Tacoma Defiance earned the result of the weekend in MLS NEXT Pro action, rolling past St Louis CITY2 5-1 in Saturday’s top-two clash in the Western Conference. Rudi Castro not only helped Quakes II continue their impressive summer record, but the midfielder also scored the 600th goal of the MLS NEXT Pro season. TFC II joined the Defiance as the only two clubs to post an unbeaten record during the month of July after downing New England Revolution II on Sunday night.
Here’s your MLS NEXT Pro week 19 recap by the numbers.
Tacoma Defiance cap off unbeaten July schedule with latest win
The Defiance extended its lead at the top of the Western Conference after rolling past St Louis CITY2 in Saturday’s top-two clash.
Marlon Vargas scored the fourth-straight match for Wade Webber’s squad, taking his goal tally to 12 this season in a 5-1 victory. Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez netted two goals of his own while Abdoulaye Cissoko and Georgi Minoungou also found the back of the net.
The Defiance’s victory capped off a 4-0 month of July, outscoring their opponents 17-3 over those matches. Although Tacoma still has six matches left to go, it is four points clear at the top of the West standings.
TFC II’s unbeaten run surpasses two months with Sunday’s victory
Toronto FC II used a brace from Paul Rothrock to down New England Revolution II 2-0, extending its unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions, including seven league matches. Gianni Cimini’s squad has not suffered a defeat since May 27, moving up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
During TFC II’s unbeaten run, the Canadian club has posted four clean sheets, posted a 3-1 record in shootouts, and received goals from seven different players. Rothrock, Julian Altobelli, and Themi Antonoglou each have two goals apiece, showing that the depth in the TFC II squad can deliver big-time results.
TFC II still has eight matches remaining on its league schedule this year, but only two of those matches come against teams ahead of them in the standings.
Rudi Castro scores 600th MLS NEXT Pro goal of 2022
Quakes II continued their strong summer by picking up a sixth victory out of the past eight matches and Rudi Castro was at the forefront of the result.
Castro’s goal in the second half of Quakes II’s 3-1 win over Real Monarchs was the 600th goal of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. The attacking midfielder finished the match with a brace to help Quakes II earn a first home victory since June 8.
Earthquakes II are now 6-1-1 in their past eight matches, forcing their way into the playoff talks in the stacked Western Conference.
Aziel Jackson’s stellar 2022 continues as MNUFC2 wins
Aziel Jackson has been MNUFC2’s best player this season and that trend continued Sunday when he scored once and assisted once in a 3-1 victory over Timbers2.
The 22-year-old midfielder now has seven goals and six assists this season, which rank him among some of the best in MLS NEXT Pro overall. His seven goals are good for No. 12 in the league ranks while his six assists are tied for second-most.
Should Jackson continue to impress with MNUFC2, he might earn an opportunity in Adrian Heath’s squad with MLS Cup Playoffs coming for the Loons’ first team.
Inter Miami II’s first shootout win extends unbeaten run to five
The south Florida-based side celebrated its first shootout result on Sunday as Darren Powell’s squad fought back to edge FC Cincinnati 2 by a 4-3 scoreline.
Dairon Reyes’ equalizer in the 62nd minute helped the visitors force a shootout before CJ Dos Santos denied Garcia in the fifth and final round of the shootout. Inter Miami II came into Sunday’s Eastern Conference clash falling on both of its previous occasions in shootouts this season, but two points against FCC2 kept the Florida-based club in the mix for a playoff spot.
Union II celebrates latest game-winning goal in its MLS NP campaign
Philadelphia Union II kept the goals flowing at Subaru Park this weekend with Marlon LeBlanc’s side scoring their latest game-winning goal of the season.
Stefan Stojanovic’s 91st-minute strike proved to be the deciding goal as Union II downed Columbus Crew 2 by a 2-1 scoreline. It was Stojanovic’s first goal of the 2022 campaign, which couldn’t have come at a better time for the hosts.
Paxten Aaronson and Noah Fuson traded goals earlier in the match, but it was Stojanovic who arrived on the scene to hand Union II to its second-consecutive victory and first at home since May 16.
Kamungo, Ocampo-Chavez, Rothrock, and Castro celebrate multi-goal performances
Four players enjoyed multi-goal performances in Week 19 and all four led their respective teams to three points.
Bernard Kamungo, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Rudi Castro and Paul Rothrock each registered braces this weekend, with all four coming out on the winning end. Kamungo’s two goals helped North Texas SC down Sporting KC II 3-0 at home, Ocampo-Chavez scored twice in Tacoma Defiance’s 5-1 victory over St Louis CITY2, and Rothrock’s first MLS NEXT Pro brace helped TFC II down New England Revolution II by a 2-0 scoreline.
Castro’s pair of second-half goals helped Quakes II down Real Monarchs 3-1 at PayPal Park.
Kamungo and Ocampo-Chavez both remain in the race for the Golden Boot with 11 and nine goals respectively.
TFC II claims only road result of weekend
Nine MLS NEXT Pro clubs hit the road this weekend, but only one returned home with all three points.
TFC II’s 2-0 win over New England Revolution II was the lone road victory by any MLS NEXT Pro side, the fewest in a single weekend of action in 2022. Revs II came into Sunday’s showdown with one of the top home records this season at 5-1-2, but Paul Rothrock’s career-day helped the Canadian clubs extend their unbeaten run to eight matches and remain in the playoff chase in the East.