Columbus Crew 2 became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch their division in MLS NEXT Pro following a 2-0 home win over Philadelphia Union II. TFC II’s unbeaten run ended at 10 matches on Saturday following a 2-1 road loss to Chicago Fire FC II while St Louis CITY2’s winning run extended to four matches following a 5-3 triumph on the road over Timbers2. Rudi Castro helped keep Quakes II’s playoff hopes alive with a brace at Sporting KC II.

Here’s your MLS NEXT Pro week 23 recap by the numbers.

Columbus Crew 2 joins Tacoma Defiance as only teams to clinch divisions so far

Columbus Crew 2 secured the Central Division title on Saturday after downing Philadelphia Union II by a 2-0 scoreline. 

Jake Morris and Jacen Russell-Rowe both celebrated goals in the victory at Lower.com Field, while Patrick Schulte registered his seventh clean sheet of the 2022 campaign. Bajung Darboe’s red card ejection in the second half did not help Union II’s chances for a comeback before Russell-Rowe netted his 16th goal of the season. 

Crew 2 have not lost in regulation in their last four matches and have three regular season matches left to play.

Chicago Fire FC II snaps TFC II’s 10-match unbeaten run

TFC II’s 10-match unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday with Chicago Fire FC II earning one of the results of Week 23. 

Richard Fleming III and Missael Rodriguez both found the back of the net in a 2-1 victory at SeatGeek Stadium, giving Fire II only their third regulation win in the past eight weeks. Chris Brady excelled in goal for Ludovic Talliander’s squad, making six saves to help preserve the upset victory, a result that kept Fire II’s playoff hopes alive. 

TFC II missed the chance to extend its advantage in second place in the Eastern Conference, now sitting just three points from the red line.

St Louis CITY2’s fourth-consecutive win boosts them to top spot in West 

John Hackworth’s squad is clicking at the right time after jumping up to first place in the Western Conference. 

A 5-3 road victory over Timbers2 helped CITY2 leapfrog Tacoma Defiance into the top spot with 48 points earned so far this regular season. CITY2 scored five goals for the second-consecutive weekend and extended their winning run to four matches with the result. 

Joao Klauss scored twice while Vitor Dias, Akil Watts, and Kyle Hiebert also celebrated goals of their own. CITY2 has been strong at both ends of the field this season, totaling the second most goals scored to date (49) while only conceding the sixth-fewest goals (29). 

CITY2 will next travel to Houston Dynamo 2 and North Texas SC before closing out their regular season schedule on Decision Day against Sporting KC II at home.

Dynamo Dos, Rapids 2 extend unbeaten runs with victories 

Houston Dynamo 2 and Colorado Rapids 2 both extended their current unbeaten runs this week with road victories on Matchday 23.

Dynamo Dos moved to nine-unbeaten following a 1-0 road win over MNUFC2 as Kyle Edwards’ first-half penalty kick was all Kenny Bundy’s side needed to move closer to a playoff spot. It was Dynamo Dos’ fourth shutout during their unbeaten streak while Edwards netted his fifth goal of the season.

Colorado Rapids 2 may be playing for pride at this point, but it didn’t stop them from extending their unbeaten run to six matches following a 2-1 victory over Whitecaps FC 2 on Thursday. Philip Mayaka and Maclovio Swett scored 23 minutes apart in the second half to help Rapids 2 overturn a first-half deficit on the road at Swangard Stadium.

It was Rapids 2’s first regulation win since July 15th and another strong performance with only three matches left to play. 

Quakes II forward Rudi Castro becomes ninth double-digit goalscorer in 2022

Earthquakes II kept their playoff hopes alive on Sunday night with a 4-1 road victory over Sporting KC II. Rudi Castro remained at the forefront of Quakes II’s fight by becoming the ninth double-digit goalscorer in MLS NEXT Pro this season. 

Castro scored twice to take his season tally to 10 goals this season, the most by any Quakes player this season. It was Castro’s third multi-goal performance of the season and it came at a crucial time with Daniel de Geer’s squad moving six points back of fourth-place North Texas SC. 

Quakes II next face Whitecaps FC II at PayPal Park on Sept. 5, likely needing Castro’s heroics again to stay alive for a playoff berth.

Crew 2’s Patrick Schulte joins Caique atop clean sheet list 

While much of the talk surrounding Columbus Crew 2 has been about Jacen Russell-Rowe, Mo Farsi, and others, Patrick Schulte has played a key role for the Central Division winners. 

Schulte joined RNY FC goalkeeper Caique atop the clean sheet list on Saturday after earning his seventh shutout of the 2022 MLS NEXT PRO season in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia Union II. The 21-year-old made one save in the victory, a result that helped Crew 2 clinch the Central Division title.

Schulte’s 1.00 GAA is also among the tops in MLS NEXT Pro, showing how important he is to Laurent Courtois’ squad.