Columbus Crew 2 battered their way through the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro regular season. Although their road in the inaugural playoffs has come with a few scares, Laurent Courtois’ squad remains a favorite to bring home another piece of silverware this weekend.
Crew 2 will face off with St Louis CITY2 in Saturday’s MLS NEXT Pro Cup ar Lower.com Field, looking to cap off a dominant first season in the league. Following playoff wins over RNY FC and TFC II respectively, Crew 2 will have to prepare for the Western Conference champions, who have been just as dominant in their own right.
A dominant 4-1 win over RNY FC in the first round of the playoffs was headlined by Golden Boot winner Jacen Russell-Rowe’s hat trick, the latest impressive performance from the Best XI selection. Although Russell-Rowe did not score in Sunday’s 4-3 extra-time victory over TFC II, several other players delivered memorable moments as Crew 2 overcame some late drama on home soil.
Jordan Knight and Coleman Gannon scored 10 minutes apart in the second extra time period to propel Crew 2 back in front for good, sealing the Central Division and Eastern Conference Champions into this weekend’s final. Isaiah Parente also added one goal and one assist while Patrick Schulte contributed two saves in goal.
Both Russell-Rowe and versatile midfielder/fullback Mo Farsi were kept quiet, but have been among the best at their respective positions this season. Russell-Rowe has 24 league goals this season and has been a dangerous forward in all areas for Crew 2 while Farsi’s 10 assists during the regular season were tied for the most.
Russell-Rowe and Farsi have been one of MLS NEXT Pro’s dangerous duos this season, but others have contributed when needed, which is a huge boost for Courtois in terms of his starting lineup selections. Parente, Noah Fuson, and Michael Vang will also be pushing for minutes after contributing at earlier stages of the regular season.
Crew 2 was pushed to the brink against TFC II, but will have a new opponent to prepare for in CITY2. Both teams finished top of their respective conferences during regular season action and that has carried over to the bright lights of the playoffs.
Crew 2 will have the early edge with their home fans behind them and the familiar grass at Lower.com Field underneath them, making them one tough out for CITY2 in the final match of 2022.