Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Houston Dynamo
Venue: Camping World Stadium – Friday, July 8 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)
Match Odds: Orlando 4/5 – Draw 11/4 – Houston 100/30
Orlando were unbeaten in five before Monday night’s 4-0 defeat to FC Dallas. That was their worst result of the season and subsequently saw Adrian Heath relieved of his duties after eight years with the club.
Heath leaves The Lions in seventh, one place outside the playoffs, and so they need to start winning more regularly if they are to secure a top six finish in their second ever MLS campaign. Bobby Murphy will take control of the first-team until a new head coach is found.
Houston have also parted ways with their manager this season, but little has changed since as they are still rooted to the foot of the Western Conference. They did, however, end a five-game winless run with a dramatic late 1-0 win over Philadelphia last weekend.
Cristian Maidana’s 95th minute free-kick will have given the whole squad a huge boost and they will now look to win a second consecutive game for the first time this term.
The Dynamo are seven points outside the playoffs in the West, with the odds of securing a top six finish stacked against them. However, they will need to win games like this if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
This will be just the second ever meeting between these sides. Orlando claimed a 1-0 win in last year’s clash in Houston, with a Tyler Deric own goal proving to be the difference between the sides.
Orlando’s only injury concern is Pedro Ribeiro, who remains out following back surgery. Cyle Larin and Kaka were both substituted in the heavy defeat at Orlando on Monday but should both start again here. Brek Shea and Carlos Rivas are one booking away from suspension and need to watch their step.
Houston have one injury worry ahead of Friday’s game, with Rob Lovejoy a doubt. Giles Barnes shook off an ankle problem to play Philadelphia last week and should retain his place. Midfielder, Alex is one booking away from a suspension.
Orlando City’s last five: D/D/D/W/L
Houston Dynamo’s last five: D/D/D/L/W
Key Stat: Houston have not won in 17 away games in MLS, while Orlando are unbeaten at home in 15.
Key Player: Cyle Larin – Orlando’s leading striker has eight goals from 15 games this season and has four in his last four at home. He will expect to add to his tally against a Houston side that hasn’t kept a clean sheet away from home this season.
Orlando City 1-1 Houston Dynamo – Neither side enters Friday’s game in great form. Orlando are very difficult to beat at home, while Houston struggle on the road. A tight contest is expected, with both likely to find the net. Score draw.