El Trafico - 2019 - playoffs - designed image

All but one of the home teams advanced from the first round of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, including the last three MLS champions, as the 2019 Conference Semifinals are set:

Eastern Conference Semifinals

No. 1 NYCFC vs. No. 4 Toronto FC
Wednesday, October 23 (7 pm ET on FS1, FOX Deportes, TSN, TVAS)

There is playoff history between NYCFC and Toronto FC but the memories aren't fond ones for the Cityzens.

In 2016, the Reds annihilated NYCFC 7-0 on aggregate over two legs with a 2-0 home win followed by a resounding 5-0 triumph at Yankee Stadium in the second leg. 

The all-time regular season numbers tip in favor of NYCFC at 4W-2L-5D with an undefeated 2W-0L-4D home record at Yankee Stadium. The Conference Semi, however, will be played at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. 

As for 2019, Toronto FC ripped NYCFC 4-0 at BMO Field back on March 29 in Alejandro Pozuelo's MLS debut and TFC were arguably the better team in the second meeting -- a 1-1 draw on September 11 at Yankee Stadium.

No. 2 Atlanta United vs. No. 3 Philadelphia Union
Thursday, October 24 (8 pm ET on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVAS)

Atlanta United's title defense will continue at home against the Philadelphia Union, who are experiencing the best season in club history coming off their first-ever playoff win against the New York Red Bulls. 

These two teams have never met in the postseason, but the regular season has seen Atlanta United enjoy a clear advantage: 3W-1L-2D all-time (2W-0L-1D at home against the Union). However, that first victory for the Union came in the most recent meeting between these two teams on August 31 in front of a passionate sellout crowd in Philly. Final result: 3-1.

Has the tide turned in this series? After giving up three goals in each of their first two trips to Atlanta -- 3-0 on Sept. 27, 2017 and 3-1 on June 2, 2018 -- the Union came away with a 1-1 draw on March 17, 2019 and they had a 1-0 lead into the second half.

Western Conference Semifinals

No. 2 Seattle Sounders vs. No. 3 Real Salt Lake
Wednesday, October 23 (10:00 pm ET on FS1, FOX Deportes, TSN, TVAS)

It's been several years since Seattle and RSL have met in the postseason. They went head-to-head in both 2011 and 2012 with RSL advancing in 2011 and the Sounders in 2012.

RSL have a winning all-time record against Seattle in the regular season (12W-10L-4D), though Seattle have won the bulk of the matches played at CenturyLink, site of Wednesday's Conference Semi (10W-3L-3D record in regular season and playoffs combined).

Real Salt Lake thumped Seattle 3-0 at the RioT in their last meeting on August 14 behind goals from Sam Johnson, Albert Rusnak and Corey Baird. Seattle won the match at CenturyLink this year 1-0 on April 6 with Nico Lodeiro finding the back of the net.

The last five meetings between the teams at CenturyLink have been one-goal affairs with RSL coming away with just one win in 2018 on a Bofo Saucedo golazo.

No. 1 LAFC vs. No. 5 LA Galaxy
Thursday, October 24 (10:30 pm ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVAS)

The LA Galaxy were the only away team to emerge from Round One of the postseason and their road exploits in Minnesota helped set up the first postseason edition of the LA derby matchup.

We all know the narrative of El Trafico to this point: LAFC have not been able to defeat their city rivals in the five regular season derby matches played thus far (0W-2L-3D). And the two matches at the Banc both ended in high-scoring draws.

The Galaxy are already stoking the flames of the rivalry. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has taken particular pleasure in scoring against LAFC, says that he believes the Supporters' Shield winners are afraid to face the Galaxy. "I think the history has shown that," said Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget.

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