MLS Cup Playoffs Round One best players – ranked

The first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs is complete with the Conference Semi-Finals set.

As you might expect, there was plenty of drama in each and every game, and nobody made it through without a helping hand from one of their huge stars.

So, who has lit up the Playoffs so far? Here’s our top five players from Round One:

For FC Cincinnati to make it past the New York Red Bulls in their first-ever Playoffs match, you just knew Luciano Acosta would need to step up.

The Argentine did just that, netting a 74th-minute penalty to spark a 2-1 comeback win for the Orange and Blue.

In truth, Lucho had RBNY on strings throughout, completing two dribbles and creating a match-high four chances, while attempting three shots.

Can he do it again when Cincinnati face top seeds in the East Philadelphia Union?

When the LA Galaxy needed a goal to break down a stubborn Nashville SC side, who did they call?

Chicharito? Dejan Joveljic? Douglas Costa? Nope. As it turns out, right-back Julian Araujo was their guy.

The 21-year-old Mexican somehow found himself free to head home a Samuel Grandsir cross at the far post on the hour mark, sealing a 1-0 win at Dignity Health Sports Park.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg in an excellent performance from Araujo, who made three tackles, five clearances, seven recoveries, and was dribbled past just once.

Djordje Mihailovic might be Eredivisie bound, but he’s leaving his mark on the MLS Cup Playoffs before he goes.

The United States international notched both a goal and an assist to help CF Montreal overcome Orlando City 2-0, with his own strike coming from the penalty spot in the 98th minute.

Mihailovic has recorded a goal and an assist in a single MLS match four times for CF Montreal, with only Nacho Piatto (15) and Patrice Bernier (6) doing so on more occasions for the club.

To be honest, Mihailovic could’ve had more having created three chances overall. However, his pass to Ismael Kone for CFMTL’s opener was more than enough.

Like FC Cincinnati, Austin FC looked to an Argentine star to inspire them in their Playoffs debut.

Sebastian Driussi has been at the front of the Golden Boot and MVP races all season and showed why with a two-goal return in Austin’s comeback from 2-0 down against Real Salt Lake.

Driussi attempted a quite ridiculous 12 shots on the day and was the spearhead to Austin’s attack throughout.

Perhaps he should’ve scored more from his dozen attempts, but Driussi made up for his misses by getting Austin off and running in their shootout win that set up a Western Conference semi-final against Texas rivals FC Dallas.

Besides, we’d have let Driussi off anyway considering he had a third goal ruled out for offside.

The reigning champs are through and, as you might expect, veteran playmaker Maxi Moralez was their guiding hand.

Moralez, now 35 and enjoying his sixth consecutive Playoffs campaign, rolled back the years to help NYCFC crush Inter Miami.

It was his goal to make it 2-0 in the 69th minute that effectively finished the game, and what a goal it was, coming at the end of a 19-pass, 10-player team move. But that was just one contribution in a supreme attacking performance that saw him create no fewer than six chances.

Moralez put in the hard yards without the ball, too, with the diminutive playmaker notching three tackles, 10 recoveries, and one interception, while he even managed to win two of his three aerial duels despite standing at just 5ft 3.

CF Montreal will not be looking forward to dealing with Moralez in the next round.

Honorable mentions: Santiago Rodriguez, Alan Velasco, Ismael Kone, Sergio Cordova, Alvaro Barreal, Jonathan Bond, Brandon Vazquez, Brad Stuver.

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