Middlesbrough loanee Seb Hines is in line to make his second MLS start when his Orlando City SC side visit the Owen Coyle-managed Houston Dynamo on Friday night, where he’ll be tasked with stopping an opponent he is more than familiar with in Giles Barnes.
The pair are former teammates with England Under-19s and, having remained close friends since, Hines even turned to Barnes for advice before completing his move to Orlando on a six-month loan deal last month.
“Giles was a great influence on me coming over here,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I asked him about what the league was like and he was all for it. Now he’s the player I have to watch out for this week.
“I am well aware of what he can do, and he will definitely be one we need to keep an eye on. It will be a tough task for us, especially away from home, but they will be keeping an eye on us as well. It will be fun.”
Hines, 26, made his Orlando debut in their first-ever MLS fixture against fellow expansion side New York City FC last weekend, when the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in front of a 62,000 crowd at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
The home side needed a last-gasp Kaka free-kick to earn them a share of the points, having gone a man down when the Boro defender’s centre-back partner Aurelien Collin was sent off, meaning another late preseason signing will have to be drafted in the start at Houston.
That happens to be another of Hines’ former teammates, Sean St Ledger, who spent a brief period on loan at the Riverside in 2009, but head coach Adrian Heath has few concerns about his readiness for the occasion.
“These are two guys who have been around and know what the game is about,” he insisted. “Sean is an experienced Irish international and Seb has had his share of games. I wouldn’t have too many worries putting them together.”
Nevertheless, the pair will face a tough task in stopping Barnes on the night, after the ex-Derby County product underlined his attacking threat last Saturday with the lone goal in Hosuton’s 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew.
After ending 2014 on a tear, the forward is on a run of seven goals in his last 10 Houston games, suggesting Orlando’s makeshift defence will have a long night in store.