MLS NEXT Pro 2023 Pacific Division Season Preview

After an incredible inaugural season, MLS NEXT Pro is back and gearing up for its second campaign.

With seven new teams joining the league in 2023 and significant changes to the playoff format, 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's Pacific Division is shaping up and what coaches and players will look to make history when they try to lay claim to the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Cup.

Head Coach: Dan DeGeer
Venue: Pay Pal Park
Record last year: Fifth place in Western Conference, 12W-8L-4T (41 points, 1 SOW, 3 SOL)
Notable Offseason News: Degeer No Longer Interim, Arfsten heads to Columbus

Quakes II announced in January that Dan Degeer would get his interim tag removed and become the new head coach ahead of the 2023 season. Degeer and his staff will be looking to get a Quakes2 squad that was on the cusp of making the postseason last year into playoffs and continue the development of several of their young stars.

Personnel-wise, Earthquakes II will be without one of their best midfielders from last year as Max Arfsten signed to the Columbus Crew first-team after being selected by the Crew in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. The 21-year-old had a great season in MLSNP in 2022, recording nine goals and six assists in 24 appearances.

Head Coach: Marcelo Sarvas
Venue: Dignity Health Sports Park's Track & Field Stadium
Record last year: N/A
Notable offseason news: A new chapter for LA Galaxy II

After spending the past nine years in the United Soccer League ranks, LA Galaxy joins MLS NEXT Pro in 2023.

Los Dos have made no official player announcements, but what we can be sure of is that the Southern Californian squad is bursting with talent and will be ready to compete in the Western Conference.

A player that may suit up for LA Galaxy II in 2023 is forward Ruben Ramos. The 15-year-old was named the U-15 MLS Next MVP for the 2021-22 season, where he scored 24 goals in 24 games. Ramos was recently named to the U.S. U-16 Men's Youth National Team that competed at the Football Federations Cup U-16 in Spain.

Another player to watch is 18-year-old Brandon Tellez. The Fullerton native was named LA Galaxy's 2022 Academy Player of the Year and named to the U-18 Mexican National Team.

Lastly, LA Galaxy Academy midfielder Paulo Rudisill was named to the 20-player United States U-19 Men's Youth National Team roster that will travel to Buenos Aires in March to face Argentina and Racing Club de Avellaneda.

Head Coach: Enrique Duran
Venue: Titan Stadium, California State University
Record last year: N/A
Notable offseason news: The Black and Gold head to MLS NEXT Pro

LAFC2 is one of seven teams joining MLS NEXT Pro in 2023, and in late January, they announced that Enrique Duran would be their first-ever head coach.
Duran joined LAFC in 2017 as the Director of Coaching and has been instrumental in developing LAFC's Academy. In 2022, Duran was named the head coach of LAFC's former USL affiliate, the Las Vegas Lights, leading the team to records for wins and points in a season.

Although their full roster has yet to be announced, their MLS NEXT academies are filled with talent that will most likely feature in MLS NEXT Pro in 2023. Some names to watch are defender Christian Diaz, defender Tyler Bindon, and midfielder Bryan Moyado.

Moyado garnered attention last year when he was named the U-17 MLS Next MVP for the 2021-22 season and was also named to the West team roster for the 2022 MLS Next All-Star game.

Head Coach: Jámison Olave
Venue: Zions Bank Stadium
Record last year: 10th place in Western Conference, 6W-14L-4T (23 points, 1 SOW, 3 SOL)
Notable Offseason News: Major turnover

This offseason was one full of departures for Real Monarchs. Whether it was moving on the first team, as was the case for goalkeeper Gavin Beavers and midfielder Diego Luna, going on loan like defender Jaziel Orozco, or moving on to other teams, as was the case for their 2022 captain Pedro Fonseca, Real Monarchs will need to find some new gems to solidify their team this season.

Real Monarchs will rely on Tyrone Mondi, Axel Kei, and Abokye Bikyeombe even more in Year 2, and with a full year of MLSNP under their belt, they'll look to wreak some havoc in the Western Conference.

Head Coach: Wade Webber
Venue: Starfire Sports Complex
Record last year: Second place in Western Conference, 14W, 6L, 4T (49 points, 3 SOW, 1 SOL)
Notable Offseason News: Next Man Up

After a successful first season in MLS NEXT Pro, Tacoma Defiance has moved on from some core pieces that guided the team to the no. 2 seed and the Western Conference Final in 2022.

Now it's up to the next generation of Defiance players to step in and continue the winning culture established last year. Players like U-17 USMNT call-ups Chris Aquino and Stuart Hawkins will make the jump from the Sounds Academy to Tacoma Defiance, while players like 6'3 Norwegian 2023 MLS SuperDraft forward Eythor Bjørgolfsson will looking to shore up an attack that will need to make up goals from players that will not be returning this season.

Head Coach: Shannon Murray
Venue: Providence Park
Record last year: 11th place in Western Conference, 2W-18L-4T(14 points, 4 SOW, 0 SOL)
Notable Offseason News: Murray visits France, Timbers2 add MLS NEXT Pro Cup-winning players

In late January, MLS announced that Timbers2 head coach Shannon Murray would be heading to France to participate in the Elite Formation Coaching License (EFCL) program in partnership with the French Football Federation (FFF). The program takes place for seven weeks over 18 months and is a highly regarded and rigorous course. The program began in February and included club observations at teams such as Arsenal, Le Havre AC, and AS Monaco.

On the player side, Timbers2 added 14 new faces to the team, hoping to leave the Western Conference cellar in 2023. Among the new faces are some players who were part of the inaugural MLSNP title-winning club for Columbus Crew 2, Tristan Weber and Michael Vang. Both were essential contributors to Crew 2 and will now bring that championship mentality to the team from the Northwest.

Head Coach: Ricardo Clark
Venue: Weidner Field
Record last year: Seventh in Western Conference, 7W-9L-8T (32 Points, 3 SOW, 5 SOL)
Notable Offseason News: A new gaffer

WFC2 will have a new head coach this 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season when former USMNT player Ricardo Clark takes over the reins of the squad from Nick Dasovic.
Dasovic led the 'Caps 2 to a seventh-place finish in the Western Conference in 2022 and will now be the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy high-potential player head coach. As HPP head coach, Dasovic will work in academy identification and player recruitment in the MLS Academy and Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System.

After a stellar 17-year playing career, Clark joined Whitecaps FC as a first-team assistant coach in 2021. The Atlanta, Georgia native will look to improve on last year's record and get WCFC2 into the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.