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2018 MLS Cup Story draws nearer a conclusion with Conference Finals set

Wednesday 14th November 2018
Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls will contest the MLS Cup Conference Semifinals.
Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls will contest the MLS Cup Conference Semifinals.

Background image: Marc Barry Reid, CC-BY-2.0

While Real Madrid promoted their third B-team coach in as many years and Bayern Munich backed its struggling boss, while Manchester City proved it had more class on the pitch than Manchester United and a manager who would immediately correct a player who didn't understand that class meant behaviour as well as talent, Major League Soccer winnowed the MLS Cup hunt down to four teams.

The Eastern and Western Conference Finals play out following the international break, on 25 and 29th November. It's a bit odd to jump right into a crucial tie after players have been away, focus redirected to national team duties. The first legs in each contest have the potential to be ragged. This is MLS, however. Ragged and odd come with the territory.

At first, the conference finals may seem lopsided. The two top-ranked sides from the regular season meet in the East, third and eighth in the West. On the other hand, neither Eastern team has won an MLS Cup whereas both Western teams have. The New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United possess the talent to win on most days. Sporting Kansas City and Portland Timbers have the passion to claim a result in a one-off affair. 

Each side has a story to tell heading into the final push. Here they are.

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Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin authored the short story collection strange bOUnce. He appeared in several other blogs which no longer exist. Old, he likes to bring out defunct. If outdated sport and pop-cultural references intrude on his meanderings for It's Round and It's White, don't be alarmed. He's harmless.


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