The inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season is nearing conclusion, as the regular season wrapped up in Week 26 with an exhilarating Decision Day deciding the fate of many. The 2022 MLS NEXT Pro playoffs are now upon us, with the top four teams from each respective conference set to go head-to-head starting on September 24.
Here is a closer look at MLS NEXT Pro's final Top 5 rankings:
RNY FC maintained its No. 5 spot in the Power Rankings following their 2-2 draw against NYCFC II in Week 26. They failed to take the additional point in kicks from the spot, but the regulation draw was enough to see Bruno Baltazar’s side clinch a spot in the postseason.
Goals from Gibran Rayo and Pedro Dolabella helped the lone independent franchise in the league continue their miraculous debut season as an organization, and they’ll now look to continue their run in the postseason.
They ended their inaugural campaign in the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference, meaning they’ve set up a meeting with the regular season champions Columbus Crew 2 in the opening round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.
Previous Ranking: 5
Next Match: vs Crew 2, September 24
Defiance dropped two spots to the No. 4 spot in the rankings following their less than ideal showing against Timbers2 in Week 26. Wade Webber’s side had an opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference on Decision Day, but they fell 2-0 at home to their Pacific Northwest rivals.
Defiance still ended the day as the No. 2 overall seed in the West, despite the loss against T2, as criteria points determined the seeding between them, CITY2 and Dynamo Dos – with all three sides level on points. Wade Webber’s side can be proud of many of their accomplishments this season, as they end the campaign with the second-best goal differential across the league and the third-most home wins of any team.
Now, they look ahead to the postseason, where they will host Houston Dynamo 2 in the opening round of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs.
Previous Ranking: 2
Next Match: vs Houston Dynamo 2, September 25
Dynamo Dos jumped one spot in the Week 26 Power Rankings up to the No. 3 spot following an immaculate regular season finale showing, as they knocked off North Texas SC 2-0. Goals from Marcelo Palomino and Juan Castilla secured a win and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference heading into the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro playoffs
Following the departure of former head coach Kenny Bundy, who was called in to interim coach Dynamo's first team on September 5, there were questions as to how Dynamo Dos would continue as a team. Sunday’s performance in the regular season finale proved any doubters wrong.
Despite being level on points with both CITY2 and Defiance to end the regular season, Dynamo Dos ended as the No. 3 seed heading into the postseason due to criteria points. They’re set to head on the road to Defiance in the opening round of the postseason.
Previous Ranking: 4
Next Match: at Tacoma Defiance, September 25
CITY2 climbed back into the MLS NEXT Pro Top 5 rankings in Week 26 following a 1-1 draw with Sporting KC II that saw them end the regular season atop the Western Conference. Kyle Heibert’s 12th-minute goal was all they needed, as SKC II claimed the additional point in the shootout.
The Decision Day finale saw CITY2 end a two-match losing streak and claim the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference heading into the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.
CITY2 ended the regular season with the best Away record across the league. Now, they are set to host the No. 4 seed North Texas SC in the opening round of the playoffs.
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Next Match: vs North Texas SC, September 25
Crew 2 once again come in at the top spot in the MLS NEXT Pro rankings, with their Week 26 showing being the most explosive attacking display we have seen in this inaugural campaign. Crew 2 knocked off FC Cincinnati 2 9-0, with six of their nine goals coming in the second half.
Forward Jacen Russell-Rowe secured the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot with a four-goal showing in the contest, ending the regular season with a whopping 21 goals.
Ending the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season as the regular season Champions, Crew 2 finished with an outstanding record of 16-3-5 including an impressive home record of 11-1-0. They also end with the highest goal. differential across the league at +40, a feat that head coach Laurent Courtois can be incredibly proud of.
As the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference, Crew 2 are set to host RNY FC in the opening round of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.
Previous Ranking: 1
Next Match: vs RNY FC, September 24