MLS - parity hilarity!

Stupid Rapids. If they hadn't gotten the winning goal, there would have been a four-way tie for first in the West, with Real Salt Lake, in sixth place, one game out of first. Yes, it's good for Colorado fans, but bad for comedy.

It looks as if Houston is the team most likely to pull away from the pack. Los Angeles and Chivas USA will have their momentum wrecked by X-Games road trips - and after that, CUSA has to deal with the Champions Cup. By that time most of their injured players should be uninjured...or transferred to Aston Villa. Dallas seems like they're in turmoil, and as far as the team actually in first place - well, for all I know I'm gonna be sitting around gaping at Fernando Clavijo's acceptance speech for Coach of the Year come November, but I'll believe it when I see it. Houston may start pulling away as early as this week - they have a trip to DC United, then home to Toronto. That's not a guaranteed six points, but four points will put them in the lead if the Rapids and Galaxy cooperate on an ugly draw.

No, I still don't know how CUSA beat the Crew, or with what. Maybe we're living out the Jorge Flores Story. Maybe the Crew are falling back down to Earth - but we won't know for sure until the Crew visit Kansas City, because San Jose's coming to Crew Stadium this week, and I don't think Columbus is in THAT much trouble.

There's only a little more separation in the East - it seems like the top four teams are pulling away a bit. But the East is deceptive. Because Chicago took another weekend off, they have two games in hand with New England, a game in hand on nearly everyone else. (So does New York, but New York looks pretty awful at this point, and games in hand don't matter if you suck.) It's tempting to write off Kansas City, but they haven't played a home game since Ron Newman was coach. They'll have a lot of work to do, but by the time they do come home in a couple of weeks, they'll have a chance to prove themselves against Columbus. Oh, right, DC United. They have the Dynamo visiting, and then go to Chicago. That's not a guaranteed zero points, but it might be enough to unseat the reigning Supporters Shield-winning coach, if the losses are embarrassing enough.

So does Chicago start pulling away? They might start this month, because they have a month full of Western Conference foes to feast on - DC United (I made them honorary Westerners a few weeks ago), Dallas, San Jose, and Chivas USA - before the big Independence Boxing Day showdown against Columbus. But New England's June schedule looks almost as easy - home to Dallas, away to Houston (that will be the tough one), home to New York, away to Salt Lake (unless RSL really are invincible at home), then home to Toronto.

If Chicago passes and puts space between them and New England, it probably doesn't happen until July, when New England has exactly ONE game - July 4th at the who-the-hell-knows-what-team-shows-up Galaxy. Lots of time to make up games in hand...but then, the Revolution effectively rest for an entire month. And their first game back in August? At home...to Chicago. The schedule-makers were devious this year.

Of course, by August, DC United might be riding a seven-game winning streak, and San Jose might be leading the West.