MLS: Interim coaches square off tonight

Following Adrian Heath’s departure this week, Orlando City’s MLS matchup with Houston tonight will be an intriguing one, with neither team having a full time head coach.

The showdown between Orlando City SC and the Houston Dynamo tonight got a little more interesting earlier this week, when OCSC parted ways with long time manager Adrian Heath. Not only was that decision a surprise in the MLS community, it also lines up a rare event in sports: a game where neither team has a full-time manager.

Orlando City has said current assistant Bobby Murphy, and USL affiliate OCB’s manager Anthony Pulis will take over for the time being. On the other sideline, it will be Wade Barrett. The former Dynamo captain has done a stellar job since stepping in for Owen Coyle, who departed for personal reasons, which ended up with him as the new skipper for Blackburn Rovers.

The Dynamo will be coming off their first win under Barrett, who has done his best to instill his hard-working, blue-collar approach to the Western Conference’s last place team. The Lions are coming off a 4-0 shellacking by the MLS best, FC Dallas, on the Fourth of July.

In addition to the coaching situations for both sides, both team’s have news for this match for one of their designated players. For Orlando City, Kaka will not be available, nursing a groin injury that saw him subbed off against FC Dallas. Erick Cubo Torres will be returning for Houston after spending the past three weeks away from the MLS training with the Mexican U-23 side, in preparation for this year’s Rio Olympics.

Both players will be crucial for their respective side’s coaching decision. Kaka is the leader of OCSC, and staying healthy to push the team into the Eastern Conference playoff picture will be crucial for the resume of the current interim coaches, or make the job more appealing to whomever the club target’s next. Cubo, so far, has been a big disappointment as a DP for Houston.

Rumors of poor fitness, not fitting Owen Coyle’s system, and zero goals in action for the Orange have led fans, and the front office alike to frustration. If Barrett is willing to give Torres some significant minutes, and gets a return on that investment, he will be more likely to be transitioned from interim to permanent head coach when the season ends.

As far as MLS Friday night action goes, tonight’s is a good one to tune into. Will the Orlando City interim duo get off on the right foot at home, or will Wade Barrett make it two straight wins for the Dynamo? Tune in to UniMas at 8pm EDT to find out.