MLS preview: Battle for “New York,” Crew SC vs. Sounders highlight Week 10

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Week 10 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us, and not only does the weekend’s slate of games feature a handful of scintillating mid-season matchups (yes, we can officially call it “mid-season”), but also an historic rivalry showdown on which the league has staked its very reputation.

Predictions record through Week 9: 16-20

Not since Chivas USA (remember them?) and the LA Galaxy faced off in their final SuperClasico last year have two teams from the “same” city faced off in MLS competition. It’s the New York team without a home, versus the New York team that doesn’t actually play in New York.

New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)

2015 marks the first time two MLS teams have called “New York” home, and Sunday night will mark the first time those two “New York” teams face one another. The Red Bulls and NYCFC couldn’t be headed in more different directions as they prepare for the first-ever [insert your own rivalry name here].

While Bradley Wright-Phillips has struggled, at least initially, to replicate last year’s 27-goal form — who wouldn’t without the service of Thierry Henry? — but the Red Bulls’ spine and defense are vastly stronger with the addition of midfielder Sacha Kljestan and the maturation of 19-year-old center back Matt Miazga, and they’ll likely put a stranglehold on an NYCFC side experiencing serious growing pains in Year 1.

Prediction: Red Bulls 2-0 NYCFC

Columbus Crew SC vs. Seattle Sounders (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS Live)

While Crew SC vs. Sounders doesn’t offer the same kind of marquee headlines, but it’s infinitely more likely to provide a sneak peek at this year’s MLS Cup final. Crew SC suffered their first major letdown of the season last week, which offers Gregg Berhalter’s side the perfect chance to bounce back and make a statement against arguably the league’s most talented team.

Meanwhile, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins hit full-stride for the first time last week, torching NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. How Tony Tchani and Mohammed Saeid manage to slow down the Sounders’ dynamic duo will go a long toward determining whether Crew SC bounce right back or remain mired in an early-season hiccup.

Prediction: Crew SC 2-2 Sounders

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FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Live)

As if FC Dallas, current Western Conference leaders, needed anymore of a leg up on the competition, Oscar Pareja’s side gets to host the defending champs, still very much trying to find their way, on three days’ rest following the Galaxy’s 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake Wednesday.

Fabian Castillo looks like the early favorite to win the 2015 MVP award, while the Galaxy are sorely missing the league’s 2014 MVP, Robbie Keane, who’s missed the teams’ last five games with a groin strain. Just like with Manchester United, enjoy kicking the Galaxy while they’re down because there’s signs of them slowly but surely turning it around and they won’t be down for long.

Prediction: FCD 3-1 Galaxy

D.C. United vs. Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS Live)

With the return of Fabian Espindola (six-game suspension to start the season), D.C. United might just be the team in the league with the most “staying power,” though so much of that relies on Espindola’s health and availability.

What makes this game particularly enticing is the fact that Sporting KC are actually a better team away from home, when their opponents are willing to play attacking soccer. United won’t sit back, not even against Sporting’s high pressure, and they’ll happily trade chances in their half in order to unleash Espindola and Chris Rolfe the other way.

Prediction: D.C. United 1-0 Sporting KC