smith, who made up the bulk of last season’s minutes on the flanks. Ruan remains one of MLS’ very fastest players, recording the second-highest sprint speed in the entire league last season. Both he and Smith notched their first goals in purple last year. Mid-season signing Emmanuel Mas departed for Estudiantes in his native Argentina.

A trio of Homegrowns rounds out the defensive unit. Right back Mikey Halliday saw his first action for the Club last season, playing 383 minutes across six appearances. Both he and center back Thomas Williams, the club’s youngest-ever signing when he inked a Homegrown deal last summer, were called into the United States Men’s National Team U20 training camp this past month. The two are joined by new signing Alex Freeman, an athletic 17 year-old wingback who racked up eight goals and 15 assists for the MLS Next Cup champion Orlando City U17s last year.