The MLS NEXT Pro playoffs are around the corner and the teams participating in the tournament are rounding out as the season wanes. Playoff positions are still at stake going into Week 25 as Whitecaps FC 2 host Tacoma Defiance at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, British Columbia. The action is set to kick off at 10 p.m. ET on Friday.

Tacoma Defiance enter this week as the second seed in the Western Conference with a chance to leapfrog into the top with a win and a St Louis CITY2 loss. Easier said than done against a Whitecaps FC 2 side looking to avenge its 3-1 loss to Earthquakes II in their last match. 

Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention, WFC2 will not go out without a fight so look forward to a highly contested match as both teams fight for a strong finish to the season.

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Tacoma Defiance will return to action this week after taking the last match week off. The team is coming off a 1-0 loss to Real Monarchs in their last game but have won seven of their last 10 matches.

Despite being in a great spot as the second seed in the West on goal difference, the Defiance still have a chance to go beyond that and snatch the top spot.

The team from Washington can leapfrog St Louis CITY2 in the standings with a win against Whitecaps FC 2 and if CITY2 lose against North Texas FC.

For that to happen the Defiance have to find another gear to finish its season in grand fashion. Specifically, the frontline and overall offense must step up in the last two games as Tacoma have only scored twice in the last three matches.

Look for rising stars Marlon Vargas and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez to lead the charge with the duo combining to score 21 goals this season.

Players to watch:

Marlon Vargas, midfielder - The 21-year-old leads the Defiance with 12 goals and six assists. Impressive tallies but now with the stakes risen in every game the midfielder has to step up to the plate now more than ever.

Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, forward - Along Vargas’ side is goal-scoring threat Ocampo-Chavez who has nine goals this season. However, the forward has gone scoreless in his last four matches so look for him to end that drought.

Abdoulaye Cissoko, defender - Cissoko might be the unsung hero for the Defiance as the defender has six goals and will certainly play a huge role in both the Defiance offense and defense.

Whitecaps FC 2 have already been eliminated from playoff contention, but the team still has plenty to fight for.

The team is currently on a four-game skid, the longest losing streak this season with the latest loss being a 3-1 defeat against Earthquakes II. 

That being said, WFC2 can still finish as high as fifth in the West with wins in their last two games if other results go their way. 

However, Tacoma Defiance stands in their way. Look for the defense to step up after conceding 12 goals in their last four matches and the frontline to amp up the home crowd at Swangard Stadium.

Players to watch:

Simon Becher, forward - The 23-year-old leads the team in scoring with seven goals. Look for the team to target Becher in the box to expose the Defiance backline.

Ali Ahmed, midfielder - Setting the table for Becher and the frontline is Ahmed who leads the team with five assists. The 21-year-old will certainly be in and around the goals in the last two games for his side.

Emiliano Brienza, forward - Despite coming off the bench, Brienza makes a huge impact on the game for WFC2. The forward has four goals and an assist so look for him to make a clutch play at the end of games.