As the playoffs near in MLS NEXT Pro’s inaugural season, every match ramps up the gravity of securing three points. Week 24 is no different as New England Revolution II hosts Orlando City B at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The action is set to kick off at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
Revs II enter this week on a two-game losing skid but still hold the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with a chance to still make the playoffs. But with only three games remaining, the team has to win to keep its postseason aspirations alive.
On the other hand, Orlando City B is still in the hunt for a playoff spot but has a more arduous path. The team is currently in ninth place in the Eastern standings and eight points away from a top-four seed. Three wins in its last three games may not be enough to move into the playoffs, but don’t expect this team to go down without a fight.
How to watch
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A playoff spot is just within reach for New England Revolution II, but the form its been on is doing the club no favors.
The team is coming off back-to-back losses going into this week and has lost seven of its last 10 matches. Not the finish to a season any team wants.
That being said, Revs II is still in the playoff hunt but has to win its remaining three games to still have a shot of making it. But for that to happen, the club has to beat ninth-place Orlando City B who is also fighting for its playoff lives.
Despite its recent skid, Revs II is still capable of turning around its season with a massive win this week. The club has to rely on aggressive counterattack that has resulted in seven players scoring two or more goals this week and its assertive defense that had a string of clean sheets earlier in the season.
Players to Watch:
Marcos Domingos Dias, forward - As the leading goal scorer on the team with six, the 20-year-old must find the back of the net in his last three games if his side is to make a playoff push.
Michel Costa da Silva, midfielder - Costa da Silva is tied for the most assists on the team with four. The midfielder sets the table so his frontline can eat, but can he manage to find his teammates as defenses hunker down.
Maxwell Weinstein, goalkeeper - Conceding seven goals in two matches isn’t ideal, so the 18-year-old must solidify his presence in goal with only three games remaining. Look for Weinstein to do everything in his power to keep a much-needed clean sheet.
Orlando City B is in a similar boat, but one that’s sinking fast if the team doesn’t perform.
It’s now or never for the team from Orlando as the club has three games remaining to move from its current ninth spot in the East to a top-four seed. Easier said than done, but the possibility of making the postseason is still there.
The team is currently riding a four-match unbeaten run following a 2-2 draw against FC Cincinnati 2 last week that ended in a shootout loss. Incredible form to end the season, but in the bigger picture, the team has to secure all three points in its remaining games.
Against a struggling Revs II side, Orlando City B has an opportunity to steal a win on the road if the team neutralizes any momentum the opposition builds at home and feeds forward Jack Lynn, who has 15 goals this season.
Players to Watch:
Jack Lynn, forward - Scoring 15 goals so far in the season is stellar, but now is when his side needs it the most. Can the 22-year-old step up and bag crucial goals down the stretch? Also, his availability remains in question after missing Monday's match against FCC2.
Favian Loyola, midfielder - Loyola scored a brace last week against FC Cincinnati 2. The 17-year-old has five goals this season, but that being said needs to build off his form to push his side into the playoffs.
Moises Tablante, forward - Tablante also has five goals this season, but additionally has four assists to his name. With Lynn getting most of the attention from the opposition’s backline, Tablante must find a way to make defenders pay for leaving him unmarked.