MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 2 Preview

Matchday 2 of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season gets underway on Friday with a trio of Eastern Conference showdowns to kick off the weekend on a high note.

Chicago Fire II and TFC II are one of three 7 p.m. ET kickoffs on Friday, with both teams coming off opposite results on opening weekend. Omari Glasgow is back for Fire II after his international involvement with Guyana’s national team, while Reshaun Walkes remains a top offensive talent for TFC II.

FC Cincinnati 2 led all MLS NEXT Pro clubs by scoring four goals in a 4-2 Matchday 1 victory over TFC II. Arquimides Ordonez scored twice for Tyrone Marshall’s squad and remained a critical young talent going forward. Crown Legacy FC hosts FCC 2 on Friday, seeking its first MLS NEXT Pro victory after taking Huntsville City FC to a shootout in its league debut.

Huntsville City FC claimed two points in its MLS NEXT Pro debut. Jack Collison’s squad will now visit Orlando City B. OCB rolled past Philadelphia Union II by a 3-1 scoreline and seek similar success at home on Friday.

Sunday’s heavy slate is headlined by St Louis CITY2’s home showdown with MNUFC2.

Here is a closer look at the Matchday 2 schedule:

Friday, March 31

Chicago Fire II has its first home match of the 2023 season on Friday, with TFC II making the trip to SeatGeek Stadium.

Ludovic Talliander’s squad rolled past Inter Miami II by a 3-1 scoreline and will hope for a second-straight win this weekend. Alex Monis and Matteo Kidd were among the goalscorers in Florida and will team up with Guyana international Omari Glasgow, who returns from international duty.

TFC II conceded three second-half goals in Monday’s 4-2 loss to FC Cincinnati 2, something Gianni Cimini’s squad will try to clean up in Bridgeview this weekend. Reshaun Walkes and Alec Diaz celebrated their first MLS NEXT Pro season goals and will be the go-to guys again in the final third.

Crown Legacy FC showed plenty of fight in its MLS NEXT Pro debut, but a better overall performance is needed to earn a first league victory on Friday. Jose Tavares’ squad forced a shootout in a 2-2 result against Huntsville City FC but couldn’t hang on for two points.

Brandon Cambridge and Nick Scardina will be riding high on confidence after debut goals last weekend.

Arquimides Ordonez propelled FCC2 past TFC II on Monday by scoring twice in an impressive home result. The Guatemalan international remains one of the top prospects in MLS NEXT Pro and will be looking to do more of the same on Matchday 2.

Jack Collison’s Huntsville City FC squad makes the trip to Orlando City B on Matchday 2. 

Huntsville City FC will rely on the attacking talents of Azaad Liadi on Friday after the young forward scored twice against Crown Legacy FC. Liadi, 24, has made an early name in MLS NEXT Pro after featuring for several USL clubs. 

Orlando City B claimed a 3-1 road win over Philadelphia Union II on Sunday, using goals from three players. Jack Lynn scored his first campaign goal after a solid 2022 year for OCB. Javier Otero made two saves in the win and easily can steal three points on his own.

Sunday, April 2

Subaru Park hosts Philadelphia Union II’s second home match of the season as Inter Miami II comes to town.

Marlon LeBlanc will be hoping for a bounce-back performance from his squad after a 3-1 home loss to Orlando City B on Matchday 1. Nelson Pierre and Stefan Stojanovic have MLS NEXT Pro experience and will be the go-to leaders in this youthful squad.

Inter Miami II was also defeated on Matchday 1, losing 3-1 at DRV PNK Stadium to Chicago Fire II. Dominican Republic international Edison Azcona scored the lone goal for Federico Higuain’s squad and remains one of the top attacking threats in the Eastern Conference. Harvey Neville and Benjamin Cremaschi are also young players to watch for in this contest.

Austin FC II was the only MLS NEXT Pro debutant to win on Matchday 1, and Brett Uttley’s squad now hits the road to try and make it back-to-back victories. 

Sporting KC II opposes Austin FC II on Sunday, with Valentin Noel headlining Austin’s dynamic attacking front. Noel scored twice in a 2-1 comeback result over Houston Dynamo 2 and will be itching to get after Benny Feilhaber’s backline this weekend.

SKC II started strong at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park against Colorado Rapids 2 but could not avoid a 2-1 road loss. Kendall McIntosh brings plenty of experience in goal and could be forced to stand on his head for SKC II to walk away with its first three points of 2023.

MNUFC2 was the Matchday 1 Team of the Week following a 3-0 shutout win over Real Monarchs. Cameron Knowles’ squad will be full of confidence ahead of a Matchday 2 trip to last season’s MLS NEXT Pro Cup finalists. 

Diogo Pacheco scored twice for MNUFC2, while 18-year-old academy player Leo Conneh celebrated his first MLS goal. Conneh also assisted once in the performance, walking away with MLS NEXT Performer of the Matchday honors. 19-year-old goalkeeper Fred Emmings is also a rising prospect within the Minnesota United program.

