The inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season will kick off tomorrow night with St Louis CITY2 hosting Rochester New York FC at Hermann Stadium (8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT) in St. Louis. That match is slated to be one of the two game-of-the-week that MLS NEXT Pro will stream this weekend. Nine games will be played from Friday through Sunday, and all will stream live on mlsnextpro.com.

MLS NEXT Pro Teams 101

There are 21 teams broken into two conferences, 10 in the Eastern and 11 in the Western. The Eastern Conference features the Central and Northeast Divisions with 5 each. We’ve gathered several details on each NEXT Pro side and today we are featuring the Central Division as we get ready to kick-off what’s expected to be an exciting inaugural weekend.

FC Cincinnati 2

Overview: FC Cincinnati 2 will begin their inaugural season in MLS NEXT Pro in 2022. The club trains at the Mercy Health Training Center, home to MLS’ FC Cincinnati and the FC Cincinnati academy.

“FC Cincinnati 2 is the missing link in our development pathway,” said FC Cincinnati General Manager Chris Albright. “It’s critical for how we wish to cultivate young players at FC Cincinnati from the academy, through to the first team. This will only further unify FC Cincinnati and I’d like to thank the ownership group for their commitment.”

Home Fields: NKU Soccer Stadium in Newport, KY, Mercy Health Training Center in Milford, OH and TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, OH

Manager: Tyrone Marshall

Players to watch:

Defender Kai Thomas and Forward Daniel Martin are two academy players who signed professional contracts with FC Cincinnati 2.

Fun Fact: Tyrone Marshall joined FC Cincinnati’s Academy coaching staff in February of 2021 from Real Salt Lake, where he had been an assistant coach for the Utah MLS club since 2015. In his playing career, Marshall made over 300 MLS appearances with five different clubs between 1998 and 2012. He is a two-time winner of MLS Cup (2002 and 2005 – LA Galaxy) and a three-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winner (2005 – LA Galaxy, 2009 and 2010 – Seattle Sounders FC). The Jamaican international appeared over 85 times in his career with the national team, scoring five goals.

Official Twitter handle: FCCincinnati2

Chicago Fire FC II

Overview: Chicago Fire FC II is the final stepping-stone between the Academy and the Chicago Fire FC first team. Led by head coach Ludovic Taillandier and assistant coach, former Fire forward Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire FC II bridges the gap between the Chicago Fire Academy and the Chicago Fire FC first team, providing young players significant minutes in a professional league.

The core of the inaugural Chicago Fire FC II roster is comprised of players who were part of the Chicago Fire FC Academy U-19 squad that won the inaugural MLS NEXT Championship. The Chicago Fire FC Academy U-19 squad, under the helm of Taillandier and Nyardko, finished the tournament with a perfect 4-0-0 record, tallying 17 goals while conceding only four. The Fire’s two most recent Homegrown signings, midfielder Sergio Oregel and forward Missael Rodríguez, earned the MLS NEXT Championship Golden Ball and Golden Boot, respectively.

Home Field(s) (Name & Location): SeatGeek Stadium; Bridgeview, IL

Manager: Ludovic Taillandier

Players to watch:

Josh Penn is a 21-year-old who played for Indy Eleven on a USL academy contract before heading to Indiana University for the 2019 season. Following the cancellation of the 2020 college season, Penn entered the MLS SuperDraft and was selected 10th overall by Inter Miami CF in 2021. He appeared in two matches for Inter Miami CF before going on loan to Fort Lauderdale CF of USL League 1 and Charleston Battery of the USL Championship. Penn attended preseason training camp with the Chicago Fire first team. Penn also earned two caps for the U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team at the International Friendlies in September 2018. Additionally, he played one match while on trial with the Brondby IF reserve squad in Norway in 2019.

Charlie Ostrem is a 22-year-old defender from Richmond Beach, Wash., played at University of Washington from 2018-21. After earning All-American and 2020-21 PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors following a strong junior campaign, he earned All PAC-12 First Team recognition in his senior season. Ostrem concluded his career at Washington with 75 appearances (61 starts) and 22 assists, ranking ninth all-time for the Huskies. Earlier this year, Ostrem traveled to Orlando with the Chicago Fire FC first team for preseason training camp.

Carlo Ritaccio is a 22-year-old who spent the last four seasons with the University of Akron, where he made 58 appearances (52 starts) for the Zips. A native of Westbury, N.Y., as a freshman Ritaccio helped anchor a Zips’ defensive unit that posted eight shutouts in the 2018 campaign, while tallying three goals, all in the postseason, en route to being named the National Freshman of the Year by TopDrawerSoccer.com, as well as being tabbed to their Freshman Best XI first team. Earlier this year, Ritaccio traveled to Orlando with the Chicago Fire FC first team for preseason training camp. At the international level, Ritaccio has earned call ups to the U-14, U-15 and U-17 U.S. Men’s Youth National Teams.

Mihajlo Mišković is a 23-year-old who played the previous five seasons at Northwestern University in Chicago, including the 2021 season as a graduate student. He made 62 appearances (41 starts) for the Wildcats. A native of Zemun, Serbia, Mišković moved to the Chicago area as a teenager where he played for Chicago Magic before joining the Chicago Fire Academy. In 2021, Mišković led the Wildcats to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, saving a penalty during regulation time to keep the score at 0-0, and another in the penalty kick shootout to advance past No. 10 Maryland, before falling to eventual tournament finalist Indiana University.

