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MLS playoffs schedule: when do the Conference semi-finals start?

After a two-week break for international fixtures, the MLS Cup Playoffs return this weekend with four thrilling match-ups.

Playoffs resume for Conference semi-finals
Joseph MaioranaUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The MLS post-season returns this weekend for the Conference semi-finals, bringing together eight teams with genuine ambitions to lift MLS Cup.

On Saturday 25 November the four Eastern Conference teams will face-off, with the Western Conference contingent playing on Sunday 26 November.

All four games look finely poised and promise enormous drama with each team’s playoff fates on the line. Unlike in the best-of-three Round One, every playoff game from now on is a single-legged elimination tie. If you lose, you go home.

Here are the eight teams still battling it out for MLS Cup glory...

MLS Cup Playoffs: Conference semi-finalists

Eastern Conference

  • Orlando City
  • Columbus Crew
  • FC Cincinnati
  • Philadelphia Union

Western Conference

  • Houston Dynamo 
  • Sporting Kansas City
  • Seattle Sounders
  • LAFC

Sporting Kansas City, who finished eighth in the West, are the lowest seed left in the competition. They needed victory over San Jose Earthquakes in the Wild Card game to make it to Round One. Supporters Shield winners FC Cincinnati swept through Round One, beating New York Red Bulls in two games.

When is Orlando City vs Columbus Crew?

Facundo Torres jugando para Orlando City.
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Facundo Torres has been one of the most exciting wide forwards in MLS this season.X @facutorresss

The first game of the semi-finals is at Exploria Stadium, where Orlando City are looking to continue their impressive recent form. Oscar Pareja’s side finished the regular season as Supporters’ Shield runners-up and are many people’s tip to win MLS Cup.

They take on an exciting Columbus side who have been this season’s MLS top scorers. They scored eight goals across three playoff games so far and, in Cucho Hernandez, can call upon one of the league’s most deadly finishers.

Saturday, 25 November - 17:30 (ET)

When is FC Cincinnati vs Philadelphia?

FC Cincinnati derrota a Sporting KC desde los penaltis en Leagues Cup 2023
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FC Cincinnati were the best team in the regular season and are looking to make history in the playoffs.Katie StratmanUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Next up is Supporters Shield winners Cincinnati, who defied pre-season predictions to lift the first piece of major silverware in club history. They boast likely MVP winner Luciano Acosta, as well as attacking talents Aaron Boupendza and Brandon Vazquez.

Cincy come up against a well-drilled and experienced Philadelphia side who were just seconds away from winning MLS Cup in 2022. They have struggled to recapture that form this season but head coach Jim Curtin is an experienced operator who knows how to get the best out of this squad.

Saturday, 25 November - 20:00 (ET)

When is Houston Dynamo vs Sporting KC?

Houston Dynamo lifted the Open Cup in September and have a core of experienced professionals.
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Houston Dynamo lifted the Open Cup in September and have a core of experienced professionals.Sam NavarroUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

After the Eastern Conference fixtures on Saturday, Sunday is the turn of the semi-finalists in the West. First up Houston Dynamo have a home tie against Sporting KC, a fixture that Sporting won 2-1 back in September.

Houston eased past Real Salt Lake in Round One and have showed real improvement during the course of the regular season. Sporting only made it through to the post-season through the Wild Card route, but they have been the surprise of the playoffs so far. The number eight seed cruised past Western Conference winners St. Louis City in Round One.

Sunday, 26 November - 19:00 (ET)

When is Seattle Sounders vs LAFC?

LAFC, la primera franquicia de MLS en ser valuada en 1 billón de dólares
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LAFC triumphed in the 2023 MLS Cup with a dramatical penalty shootout victory.KEVORK DJANSEZIANAFP

Rounding out the semi-final weekend is a fascinating game at Lumen Field, featuring two of the most successful teams of recent years. Seattle Sounders lifted MLS Cup in 2016 and 2019 and have the experience to go deep once again.

LAFC struggled for consistency in the regular season but the reigning MLS Cup champions have the fire-power to blow past any team in this competition. Denis Bouanga is back on form after a mid-season dip and the Steve Cherundolo’s team look devastating on the counter-attack. They have scored four or more goals in three of their last five matches.

Sunday, 26 November - 21:30 (ET)