- Columbus Crew 2 to Host Eastern Conference Finals -
- St Louis CITY2 to Host Western Conference Finals -
- Both Matches to be Played October 2 -
NEW YORK CITY (September 26, 2022) – Following the thrilling conclusion of the Conference Semifinals Sunday night, MLS NEXT Pro today announced the schedule for its Eastern and Western Conference Finals. The next round of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs will take place on Sunday, October 2 with Columbus Crew 2 hosting Toronto FC II and St Louis CITY2 hosting Tacoma Defiance.
The 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Conference Finals schedule is as follows:
Sunday, October 2
Columbus Crew 2 (1) vs. Toronto FC II (2) – Historic Crew Stadium (5:00 p.m. ET)
Sunday, October 2
St Louis CITY2 (1) vs. Tacoma Defiance (2) – Ralph Korte Stadium (8:30 p.m. ET)
With eight teams having qualified for the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs, the home, higher-seeded team won each of the Conference Semifinals this past weekend, with the four regular season Division Champions all advancing to the Conference Finals.
The top seed in the East and owners of the League’s best record in the regular season, Crew 2 moved onto the Conference Finals after a 4-1 win over Rochester New York FC in the Semifinals on Saturday. The Central Division Champions were led by 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot winner Jacen Russell-Rowe, who recorded a hat trick in his Playoffs debut.
In the second Eastern Conference Semifinal, Toronto FC II defeated Philadelphia Union II, 1-0, in a close-fought match on Saturday. Hugo Mbongue’s goal in the sixth minute was enough for the Northeast Division Champions to advance to the Conference Finals.
Scoreless late in the second half, top seeded St Louis CITY2 scored in the 73rd minute and converted a penalty kick in stoppage time to secure a 2-0 victory over North Texas SC on Sunday. Tomáš Ostrák (73’) and Célio Pompeu (90’+1’ PK) rallied the Frontier Division Champions into the Western Conference Finals.
The final game of the Semifinals between Pacific Division Champion Tacoma Defiance and Houston Dynamo 2 required 30 minutes of extra time and a shootout of kicks from the penalty mark to decide the winner. Down two goals with six minutes remaining, Tacoma fought back to eventually win in the shootout over Houston Sunday night. Goals by Beto Avila (40’) and Jacob Evans (50’) seemed as if they would be enough for a Dynamo Dos victory before a late push by the Defiance, as a Marlon Vargas penalty kick (84’) and a Houston own-goal (90’+4’) in stoppage time forced extra time. The 2-2 tie remained after two 15-minute scoreless periods of extra time and a trip to the Western Conference Finals came down to a five-round shootout, which was won by Tacoma, 5-4.
The excitement of the Playoffs continues this Sunday, October 2, when fans can watch the Eastern and Western Conference Finals on mlsnextpro.com to find out who will earn their way into the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup on October 8.