MLS Preview: Dynamo face Kansas City, Salt Lake battle Timbers
Houston Dynamo will be aiming for a third straight MLS Cup final when they face Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference finals.
Dominic Kinnear's men suffered heartbreak in the last two seasons as they lost out on both occasions to Los Angeles Galaxy, including last year's 3-1 defeat.
But two-time champions Dynamo head into their Eastern Conference showdown full of confidence after defeating New York Red Bulls 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-final.
The Red Bulls had been favourites to progress after topping the Eastern standings in the regular season, but they were toppled following a 2-1 loss on Wednesday, with Omar Cummings notching the winner for Dynamo in extra time.
They welcome Sporting Kansas to the BBVA Compass Stadium for the first leg on Saturday, after Peter Vermes' charges saw off the challenge of New England Revolution, also with a 4-3 aggregate success.
After losing the away leg 2-1, Sporting Kansas ensured extra time when Seth Sinovic struck with 11 minutes left of the clock.
Claudio Bieler then sent the Sporting Park fans into raptures when he netted the winner in extra time.
In the Western Conference final, Portland Timbers face-off against Real Salt Lake after they defeated rivals Seattle Sounders 5-3 over two legs, and in the process won their first MLS Cup play-off series.
The Timbers were favourites for the encounter having topped the conference in the regular season.
And they triumphed in both legs, including Thursday's 3-2 success at the Jeld-Wen Field.
The Timbers travel to Salt Lake for the first leg on Sunday.
Jason Kreis' charges - who won the MLS Cup in 2009 - head into the fixture full of confidence after ousting two-time defending champions La Galaxy.
A Sean Franklin strike ensured Galaxy would head into the second leg with a 1-0 advantage, but Salt Lake hit back to secure a 2-0 extra-time victory on home turf.