St Louis CITY2 tied it up late against Tacoma Defiance but could not walk away with two points in an eventual shootout loss at CITYPARK. CITY2 still has boatloads of talent from last season, including Wan Kuzain, Max Schneider, and Michael Creek. Aziel Jackson will face his former club after the attacking midfielder was acquired by St Louis CITY SC this offseason.

Two of MLS NEXT Pro’s new boys will square off at Fifth Third Bank Stadium as ATL UTD 2 hosts New York Red Bulls II. 

ATL UTD 2 almost completed its comeback against New England Revolution II but ultimately fell short in a 3-2 loss. Nick Firmino and Raimar found the back of the net for Steve Cooke’s squad and will be joined by Alan Carleton in the three-point fight this Sunday. 

New York Red Bulls II pushed defending MLS NEXT Pro winners Columbus Crew 2 to the brink on Matchday 1 but had to settle for one point in a shootout loss. Wikelman Carmona scored the club’s first MLS NEXT Pro goal last weekend and will be hoping for similar success in Georgia. O’Vonte Mullings is a dangerous threat down the right wing after excelling in 2022 at the USL level.

Colorado Rapids 2 picked up three points at home against Sporting KC II but now hit the road for a tricky test against Houston Dynamo 2. 

Yosuke Hanya and Blake Malone delivered goals for Rapids 2 in a 2-1 comeback win over SKC II and will be two of the leading attackers this weekend. Marlon Vargas excelled for Tacoma Defiance in 2022 and made his Rapids 2 debut on Matchday 1. 

Abraham Rodriguez made five saves to preserve the win.

Dynamo Dos scored first against in-state rivals Austin FC II but ultimately fell in their quest for three points on Matchday 1. Papa N’Doye scored the league’s first goal of the new season following a brilliant finish inside the box. It will be interesting to see if Beto Avila’s ejection on Matchday 1 makes Bundy change the leading the line on Sunday. Avila will not serve his suspension until May, when his team faces Austin FC II because of the red card suspension rule..)

North Texas SC defeated LAFC II on Matchday 1 and will now seek to defeat a California-based club for the second week in a row. 

Bernard Kamungo and Hope Avayevu connected for NTX’s lone goal in a 1-0 victory last week. Kamungo scored 16 goals during the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro campaign, while Avayevu remains one of the club’s top dual-threat options in 2023. 

16-year-old goalkeeper Julian Eyestone made an essential penalty kick save in the final minutes against LAFC II.

LA Galaxy II was shutout 3-0 by Earthquakes II in its MLS NEXT Pro debut, and Marcelo Sarvas will be pushing his squad for a better overall performance on Matchday 2. Galaxy II created six shots on goal on Matchday 1 but might need some luck at home to get the job done and avoid a worrying start to the campaign.

New England Revolution II claimed three points on Matchday 1 against ATL UTD 2 and now returns home to face NYCFC II. 

Clint Peay’s squad raced out to a 3-0 lead against ATL UTD 2 and eventually hung on for their first win of 2023. Damian Rivera and Marcos Dias were two key attackers in 2022 and will be critical of whether the Eastern Conference club can be a real threat.

NYCFC II opens its schedule with a tough test at Gillette Stadium following a Matchday 1 bye week. Matt Pilkington’s squad defeated Revs II twice in 2022 and welcomes back John Denis after a 14-goal haul last season.

A Western Conference clash from Providence Park comes on Sunday night as Timbers2 welcomes Earthquakes II to town. 

Timbers2 fell 2-1 to Cascadia rivals Whitecaps FC II on Sunday, with Noel Caliskan’s powerful striker serving as the lone tally. Caliskan remains a top-scoring threat in the squad, while Josh Penn moved to Portland this offseason. Julian Bravo is one of the keys returning players in defense.

Earthquakes II rolled 3-0 past LA Galaxy II on Matchday 1 and will be confident in making it two wins out of two to start 2023. Ousseni Bouda, Will Richmond, and Martin Kwende Jr celebrated their first-season goals, while goalkeeper Eric De La Cerda registered a six-save clean sheet.

LAFC II suffered a shutout loss in its MLS NEXT Pro debut and will be eager to rebound at home on Sunday. 

Jeremi Rodriguez’s last-gasp penalty opportunity was saved in a 1-0 defeat to North Texas SC. Christopher Jaime is a promising attacking prospect for LAFC II and will lead the attacking options at Titan Stadium. 

Kamron Habibullah registered one goal and one assist for Whitecaps FC II and was joined by Antoine Copeland on the stat sheet. Both Habibullah and Copeland will be among the go-to options for Ricardo Clark’s squad this weekend. Vasco Fry enjoyed a positive 2022 campaign and returns in midfield.

Tacoma Defiance picked up two points on Matchday 1 and now returns home for a Western Conference clash with Real Monarchs. 

Hal Uderitz did it all for Wade Webber’s squad, scoring in regulation and the shootout against St Louis CITY SC. Uderitz is joined by Sounders prospects Danny Leyva and Dylan Tevez in midfield, while goalkeeper Andrew Thomas remains Defiance’s No. 1 goalkeeper.