For the first time, MLS will have a balanced 30-game regular-season schedule in which each team plays the 15 others home and away. Sounds like a good reason to go single-table and junk the playoffs altogether, right? But this is America, so postseason it is. MLS won't lose many players to the World Cup, and I think once again the balance of power will tilt toward the Western Conference. Schelotto has one more big season left in him in Columbus, which wants to redeem itself from last year's playoff fiasco. New England, Chicago and New York are all rebuilding, but I like what Steve Nicol, Carlos de los Cobos and Hans Backe bring to the table, respectively. In the West, I see Seattle, L.A. and Salt Lake pulling away, while Houston recovers from the losses of Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark to grit out the last playoff berth.
GK William Hesmer, Columbus
GK Kasey Keller, Seattle
GK Pat Onstad, Houston
GK Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles