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MLS Playoff bracket: When do the Conference Semi-finals start?

Houston Dynamo became the seventh team to book their place in the next round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, setting up a tie with holders LAFC.

When do the MLS Cup Semi-finals start?
Aaron DosterUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Round One of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Sunday with a winner-takes-all meeting between Columbus Crew and Atlanta United.

Over the past three weeks 18 teams have been whittled down to just seven, with the winner of Columbus and Atlanta competing the eight-team line up for the Conference Semi-finals.

Here are the seven teams that have booked their places so far...

  • FC Cincinnati (2-0 series win over RB New York)
  • Sporting Kansas City (2-0 series win over St. Louis City)
  • LAFC (2-0 series win over Vancouver Whitecaps)
  • Orlando City (2-0 series win over Nashville)
  • Philadelphia Union (2-0 series win over New England Revolution)
  • Seattle Sounders (2-1 series win over FC Dallas)
  • Houston Dynamo (2-1 series win over Real Salt Lake)

MLS Playoff fixtures

The eight teams that will progress from Round One will face off in four single-legged Conference semi-finals. Those games will be hosted by the higher seed, ranked by their regular season league finishes.

If a semi-final is level after 90 minutes the game will go to extra-time. If there is still nothing to choose between them after the additional 30 minutes, the tie will be decided by a penalty shootout.

Houston progress after dramatic shoot-out win
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We've already seen plenty of penalty shoot-out drama in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. Rob GrayUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

In the Western Conference Semi-finals Seattle Sounders will host MLS Cup holders LAFC, and Houston Dynamo will have home advantage against Sporting Kansas City.

In the East Supporters Shield winners FC Cincinnati will take on Philadelphia Union, while Orlando City will host the winner of Columbus and Atlanta.

The dates for the semi-final matchups have not yet been confirmed, but the will be played between 25 November and 3 December.

Who are the favourites for the MLS Cup?

During the regular season FC Cincinnati were the best team in MLS, but that record goes out of the window as we enter the single-game elimination phase of the post-season.

Cincinnati have a wealth of attacking talent with MVP candidate Luciano Acosta supplying Aaron Boupendza and Brandon Vazquez. However Cincy could have at the back after Matt Miazga was hit with a one-game suspension after receiving three bookings in Round One. They are also without defensive stalwart Nick Hagglund for the remainder of the year due to injury.

Reigning champions LAFC have struggled to find consistency in MLS this season, only managing to secure a third-placed finish in the West. But they remain one of the most dangerous counter-attacking teams in the league, spear-headed by an in-form Denis Bouanga.

Looking further afield, Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo have shown real growth during the regular season and have considerable experience in their ranks. Orlando City enjoyed a historic 2023 regular season to finish second in the Supporters’ Shield rankings and Oscar Pareja’s hard-working team have plenty of momentum heading in the semi-finals.