Donald O’Mahony, Staff Writer

First Round:
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA:

This matchup includes the two teams that share the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. The star-studded Galaxy boasts players like Landon Donovan and David Beckham, along with many other players that have experience at the highest level. No team lost fewer games than the Galaxy this season and I expect them to advance.

Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders:
The Dynamo have won two of the last three championships and finished the season tied for the second-best record. Players like Brian Ching and Stuart Holden lead a very dangerous attack while goalkeeper Pat Onstad finished tied for second in the league with 10 shutouts. The expansion Sounders field a very similar team with players like Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg along with goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who had the second-lowest goals-against- average statistic in the league. I pick the Dynamo to go through based on their experience.

Columbus Crew vs. Real Salt Lake:
The Crew goes into the playoffs with the best record in the league this season. Guillermo Barros Schelotto won the MVP award last season and tied for third in the league in goals this year. Real Salt Lake barely got in after an exciting final week, but they are here with a chance and that is all they care about. This could be a shootout and I am going with the defending champs.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution:
The two teams met three times this season, tying twice and the Fire taking the third. For me, this is the best Fire team in years, going back to 1998 when they won the championship. Brian McBride and Cuauhtémoc Blanco lead a dangerous and experienced attack against the Revs and Shalrie Joseph, a versatile player that can change the game at any moment. The Fire have lost only once in their last five, so I pick them to go through.

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo:

This is the dream matchup from the western conference. These two tied once this season and the Galaxy won the other match 1-0. Big name players will make this an exciting series and it will come down to defending and goalkeeping. I believe Houston holds the edge in both departments so I pick them to advance to the final.

Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire:
This would come down to the strong, exciting attack of the Fire led by McBride, Blanco, and Chris Rolfe against the disciplined defense of Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk and the Crew. Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer was third in the league with a 0.95 goals against average while Chicago averaged 1.3 goals a game, third most of any team in the playoffs. In a league where defense rules, the Crew will go to the final.

Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo:

This match would be between the 2007 champions in Houston against the defending champs in the Crew. I would not be surprised if this went into overtime or even penalties. I’m going to go with Columbus to win, and that is just a gut feeling.