With the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs looming, there's no doubt that we're in store for an exciting postseason with what seems to be one of the more competitive fields in recent playoff history. It all starts on Halloween night with the first of two matches of the knockout round to be played.
The new playoff format this year pits the fourth and fifth seeds of each conference against each other in a single-elimination game to determine who goes on to play in the Conference Semifinals.
In the Eastern Conference, we have the No. 5 Houston Dynamo traveling to the Windy City to face the No. 4 Chicago Fire on Oct. 31.
And in the Western Conference, the No. 4 Los Angeles Galaxy will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Nov. 1 to begin their title defense.
The great thing about the playoffs is that anything can happen. It's like a brand new season, and nothing matters except the match that's right in front of you.
Here's a breakdown of why each of the four knockout round teams can advance to the Conference Semifinals.