The MLS Playoffs have certainly had some entertaining surprises thus far, and there is still plenty of soccer to be played. The Knockout Round kicked off a couple weeks back with seeds 3 through 6 battling it out in a single match to decide who advances to the Conference Semifinals. The East saw a couple upsets, while the West played out as expected. On Sunday, the semifinals wrapped up in exciting fashion, setting us up for a thrilling MLS Conference Championship round. Let’s take a look at how the playoffs have played out so far.
In the Western Conference, the 3-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps took on the 6-seeded San Jose Earthquakes on October 25. It wasn’t much of a matchup though, as the Whitecaps dominated San Jose by a score of 5-0. Earlier that night, the 6-seeded New York Red Bulls brought their A-game to upset the 3-seeded Chicago Fire 4-0. The other Eastern Conference matchup featured another upset, but this time it was much closer, as the 5-seeded Columbus Crew SC defeated the fan-favorite Atlanta United 3-1 in penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw. Finally, the 4-seeded Houston Dynamo took care of business with a 1-0 win over 5-seeded Sporting KC.
The semifinals consisted of a two-leg aggregate series, which allowed each team to host a playoff game. Columbus started off strong with a 4-1 blowout win over 2-seeded New York City FC, and although they lost 2-0 in the second leg, they were able to advance by an aggregate score of 4-3. The other East matchup was surprising close, as unanimous favorite and top-seeded Toronto FC defeated the Red Bulls 2-1 in the first leg but lost 1-0 in the second leg. With a tied aggregate score of 2-2, Toronto was able to squeak into the Conference Finals on an away goals tiebreaker. Both of the first legs in the Western Conference finished with a 0-0 draw, but the 2-seeded Seattle Sounders were able to take down their rival Vancouver 2-0 in the second leg to advance. On the other hand, the top-seeded Portland Timbers fell to the Dynamo 2-1, as Houston looks to continue what the Astros started when they won the World Series last week.
The Conference Finals features two Cinderella stories and two perennial powerhouses. The Western Conference Finals sees Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders taking on the Houston Dynamo. The first leg will take place in Houston on November 21, and the second leg will be in Seattle on November 30. As for the Eastern Conference Finals, Toronto FC will look to slow down Columbus Crew SC, who is coming off two upset wins as the 5-seed. The first leg will be in Columbus on November 21, and the second leg will take place in Toronto on November 29.