Marquee Matchups: Something to Prove

Ecuadorians are the best. Sorry, if you disagree you're wrong. - Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Which big name team will be able to wedge themselves into the spotlight this week?

Want to know what might be interesting to watch on matchday 9 in MLS? Take a look the list below and take your pick.

Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls // Saturday 1:00pm CT, BMO Field, MLS Live

Toronto are the masters of the last second equalizer. Whether they're scoring them, or allowing them to be scored against them doesn't matter. If there is a dramatic, last second goal to be scored, Toronto will be involved in it somehow. Robert Earnshaw will be going against a very suspect New York defense. Earnshaw has been an excellent player for TFC so far, and he will be looking to finally help his side to earn the W that has eluded them in recent weeks. Having come off a Canadian Championship tie (one they succeeded in winning), Ryan Nelsen will have to tinker his lineup some to keep his boys fresh for the fight.

A discussion about New York wouldn't be complete without pointing out their shakiness in the back. Though the Red Bulls "limited" the Revs to a single goal last week, it's not as if the Revs are scoring at will across the league. Markus Holgersson and co. will need to step up their efforts against a determined Reds side that is desperate for a win. And while New York's defense has been far from impressive, they're only slightly worse than average in terms of goals conceded. The question for Mike Petke is whether or not that statistic will begin to worsen or not.

With Dax McCarty out with injury, the New York midfield will be even more devoid of creativity than usual. That leaves room for TFC's defense to focus on Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola.

Can Thierry Henry propel New York to victory at Toronto? Doubtful with McCarty out, but there will be goals.

1-1 Draw

Sporting Kansas City vs Portland Timbers // Saturday 7:30pm CT, Sporting Park, MLS Live

Sporting is still smarting from the spanking they received at the hands of the reigning champions. They were thoroughly outplayed in almost every facet of the game. Peter Vermes can rightfully complain about the handball by LA, but the fact remains LA was the better team on the day. They return home to lick their wounds and regroup for a visit from one of last season's the least convincing road teams outside of Houston.

Of course, Porterball is now in play in Portland and people are starting to wonder if this new strategy is a viable long term deal. Portland need to win a game on the road if their new found belief will lead to results outside of Jeld-Wen. If not, they might turn into another Dynamo, and no one wants that (least of all the EPA; there's enough pollution in America as it is without Houston spreading it).

Sporting KC will meet a team that places just as much emphasis on pressure and energy, so here's to hoping the match will be an exciting smashing of styles.

2-1 Sporting

Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy // Saturday 8:00pm CT, Rio Tinto Stadium, MLS Live

This week the RioT plays host to MLS champions and paragons of cap creativiity, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Tasty, sumptuous, mouth-watering are all terms that can be applied to this match if for no reason other than both teams have something to prove. The Galaxy are tired of all the love the best team in the league has been getting (that Frisco based outfit that people keep talking about) and are keen to remind everyone about the fourth star above their crest. They might have put in a convincing performance against Sporting, but a repeat win will need to happen to reinvigorate belief in the Galaxy.

RSL is sitting in third place in the West, and all talk of a "rebuilding season" has gone out the window. Jason Kreis manages to get the most out of his boys week in and week out, and while his PPG pace isn't incredible (1.38), it's still respectable enough that they can hold on to fourth if they keep playing at their current level. Can Joao Plata do something about the Galaxy's threat down the wings?

While the Galaxy fancy themselves the best team in the league, I think RSL eke out a win here, but only just barely.

2-1 RSL.

Food For Thought:

  1. Which is the match you're most excited to see, if any?
  2. Does RSL beat LA this week?
  3. Which team is ripe for an upset?
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