10 Key MLS Matchups to Watch This Weekend
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Thierry Henry is out with a hamstring injury, but Major League Soccer moves on without him to the tune of nine games this weekend.
We've got a team captain returning to his old club, a youngster trying to replace a legend and Toronto just hoping to stop losing eventually.
Here are 10 key matchups to watch this weekend in MLS.
San Jose vs. a Loss of Momentum
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No team in the league is hotter than San Jose. The Earthquakes are undefeated in their last seven matches and their talismanic forward Chris Wondolowski just earned "Player of the Month" honors for April.
They lead the league in points and will want to keep the momentum going against Vancouver. But the Whitecaps have found their form recently with two wins in a row.
San Jose scores tons, but Vancouver's defense is among the stingiest in MLS. No matter what anyone tells you about Los Angeles vs. New York, this is the real game of the week.
Juan Agudelo vs. the Ghost of Thierry Henry
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Juan Agudelo will be back for New York Red Bulls on Saturday after finally recovering from the injury he picked up during Olympic qualifying.
The U.S. international could not have timed his return better since Thierry Henry's hamstring problem will allow him straight into the starting line-up against Los Angeles.
With Henry expected to miss several weeks, Agudelo has a window to prove himself worthy of a more consistent place on the field for Hans Backe.
Toronto vs. Historic Ineptitude
At the moment, Toronto is tied for the worst start ever in an MLS season. Their seven straight loses are matched only by the 1999 Kansas City Wizards.
So the Canadian side should be willing to do anything on Saturday against DC United to keep from taking sole possession of that dubious achievement.
Will they win? Probably not. But sometimes watching a team suck at historic levels is worth the price of admission.
Fredy Montero vs. Another Goal Drought
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Fredy Montero finally got on the scoring sheet for Seattle on Wednesday against Los Angeles.
It was the first goal of the season for the club's all-time leading scorer.
Seattle haven't done badly in the absence of Montero's finishing touch, but Sigi Schmid has to be hoping the Colombian notches a couple more quick ones to get his confidence moving.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. a Major Crisis
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Everyone in Los Angeles keeps talking about how early it is in the season.
Well, guess what? It ain't quite so stinking early anymore and someone finally said it.
Talking after their Wednesday loss to Seattle, Landon Donovan said, "We can't keep saying it's early. We've gotten better, there's no question, but we have to keep improving. While we're improving, we have to start getting points.”
Of course his manager, Bruce Arena, followed that statement by talking about there being a lot of games still left. So there's that. Hey, at least Landon tried.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles are sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference and showing no real signs of climbing out of the lower half.
Sporting Kansas City vs. a Potential Losing Streak
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Last time out, Sporting Kansas City suffered a 1-0 loss to Portland. It was the first time the SKC players had taken the field this season and not come away with the win.
C.J. Sapong and company will want to avoid their first loss of the season turning into a losing streak against Montreal on Saturday.
While we're talking about SKC forwards, has anyone seen Teal Bunbury do anything useful lately?
Jose Erick Correa vs. Expectations
Chivas USA will likely trot out their brand-spanking-new striker at some point on Friday night against the Chicago Fire.
But will Jose Erick Correa be able to single-handedly drag Chivas out of the bottom of the Western Conference?
The 19-year-old Colombian scored six goals in his final seven games in his country's domestic league.
Team officials have talked about patience. But with the entire Chivas squad only managing four goals so far this season, is there really any reason to wait before throwing the youngster into the Fire?
Davy Arnaud vs. His Old Team
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Davy Arnaud played more than 250 times for the club now known as Sporting Kansas City. He returns to the Midwest on Saturday as captain of the Montreal Impact.
For it to be a sweet homecoming, Arnaud will have to lead his expansion team to a victory against a team that's only lost once so far in 2012.
I'm not betting on him, but it would make a nice story.
Dwayne De Rosario vs. the Golden Boot
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Dwayne De Rosario was into his ninth game this season before he scored his first goal. This is the man who shared the MLS Golden Boot honors last year with Chris Wondolowski.
DeRo added another on Wednesday against San Jose to make it two goals in two games. But he's still eight behind Wondolowski for the scoring lead this year.
The Canadian has been playing well and DC are sitting second in the East, but if he gets serious about putting the ball in the back of the net, United could start chasing down Sporting Kansas City for the lead.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. New York Red Bulls
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In MLS commissioner Don Garber's fantasy world, Los Angeles and New York are the league's two best teams squaring off for the game of the season on Saturday.
In reality, Los Angeles sort of blows and New York went and got Thierry Henry (a.k.a the best player in the league) hurt before the showpiece match.
But at least we've still got David Beckham.
Make the commissioner happy and watch this one. The guy deserves a bit of joy from time to time.