Eighteen teams entered, eight remain.
Who stays on the path toward MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9 and who heads home? After getting seven of eight winners correct in the Round One Best-of-3 series, we've fired back up the predictions machine.
Remember: Conference Semifinals are single-elimination matches. Ties are settled via two 15-minute extra time periods, then a penalty kick shootout (if necessary).
EAST: Orlando (2) vs. Columbus (3)
Nov. 25, 5:30 pm ET
EAST: Cincinnati (1) vs. Philadelphia (4)
Nov. 25, 8 pm ET
WEST: Houston (4) vs. Kansas City (8)
Nov. 26, 7 pm ET
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WEST: Seattle (2) vs. LAFC (3)
Nov. 26, 9:30 pm ET
PREDICTION: Orlando win 3-2
A slugfest awaits at Exploria Stadium, just like when Orlando earned a 4-3 win over Columbus (courtesy of Ramiro Enrique's late brace) in mid-September. The Crew's DNA doesn't call for grind-it-out, defense-first results – head coach Wilfried Nancy has acknowledged as much. And Orlando, winners of six straight, can go blow-for-blow with any challenger.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati win 2-1
Which No. 10 has more magic in his boots – Luciano Acosta (Cincy) or Dániel Gazdag (Philly)? Which suspended defender will be missed more – Matt Miazga (Cincy) or Kai Wagner (Philly)? Who wins the in-game tactical battles between student (Pat Noonan) and teacher (Jim Curtin)?
There are dozens of ways to analyze this 2022 Conference Semifinal rematch, but my gut says the Supporters' Shield winners have a narrow advantage. TQL Stadium should be electric and Acosta, the 2023 Landon Donovan MLS MVP favorite, has a hand in both goals during a historic comeback. Yet again, the Orange & Blue find a way to battle adversity and advance.
PREDICTION: Kansas City win 4-3 in PKs
Sporting KC's Tim Melia is a perfect 7-for-7 in penalty kick shootouts during his professional career, instilling a fear factor in opponents and confidence in his teammates. That aura blossoms during a history-rich matchup, which sees the visitors advance from the spot after a 1-1 draw (Alan Pulido redemptive winner, anyone?).
That means heartbreak for Héctor Herrera-led Houston, who won the US Open Cup in late September and have enjoyed a faster-than-expected rebuild under head coach Ben Olsen. But there's something magical brewing in Peter Vermes' squad, which boasts the West's best record since May and pulled off the only Round One upset when downing No. 1 seed (and rival) St. Louis.
PREDICTION: Seattle win 2-1 (extra time)
If anyone can stop Dénis Bouanga right now, it's a league-best Sounders defense. Well, we should probably say "slow down" because the Golden Boot presented by Audi winner is in electric form, tallying 9g/1a in LAFC's last five games. And there's every reason to believe Yeimar, Jackson Ragen and Stefan Frei are up to to the task.