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MLS Cup Playoffs update: Conference Semifinal matchups set

The MLS Cup Playoff Semifinals are set after another enthralling few days in Round One of the MLS Cup.

Supporters' Shield winners FC Cincinnati, Philadelphia Union and Orlando SC have already sealed their Semifinal places in the East.

So have Los Angeles FC and Seattle Sounders, but Sporting Kansas City provided the shock result of the first round by beating Western Conference top seeds St. Louis City SC. 

Over the weekend, the Houston Dynamo beat Real Salt Lake on penalties after a 1-1 draw and Columbus beat Atlanta United 4-2 to advance to the conference semifinals.

Rusnak strikes again for Sounders

It was a tense affair at Lumen Field on Friday as Seattle edged FC Dallas 1-0 in the third and final instalment of their best-of-three, with Albert Rusnak scoring the only goal to send the Rave Green through.

The Slovakia international, who netted in his team's 2-0 win earlier in the series before they lost 3-1 in Texas, made the difference again as Seattle edged their best-of-three contest against the Toros.

They will now face defending champions Los Angeles FC, who are +300 to retain their crown. The Californians had life a bit easier than the Sounders as they saw off Vancouver Whitecaps 6-2 over two legs, winning both contests, with Denis Bouanga scoring three goals across the tie.

St Louis' conquerors Sporting Kansas City await the Houston Dynamo, who escaped with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Real Salt Lake.

The Dynamo won the original game 2-1 before crashing on penalties in Utah. After scoring the winner in Houston, Amine Bassi's missed effort from 12 yards cost his side in Sandy, but they made the most of home advantage in the decider.

Sporting might now be the team to avoid. They have the longest odds at +1400 to win MLS Cup but after beating San Jose Earthquakes in the Wild Card round, that win over St Louis sent shockwaves through the competition and KC has now won their last five matches.

Cincinnati looks strong in the East

Topping their Conference left Cincinnati in a strong position, and they have already booked their spot in the Conference Semifinals with two wins over Wildcard winners New York Red Bulls.

The second of those successes came by penalties but they still lead the MLS Cup Winners odds at +250 and will expect to overcome Philadelphia Union at TQL Stadium.

Philly had 14 points less in the Regular Season standings but looked decent in their own 2-0 series win over New England, beating the Revs 3-1 at home before edging the reverse at Foxborough 1-0.

Orlando showing Cup-winning credentials

Orlando were the second-ranked side in the East and have shown a sweet knack for grinding out wins in their two Cup games.

Wilder Cartagena's strike gave them a 1-0 home win over Nashville before Ivan Angulo's goal was all they needed in the return fixture at Geodis Park to seal a 2-0 series advantage.

Columbus Crew will be their Semifinal opponents after winning 4-2 against Atlanta United in Game 3 of their series.

International break provides timely hiatus

After a frantic start to the MLS Cup, there is now a chance to breathe following the games in Houston and Columbus, as the competition takes time off for the international break. USA meets Trinidad and Tobago in the Nations League Quarterfinals, while Canada has Jamaica.

The Semifinals take center stage on Saturday, November 25th and Sunday, November 26th.

It is then the Conference Finals on the first weekend of December before the MLS Cup is decided on December 9th.

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