2024 MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference Preview

Cup Preview

MLS NEXT Pro is back and gearing up for its third campaign with several new faces and franchises joining the league.

With two new teams joining the league in 2024, fans can expect this season to have plenty of drama, thrilling moments, and exciting storylines.

Let's look at how each team in the Western Conference is shaping up and what coaches and players will look to make history when they try to lay claim to the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro Cup.

Frontier Division:

Colorado Rapids 2

Head Coach: Erik Bushey

Venue: University of Denver. DICK’S Sporting Goods Park

Record last year: 23-5-4, 69 Points - 1st in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Uderitz, Diaz among key offseason acquisitions

Colorado Rapids 2 won’t have the services of 2023 Best XI players Remi Cabral and Yosuke Hanya this season, forcing others to step up in 2024.

Hal Uderitz and Alec Diaz headlined the ample signings made by Rapids 2, bringing MLS NEXT Pro experience to the squad. Uderitz was a standout defender over the last two seasons for Tacoma Defiance while Diaz featured for Toronto FC II.

Rapids 2 might struggle to replicate last season’s offensive firepower, but plenty of their squad returns for another go-around.

Austin FC II

Head Coach: Brett Uttley

Venue: Parmer Field

Record last year: 16-12-4, 48 points - 4th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Mazzaferro, Toure return as defensive leaders for 2024

Austin FC II posted one of the league’s best defensive units en route to MLS NEXT Pro Cup in 2023 and return several key starters for this upcoming season.

Sal Mazzaferro and Cheick Toure played ample minutes for Brett Uttley’s squad last season, totaling over 4,000 combined minutes in the ATX II backline. Mazzaferro led all Austin FC II outfield players in minutes played while Toure registered four assists from his fullback position.

If Austin FC II wants to remain as dominant on the defensive side of the field as they did last year, Mazzaferro and Toure will need to remain as impactful.

Sporting KC II

Head Coach: Benny Feilhaber 

Venue: Rock Chalk Park

Record last year: 17-11-4, 51 Points - 3rd in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Habibullah, Avila acquired to bolster attacking front

Sporting KC II made not one, but two key acquisitions this offseason to bolster their attacking front.

Kamron Habibullah and Beto Avila made the move from fellow Western Conference contenders in the new chapters of their careers. Habibullah and Avila have MLS NEXT Pro appearance under their belt and will now aim to form a strong partnership with Pau Vidal and Roberto Hategan.

This quartet has the potential to be the best in MLS NEXT Pro for 2024.

St. Louis CITY2

Head Coach: Bobby Murphy


Record last year: 16-12-5, 48 Points - 5th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Klein, Wentzel return as key leaders for CITY2

Bobby Murphy brought in several new faces for 2024, but also have several key starters also back from 2023.

John Klein led the team in goals last season (13) and is back to lead the attacking front once again. Defender Michael Wentzel logged just under 2,600 minutes of action in the backline and will be a top player to watch this season.

These two paired with arrivals such as Jayden Reid, Cam Cilley, and others, could make CITY2 a contender in the West.

Houston Dynamo 2

Head Coach: Kenny Bundy

Venue: SaberCats Stadium

Record last year: 15-13-3, 41 Points - 7th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Achara’s arrival, Gonzalez’s retainment vital for 2024

It wasn’t long ago when Ifunanyachi Achara was coming through the ranks at Toronto FC and now the young attacker has a great opportunity in front of him with Houston Dynamo 2. Achara could be the anchor for Dynamo Dos’ attack, along with Diego Gonzalez, who was re-signed this offseason.

Despite the loss of Papa Ndoye and Beto Avila this offseason, Kenny Bundy has two leading attacking players to carry the load this season. Expect there to be plenty of goals for Dynamo Dos in 2024.


Head Coach: TBD (Cameron Knowles is now an assistant coach with the Minnesota United first team)

Venue: National Sports Center

Record last year: 15-13-5, 45 points - 8th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Khan, Emmings, Smir headline familiar faces set for 2024 return

Having some familiarity in your squad is vital for every club and MNUFC2 certainly has some after several key roster re-signings.

Molik Khan, Fred Emmings, and Alec Smir all remained with MNUFC2 this winter, setting them up for key roles this season. Khan, a Trinidad & Tobago international, brings creativity and productivity to the attacking third.

Emmings and Smir will both jostle for minutes in between the posts.

All three will be important players for whoever steps in as MNUFC2's new head coach.

North Texas SC

Head Coach: John Gall

Venue: Choctaw Stadium

Record last year: 10-18-1, 30 points - 11th in Western Conference 

Notable Offseason News: International arrivals bring excitement to North Texas SC roster

North Texas SC made several roster moves this winter, with ample new faces coming from abroad. Nico Gordon, Victor Garub, and Pedrinho all made the move to MLS NEXT Pro, coming from different parts of the world. 

In addition to retaining several returning players from 2023, John Gall has a good mix of talent to rely on this season.

