Week 14

MLS NEXT Pro halfway point: Eastern Conference

The inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season has officially reached the halfway point at the end of week 14. 

How has each team fared? Who are the standout players? What does each Conference look like and who have emerged as Playoff frontrunners?

Here is a closer look at the pros, cons, and key performers of each side.


Record: 7-2-3 (25 points)

The Pros: Revs II have emerged as one of the top Eastern Conference sides through the first half of the season. They sit second overall across the Eastern Conference rankings and find themselves atop of the Northeast Division. So far, Clint Peay's men have averaged 2.08 points per game and have managed to acquire the most home wins of any Eastern Conference side with five. 

The Cons: Revs II have the lowest goal differential of any current Eastern Conference playoff contender. Their backline has proved to be penetrable, which could prove costly in the long run. They sit with a +2 goal-differential, but have conceded 13 goals in 12 matches – statistically, one per game at a minimum. They’ll need to shore up their back line if they want to continue to push for the No. 1 overall seed in the East.

Key Players

Damian Rivera, midfielder: The heart of their midfield, Rivera has three goals to his name this season while boasting an 83.9 successful passing percentage along the way.

Jacob Jackson, goalkeeper: Jackson was named MLS NEXT Pro Goalkeeper of the month during the month of May for his shot-stopping skills.

Record: 5-4-3 (19 points)

The Pros: NYCFC II have turned out to be the attacking powerhouse of the Eastern Conference, with 26 goals scored in their first 11 matches. They find themselves second place in the Northeast Division and third overall in the Eastern Conference. 

The Cons: NYCFC II has only managed to win one of three shootout opportunities, which has left valuable points on the table. The New York City-based side also has yet to beat the two Eastern Conference sides ahead of them, and should look to rise to their level in the back half of the season.

Key Players:

John Denis, forward: Denis leads the team with six goals scored this season and has established himself as a competitor for the Golden Boot award.

Stephen Turnbull, defender: A rock on the backline, Turnbull has also been a favorable target in the attack with three goals to his name this season.

Record: 4-4-3 (18 points)

The Pros: RNY FC has been one of the hottest teams across MLS NEXT Pro over the past six weeks. Head Coach Bruno Baltazar and the club received the Coach of the month and Team of the month awards during May. They’ve now gone unbeaten in six of their last seven matches to surge into the East's elite.

The Cons: The side from Rochester started the season 0-3-1 and took longer than their Eastern Conference competitors to figure out their groove. The mission for the second half of the season should be to avoid another extensive winless streak.

Key Players:

Pedro Dolabella, forward: Dolabella leads the team in scoring with four goals and one assist to his name.

Gilbran Rayo, forward: Rayo has been one of the brightest players on RNY FC, with four goals and three assists to his name.

Record: 4-4-3 (17 points)

The Pros: Union II have been battling it out all season and have had some great results fall their way. They sit just one point out of a playoff spot behind RNY FC, fifth overall in the East. They have won two out of a possible three shootouts in kicks from the spot while boasting an impressive 3-1-1 record at home.

The Cons: Union II have struggled on the road, going 1-3-2 in six matches. In a tight Eastern Conference, they’ll need to step it up there. If they want to find themselves in a playoff spot come the end of the season.

Key Players:

Christopher Donovan, forward: Donovan leads the team in scoring and has been a crucial player for them in the attack. He has three goals and one assist this season.

Brandan Craig, defender: The 18-year-old has one goal and two assists from the center back position and has kept one clean sheet so far this season.

Record: 5-6-1 (16 points)

The Pros: TFC II is coming off of three important performances in as many weeks before the halfway mark, securing a win over Union II, a win over NYCFC II and a draw with RNY FC. They sit 5th in the Northeast Conference and sixth overall across the East. They’ve been a goalscoring threat all season with 22 goals to their name, but a leaky defense has cost them at the same time.

The Cons: They have conceded 25 goals in 12 matches, which isn’t great all things considered. Their defense has been leaky, despite some big results early in the season. They’ll need to shore up their defense if they want to continue to climb up the East.

Key Players:

Hugo Mbongue, midfielder: The 17-year-old has four goals and three assists to his name this season and his performances have seen him called up to the Canada U-20 National Team.