Matteo Kidd is 24-year-old who most recently played under current Chicago Fire assistant coach C.J. Brown at Chicago House AC in the National Independent Soccer League (NISA) in 2021. While with House, Kidd earned 18 appearances (13 starts) in the team’s inaugural season. Prior to his time in Chicago, Kidd played 48 games (42 starts) for St. Louis University, earning Second-team All-Conference honors in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Omari Glasgow is an 18-year-old who joins the Fire from Western Tigers in the Guyanese first division. Internationally, he has represented Guyana at the senior, U-20 and U-17 age levels. Glasgow has earned four caps for the Guyana senior team, most recently participating in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Bahamas (4-0), St. Kitts and Nevis (0-3) and Puerto Rico (0-2).

Fun Fact: Luka Bezerra is the younger brother of Chicago Fire FC Homegrown player Victor Bezerra and Justin Reynolds is the younger brother of Chicago Fire FC Homegrown player Andre Reynolds II

Official Twitter handle: ChicagoFireNext

Columbus Crew 2

Overview: Columbus Crew 2, Columbus Crew’s developmental Second Team, launched in December of 2021. As part of the pathway to the Crew’s First Team, Crew 2 will join the new league as part of the inaugural 2022 season and will play its regular season matches at Historic Crew Stadium. The newly formed Crew 2 will provide a competitive professional environment for existing Crew Academy players to continue their development.

Home Fields: Historic Crew Stadium and Lower.com Field in Columbus, OH.

Manager: Laurent Courtois

Players to watch: Crew 2 General Manager Corey Wray said the following about several players to watch:

“In addition to being the first player from the Crew Academy to sign with Crew 2, Aidan Wolf is a creative midfielder with a lot of potential. He has made tremendous progress while with our Academy and we can't wait to see him continue his development.”

Philip Quinton was one of the highest ranked collegiate defenders during his time at Notre Dame. In addition to being a strong, physical center back with deceptive speed, he has good organizational and leadership skills.”

Mo Farsi is a resourceful player who is effective on both sides of the ball. In addition to being one of the top young Canadian prospects, Farsi has a lot of experience for a player of his age.”

Did you know? Historic Crew Stadium was the first professional soccer-specific stadium in the United States

Fun Fact: We have two players who have represented their national team at the senior level:

Isaac Angking (Puerto Rico) and Abdi Mohamed (Somalia) and our roster features players from seven different countries including the U.S.

  • Canada (Mo Farsi, Jordan Knight, and Jacen Russell-Rowe)
  • Ghana (Nana Tuffour)
  • Italy (Marco Micaletto)
  • Senegal (Justin Malou)
  • Sierra Leone (Jay Tee Kamara)
  • Somalia (Abdi Mohamed)

Official Social Media handles: ColumbusCrew2 on Twitter and Instagram

Inter Miami CF II

Overview: Inter Miami CF II is an affiliate team of Inter Miami CF playing in MLS NEXT Pro. As part of Inter Miami’s player development platform, Inter Miami CF II provides a defined pathway for youth players to reach the professional ranks.

Home Field: DRV PNK Stadium; Fort Lauderdale, FL

Manager: Darren Powell

Players to watch:

Shaan Hundal is a 22-year-old returning striker for Inter Miami CF II. In 2021, he tied for the lead on the team with 27 appearances, playing the second-most minutes of any Inter Miami CF II player. He also led the team with 11 goals.

Modesto Mendez was recently called up to Inter Miami’s First Team on a short-term loan agreement for its second MLS match of 2022. The 24-year-old defender was a mainstay for Inter Miami CF II in 2021, starting 18 of its matches. Mendez has also made three appearances for the Cuban senior national team.

Harvey Neville is 19 years old and is also returning to Inter Miami CF II for another season. The versatile right back, who can also feature in midfield, was a consistent contributor for the team in 2021, finishing fourth in minutes played and third in starts on the team.

Did you know? Of the first 15 announced Inter Miami CF II players, six of them (Noah Allen, Logan Batiste, Drew Hardin, Ethan Hardin, Dairon Reyes, David Ruiz) are local Inter Miami CF Academy products, while another two are South Florida natives (Shanyder Borgelin, Abel Caputo).

Official Twitter handle: InterMiamiCFII

Orlando City B

Overview: An inaugural member of MLS NEXT Pro, Orlando City B returns to the pitch in 2022 after previous stints in USL Pro and USL League One. An integral part of the Club’s development pyramid, OCB remains a critical piece of the Orlando City SC development pyramid, helping to bridge the gap from the Academy to the First Team in Major League Soccer.

Home Field: Osceola County Stadium at Osceola Heritage Park; Kissimmee, FL 

Manager: Martín Perelman

Players to watch: 

Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas joined the Orlando City Academy in August of 2020 and would go on to win the Golden Ball for the 2020-2021 MLS NEXT Season in the U17 age group. Agustoni-Chagas scored four goals during the 2020-2021 MLS NEXT regular season and added a pair of goals during the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs to lead his team to the MLS NEXT Cup title a year ago. 

Moises Tablante has been with our Academy since 2017 and was a member of Orlando City B back in USL League One from 2019-20. In that span he made 27 appearances for the Lions, scoring two goals and will look to build on his experience here in the coming MLS NEXT Pro season. 

Official Twitter handle: OrlandoCityB