Well, this is awkward.
On Wednesday, Orlando City (4-4-8, 20 points) cut ties with the only manager the club has ever known. You probably heard about that. But it doesn't mean that watching Saturday's match against the Houston Dynamo (4-8-5, 17 points) without seeing Adrian Heath on the sidelines is going to be any less weird.
Heath was one the club's founding fathers, and his dismissal either means that Orlando is relentlessly committed to winning or no longer in touch with the fans who have been with the Lions since the beginning. Whatever your take on the Heath firing, it's hard not to feel a little like Will Ferrell in Old School ahead of this weekend's match.
All the drama this week has disguised the fact that Orlando has a very winnable game on Friday, as they welcome a last-place Houston Dynamo club to Camping World Stadium. The Lions grabbed their first-ever victory in MLS over Houston last season and have a chance to get back over the playoff red line with three points on Friday.
Here's how it could all go down.
Starting XI and Lineup Predictions:
With interim manager Bobby Murphy handling the lineup card this week, projecting the lineup against Houston is pretty much a guessing game.
One big absence will be Kaká, as the Brazilian was ruled out with a calf injury. So that's fun.
While there's a possibility that Murphy deviates from Heath's preferred 4-2-3-1 lineup on Friday, let's assume that with fewer than 48 hours to prepare for Houston, the new guy keeps things pretty much the same. It wouldn't be surprising to see Júlio Baptista slot into the attacking midfield, with Kevin Molino dropping back into the CAM usually occupied by Kaká.
This is the kind of game where Orlando could have really used Adrian Winter, as the Swiss midfielder always seemed to provide offense when some of the big names were missing. That role may fall to Baptista, who has seemed capable of providing offense from the bench this season.
No changes for Houston after a win over Philadelphia last week, though this could be trap game for the Dynamo with a road game against Los Angeles next on the schedule.
Houston has just one win in their last five matches, though interim manager Wade Barrett's squad has been stingy on defense, allowing just 0.80 goals per game. Plenty of that has to do with goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who denied Kaká on this free kick the last time these clubs locked horns.
Player to Watch:
While Houston may be languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference, there are a couple big names here with ability to create problems for Orlando City.
USMNT stalwart DaMarcus Beasley is still holding things down at right back, after a lengthy club career with stops at PSV, Manchester City and Rangers. Beasley is the only American male to appear in four World Cups and was recently named the club's captain under interim manager Barrett. The 34-year-old Beasley has led a back line that's been solid this season
The issue has been scoring goals.
One-club man Will Bruin hasn't done much to end the Dynamo's scoring drought, finding the back in just three games this season (including an impressive brace against the Red Bulls back in March). More will be expected of him as the sole striker and focal point of Houston's offensive game plan.
Prediction: Houston Dynamo 3, Orlando City 1
No coach. No captain. No points for Orlando City.
One of the weird things about Heath's firing is that it came right before a very winnable game, but it seems clear that nothing Orlando did against Houston would have been enough to #SaveInchy. Even with Kaká, getting a win in this one would have been a tall order after the last 48 hours.
So I think the Lions get stomped again.
Either that, or a pissed off Orlando City squad is going to go scorched Earth on the Dynamo. Let's hope for the second scenario.