2024 MLS NEXT Pro Matchweek 1 Honors

MW 1 Honors

MLS NEXT Pro Matchweek 1 offered a first look at retooled rosters for the new season, plus plenty of debuts for new players and the beginning of new eras after coaching changes over the offseason. Tacoma Defiance, Los Angeles Football Club 2, and Ventura County FC showed out, earning various Matchweek 1 honors.

Here's a look at the top performing player, team and rising star of Matchweek 1.

MLS NEXT Pro Team of Matchweek 1: Tacoma Defiance

Tacoma D

An opening-night matchup with reigning champions Austin FC II may have seemed like an insurmountable challenge. However, Tacoma Defiance and new coach Herve Diese were up for the task. Diese won his first match at the helm, 3-1, with new signing Faysal Bettache scoring in his Defiance debut.

Both teams fought neck and neck until a red card gave Defiance a man advantage in the 64th minute. Stuart Hawkins opened scoring by heading in a rebounded shot that went off the crossbar in the 67th minute. Bettache connected with a cross at the top of the box to make it 2-0 in the 74th minute, and Gio Miglietti provided an exclamation point in stoppage time.

MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 1: Luis Müller (LAFC2)

Luis Muller

Luis Müller made his Los Angeles Football Club 2 debut one to remember, scoring two goals and adding an assist in a 4-1 win over MNUFC2. Müller scored his first goal with a deft touch past a defender to bring down a cross from Luca Bombino. Müller used another perfect first touch to score his second goal, bringing down a long ball forward from Shakir Nixon before finishing past the goalkeeper. The young forward provided a smart pass in the box to assist Matt Evans for LAFC2's fourth goal of the game.

Müller arrives to LAFC2 after an outstanding college career at Cal Baptist, where he scored 26 goals and had 19 assists across four seasons. Originally from Cottbus, Germany, Muller played in youth systems of FC Energie Cottbus, FC Koln and FC Viktoria Koln before moving stateside.

MLS NEXT Rising Star of Matchweek 1: Riley Dalgado (Ventura County FC)

Riley Dalgado

Ventura County FC made a strong statement during Matchweek 1 by earning a 2-1 victory over The Town FC in their inaugural match of the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Ventura County's defensive line showcased its prowess in front of the goal during the victory, with defender Riley Dalgado scoring in the first half and center back Axel Essengue knocking in the game-winning goal with a towering header in the 78th minute.

Dalgado's goal unfolded after a cross from Ruben Ramos Jr found Aaron Bibout in the box. The French forward teed up the ball for Dalgado to slot it home with a left-footed strike. 

The young defender’s goal earned him the MLS NEXT Rising Star award for Matchweek 1. 

Having previously been honored with the Rising Star award in 2023, Dalgado is poised for a great 2024 campaign for Ventura County FC before departing to join the University of Portland later this year.