PORTLAND, Ore. -- Another MLS season is upon us starting this weekend, and I've been working the phones and the pressing the flesh to get ready for the 2012 campaign. Come back on Friday for my interviews with all 10 MLS East coaches, a companion to my interviews with all nine MLS West coaches. But for now let's look into the crystal ball for my predictions on MLS '12:
Los Angeles. Arena has built a fearsome outfit out West, one that can sustain success over the long haul. The Galaxy isn't always pretty, but L.A. is ruthless.
Salt Lake. The playoffs are more of a crapshoot than the regular season, and the switch to a two-game conference final will give Salt Lake a better chance to dethrone L.A. in a short time-frame scenario.
Landon Donovan, Los Angeles. He may be 30 now, but Donovan is primed for a season setting up the Galaxy's other stars, and it helps him to have so few MLS games on international dates this year. Other top candidates: Javier Morales, Salt Lake; Robbie Keane, Los Angeles; Fredy Montero, Seattle; Thierry Henry, New York.
Thierry Henry, New York. The man still knows how to score. Don't see that changing this season. Other top candidates: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose; Robbie Keane, Los Angeles; Fredy Montero, Seattle; Kris Boyd, Portland; Dwayne De Rosario, D.C. United.
Luis Silva, Toronto. So much about putting yourself in contention for Rookie of the Year is finding a situation where you can start and have an impact. Silva appears to have found a good spot in Toronto to do both. Other top candidates: Kelyn Rowe, New England; Andrew Wenger, Montreal; Darren Mattocks, Vancouver; Tony Cascio, Colorado.
Nat Borchers, Salt Lake. With defending DoY Omar González out for much of the season, longtime RSL stalwart Borchers goes to the top of the list.
Frank Yallop, San Jose. This is the year people will remember that Yallop is a two-time MLS Cup-winning coach. His smart offseason moves will pay off.
My pick: Kansas City. I know K.C. is the favorite to win the East, but I think the gap between this team and the top teams in the West is smaller than people think. When I say "dark horse," I mean dark horse to win the MLS Cup final.