2024 MLS NEXT Pro Matchweek 12 Honors

MW 12 Honors

Matchweek 12 of the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season was headlined by a super-sub performance from Sporting KC II's Sebastian Cruz, North Texas SC's resilient win over LAFC2, and Aron John's continued goal scoring excellence for Crown Legacy FC.

Here's a look at the top-performing player, team, and Rising Star of Matchweek 12:

MLS NEXT Pro Team of Matchweek 12: North Texas SC

North Texas SC

North Texas SC passed a tough test in defeating Los Angeles Football Club 2 4-0 on Sunday night. John Gall's team handed LAFC2 its second home loss of the season and even scored the opening goal when down a man because of an earlier red card.

Tarik Scott starred for North Texas, scoring two goals in the first half to raise his goal total to six in 2024. Diego Garcia made it 3-0 in the 67th minute, and Diego Pepi added the fourth goal in the 87th minute.

The win brings North Texas to the top of the Western Conference after Matchweek 12. Union II joins North Texas as the only two clubs with just one loss this season. North Texas' defense has allowed only eight goals, the fewest in the league.

MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 12: Sebastian Cruz (Sporting Kansas City II)

Sebastian Cruz

Sebastian Cruz changed the game when he stepped on the field as a substitute in the 31st minute during Sporting KC II's match at MNUFC2. He scored once just before halftime, and again in stoppage time to grab all three points.

To end the first half, Cruz finished off a cross from Maouloune Goumballe to level the match at 2-2. During stoppage time, Cruz sprinted to latch onto a pass from Pau Vidal and sent a powerful shot into the lower corner to hand Sporting KC II an implausible 4-3 victory.

Cruz kept SKC II operating at a high level, even after replacing Beto Avila, the team's second-highest scorer who added his sixth goal earlier in the match.

An academy graduate, Cruz has been in Sporting Kansas City's ranks since 2016. He signed an MLS NEXT Pro contract in March 2023. He impressed in three seasons with Cal State Fullerton and earned Sporting KC's Academy Player of the Year honor in 2018.

MLS NEXT Pro Rising Star of Matchweek 12: Aron John

Aron John - Crown Legacy

Crown Legacy FC's Aron John, a member of the Charlotte FC academy, is enjoying an outstanding 2024 season. Friday's game-winning goal was his third goal in his last four games.

His fourth goal of the year in Matchweek 12 propelled Crown Legacy FC to a third straight win. In stoppage time, John finished off a well-worked goal in which he found a clever pass from Cameron Duke at his feet in the middle of the box.

The game-winner lifted Crown Legacy FC into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The club has weathered an up-and-down start to the 2024 season, but thanks to John and other key players such as Duke, Nick Scardina, and Dylan Sing have found an ability to produce offensively in recent matches.

John is having a breakout season in 2024, racking up 600 minutes with four goals and two assists. He's already made more MLS NEXT Pro appearances this year than he did in 2023. John was named the Charlotte FC Academy's Player of the Year in 2023.