Alonso Coello, midfielder: Coello has started 10 of a possible 11 matches this season and has been the first midfielder name on the team sheet this season. He’s provided consistency in the middle with a goal, an assist, and an 87.9 successful passing percentage.

Central Division


Record: 10-2-0 (30 points)

The Pros: Crew 2 have lit up MLS NEXT Pro and emerged as the top team across the league through 11 matches. An opening week loss didn't exactly set the stage for how dominant they have become. The Columbus side has racked up a +18 goal-differential thanks in big part to 30 goals scored in the weeks that followed and look to be an early playoff lock.

The Cons: It is tough to criticize Laurent Cortois' side, but it has not been perfect. Losses happen, and 4-0 ones are always worth another look. Friday's rematch with RNY FC should be an opportunity to avenge the lopsided defeat and prove that their Achellies' heel was not exposed by an older squad.

Key Players:

Jacen Russell-Rowe, forward: The 19-year-old Canadian is the top attacker across MLS NEXT Pro with 11 goals to his name. He leads the golden boot race while enjoying a league-record nine-game personal scoring streak.

Noah Fuson, forward: Russel-Rowe's co-star has proved to be one of the most versatile players across NEXT Pro, scoring seven goals and adding three assists while being a rock in the Crew 2 attack.

Record: 5-7-1 (16 points)

The Pros: They have managed to acquire some impressive results, including a win over Crew 2 in Week One. They’ve also earned four clean sheets along the way in some impressive road and home victories.

The Cons: A -13 goal differential and 30 conceded goals in 13 matches are the most across the entire Eastern Conference. If they want to find themselves in a playoff spot come the end of the season, Inter Miami II will need to shore up their defense and find consistency in back-to-back performances.

Key Players:

Shanyder Borgelin, forward: Borgelin leads the team in scoring with four goals and has been a go-to in the box.

Abel Caputo, midfielder: An 88.1 successful passing percentage and a starter in all 13 games, Caputo has been composed and held the midfield together all season.

Record: 2-6-3 (11 points)

The Pros: OCB has won two out of a possible three shootouts so far this season, finding themselves composed from the spot. Their attack has been spontaneous and forward Jack Lynn has been remarkable.

The Cons: They have lost all five road matches this season, averaging one point-per-game through all 11. Their attack has been too reliant on the success of Lynn, with only one other multi-goal scorer this season. If the boys in purple want to find themselves in the three points column more as we start the second half of the season, others beyond Lynn will need to step up.

Key players:

Jack Lynn, forward: Lynn is the second-best scorer across MLS NEXT Pro with nine goals.

Moises Tablante, forward: Tablante has four assists so far this season, with two goals to his name as well.

Record: 2-6-4 (11 points)

The Pros: Fire II have managed to secure draws against playoff-containing teams, showing both offensive and defensive composure in certain matches. The inconsistency is what may be plaguing them, but the positive takeaway is that the glimpses and oh-so-close results are there – they just need that winning goal.

The Cons: Only two wins and one shootout win leave for several areas of opportunity, but focusing on improving upon a 1-3-3 home record in the back half should unlock the Chicago-based side.

Key players:

Josh Penn, forward: The former Indiana Hoosier has four goals and three assists so far, leading the team in both categories. He’s been a bright spot in a bleak attack.

Omari Glasgow, forward: The 18-yea-old Guyanese has come up big in moments with three goals and an assist despite only featuring in four matches so far.

The Pros: FCC2 pulled off an impressive 1-0 win over RNY FC on June 11th, winning 1-0 over a top Eastern Conference contender. They’ve scored 14 goals in 11 matches, but have struggled to make those goals count in the long run.

The Cons: Limited roster availability has seen the depths of a three-man (one being a goalie) bench at times this season. Three newcomers and a focus on increasing internal competition will unlock the ability to rotate, but doing it well on the fly will not be an easy task for head coach Tyrone Marshall.

Key Players:

Nick Markanich, forward: Markanic is tied for the team lead with three goals and has 18 shots with 7 on target through 11 games while balancing MLS and MLS NEXT Pro duties simultaneously

Avionne Flanagan, defender: The versatile wing-back has three goals and three assists so far, proving to be their most crucial asset in the final third.