Pacific Division:

Tacoma Defiance

Head Coach: Herve Diese

Venue: Starfire Sports Complex

Record last year: 20-8-6, 60 points - 2nd in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Nine offseason signings highlight busy offseason for Defiance 

Tacoma Defiance were very busy during the 2023 offseason, making nine roster signings ahead of the new season.

Faysal Bettache, Owen O’Malley, and Snyder Brunell are just a handful of new faces in the squad for 2024. Bettache and O’Malley featured for St. Louis CITY2 in 2023 while Brunell comes up from the Seattle Sounders’ academy. 

Herve Diese takes over for Wade Webber and could bring a new sense of excitement in the squad as well.

The Town FC (Formerly Earthquakes II)

Head Coach: Daniel De Geer

Venue: Saint Mary’s Stadium

Record last year: 16-12-5, 48 Points - 6th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Earthquakes II now The Town FC, Blancas, Ochoa headline key returnees

In a historic announcement, the San Jose Earthquakes announced that the club’s MLS NEXT Pro team, Earthquakes II, will now play under the name The Town FC under a partnership with The Town Group beginning with the 2024 season.

The arrangement will see the Earthquakes continue to manage the technical direction of their MLS NEXT Pro team. This means familiar faces such as Eduardo Blancas and Emi Ochoa will likely headline The Town FC squad this season. Blancas was an important figure for Quakes II last year leading the team with 12 goals, while Ochoa won 11 of his 18 starts in 2023.

Although Roberto Hategan, Jerry Ayon, and key contributors others have left during the offseason, newcomers like Chance Cowell will have a chance to continue making a name for themselves at Saint Mary’s Stadium in 2024.

Whitecaps FC 2

Head Coach: Ricardo Clark

Venue: Swangard Stadium

Record last year: 11-17-3, 33 Points - 9th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: 2023 college standouts set for major involvement in squad

A trio of 2023 NCAA standouts will become the new faces for Whitecaps FC 2 in 2024.

Defender Buster Sjöberg, midfielder Eliot Goldthorp, and forward Nicolas Fleuriau Chateau are coming off stellar endings to their collegiate careers. Sjoberg lifted a National Championship at Syracuse while Goldthorp and Fleuriau Chateau both excelled Hofstra and St. John’s respectively. 

All three already have a leg up on the younger players in the squad and should bring immediate experience to the group.


Head Coach: TBD (Former Timbers2 head coach Shannon Murray is now an assistant coach with Portland Timbers)

Venue: Providence Park

Record last year: 11-17-0, 33 Points - 10th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Academy talents earning new opportunities with Timbers2

Adolfo Enriquez, Alex Moreno and Noah Santos will headline a youthful Timbers2 squad for the 2024 campaign. All three players signed multi-year contracts with the Western Conference club after featuring in MLS NEXT Pro last season.

Keesean Ferdinand is the defensive leader in the squad and returns after a strong 2023 campaign. Ferdinand logged over 2,300 minutes in Timbers2 backline and will be a key anchor to have for the season.

Real Monarchs

Head Coach: Mark Lowry

Venue: Zions Bank Stadium

Record last year: 10-18-2, 30 Points - 12th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Lowry takes over for Jamison Olave

A new face will be on the sidelines for Real Monarchs this season.

38-year-old Mark Lowry takes over for Jamison Olave this season following Olave’s promotion to the Real Salt Lake first team coaching staff. Lowry has managed in the USL Championship and NASL, coaching over 200 matches for several clubs (Indy Eleven, El Paso Locomotive, Jacksonville Armada).

After previously working with current RSL talent Diego Luna at El Paso, Lowry will now aim to groom the next crop of talent with Monarchs.

LA Galaxy II

Head Coach: Matt Taylor

Venue: Dignity Health Sports Park Track & Field Stadium

Record last year: 9-19-4, 27 points - 13th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Providing new opportunities to homegrown talent

LA Galaxy II have made several moves this offseason, but none might be more crucial than an early commitment to their youth. 

Ruben Ramos Jr and Harbor Miller are two academy players that signed homegrown contracts this offseason. Ramos scored two goals and added one assist for Galaxy II last season while Miller now makes the jump up from the academy squad. 

Both could play leading roles for Matt Taylor’s squad this season, especially with key 2023 players Alex Alcala and Brandon Tellez now gone.


Head Coach: Othoniel Gonzalez Junior

Venue: Titan Stadium

Record last year: 6-22-0, 18 points - 14th in Western Conference

Notable Offseason News: Plenty of youth standouts return for 2024

2023 was a tough season for LAFC2, but the positive news is a lot of their returning players have added experience under their belt.

Christopher Jaime, Adrian Wibowo, and Luca Bombino headline the returnees for LAFC2, who all will be aiming to play leading roles in Junior Gonzalez’s squad. Jaime led the team in minutes played (1,933) and also chipped in two goals and two assists.

He will be the go-to creator and facilitator for LAFC2 once again.