The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro regular season schedule has about one month to go and that means for many teams it's do or die time in terms of playoff spots.
Friday’s five-match schedule is headlined by MNUFC2’s home clash with Tacoma Defiance as both teams continue their push for playoff berths. Austin FC II also welcomes Sporting KC II to town in another must-watch Western Conference showdown.
Sunday’s heavy slate of matches features Chicago Fire II’s trip to face New York Red Bulls II and St. Louis CITY2’s home clash with Earthquakes II.
Here is a closer look at the Matchday 24 schedule:
Friday - 8/25
Crown Legacy FC vs. TFC II (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Crown Legacy FC have continued to groove this summer and will return home for a Matchday 24 showdown with TFC II.
Jose Tavares’ men defeated Inter Miami II by a 2-1 scoreline on Saturday. Iuri Tavares and Chris Hegardt both found the back of the net in what was Crown Legacy FC’s 16th overall victory in 2023. The expansion side sits five points clear at the top of the East table and will be favored to extend their winning run this Friday.
TFC II have earned at least one point in five of their last six matches and next visit East-leading Crown Legacy FC. Gianni Cimini’s men suffered a 4-1 shootout loss to New England Revolution II on Friday, but overall have shown signs of improvement over recent weeks. TFC II remain eight points out of the final playoff spot and will need Jesus Batiz and Hugo Mbongue to lead the attack in a tough matchup.
MNUFC2 vs. Tacoma Defiance (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
An intriguing Western Conference clash comes from Minnesota as MNUFC2 welcomes Tacoma Defiance to town.
Wade Webber’s squad pegged North Texas SC back twice in Saturday’s eventual 6-5 shootout victory away from home. Abdoulaye Cissoko and Snyder Brunell both found the back of the net for the Defiance, who are sitting in third place on 43 points. While Tacoma has been pretty strong at home, their road record of 3-6-3 could hurt them in terms of playoff seeding by September’s end.
MNUFC2 were blanked by Sporting KC II in Matchday 23 action and will need to be more impactful offensively this weekend at home. The departure of Cameron Dunbar on loan will force others to step up in the MNUFC2 attack, which remains led by Diogo Pacheco and Kameron Lacey. MNUFC2 defeated the Defiance 2-1 in their only other home meeting.
Austin FC II vs. Sporting KC II (9 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Sporting KC II’s two-match winning run will be put to the test on Matchday 24 against Austin FC II.
Benny Feilhaber’s squad shutout MNUFC2 by a 1-0 scoreline on Saturday, remaining in good position to make the postseason. Alenis Vargas continued his hot run of form for SKC II by scoring his fourth goal over his past two appearances. The 19-year-old Honduran international has been important over recent weeks, joining Pau Vidal in the SKC II attacking ranks.
Austin FC II haven’t lost in regulation over their last seven matches, but have dropped points in three of their last five fixtures overall. A 4-3 shootout loss to Whitecaps FC 2 on Sunday was the latest frustrating result for Brett Uttley’s squad, who are now eight points back of Colorado Rapids 2 for the top spot in the West. Valentin Noel was able to find the back of the net in Sunday’s loss, ending his lengthy goalscoring drought for the club.
LAFC II vs. Real Monarchs (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Two Western Conference clubs coming off Matchday 23 losses will meet in California.
LAFC II struggled in a 4-0 road loss to Colorado Rapids 2, a result which has them 15 points back of the final playoff spot. LAFC II will now face off with a Real Monarchs squad knowing anything less than three points will ultimately eliminate them from playoff contention. Yekeson Subah scored the winning goal against Monarchs back in mid-May and remains tied with Leonardo Flores for the team-lead in goals (3).
Real Monarchs have failed to win their last six matches in regulation despite going to shootouts in each of the last three. Jamison Olave’s squad lost 10-9 to LA Galaxy II in a shootout on Saturday despite having the better of the offensive chances. 21-year-old Ilijah Paul has been a bright spot for Monarchs this season and will be the leading attacker to watch for both clubs (five goals in 2023).
Whitecaps FC 2 vs. North Texas SC (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
North Texas SC will be in a must-win situation when they visit Whitecaps FC 2 on Friday night.
A 6-5 shootout loss to Tacoma Defiance on Saturday moved NTX nine points out of the final playoff spot in the West. NTX have only won two matches in regulation since June 1 which is a major reason why they are among several teams below the red line in the Western Conference. Jose Mulato’s seven goals lead the team, but ultimately everyone will need to be ready to score at Swangard Stadium.
Whitecaps FC 2 earned two points on Sunday in a 4-3 shootout win at home over Austin FC II. Mihail Gherasimencov scored a late equalizer for Whitecaps FC 2 before the Canadian club walked away with an important shootout result. Canadian goalkeeper Max Anchor recorded seven saves in the recent win and will be tough for NTX to beat.
Sunday - 8/27
FC Cincinnati 2 vs. NYCFC II (6 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Two Eastern Conference clubs desperately needing three points on Sunday are FC Cincinnati 2 and NYCFC II.
FCC2 suffered a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Columbus Crew 2 and will ultimately need to win to truly keep their playoff hopes alive. Arquimides Ordonez has returned to action, but FCC2 have been inconsistent on both ends of the field this summer. Ordonez leads the team with nine goals and will need to deliver a heroic performance for FCC2 to defeat NYCFC II at home.
NYCFC II enjoyed a bye week over the weekend but now return to action in a crucial match for their playoff hopes. Matt Pilkington’s squad have only earned one regulation victory over their past seven matches, which is why they are outside of the top-seven in the East. Matthew "MD" Myers’ 16 goals has him leading the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot race and he remains a dangerous attacker for NYCFC II this season.
Philadelphia Union II vs. New England Revolution II (6:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
New England Revolution II clinched their playoff berth this past weekend and now prepares to face off with a stingy Philadelphia Union II side away from home.
New England Revolution II men defeated TFC II 4-1 in a shootout on Friday after both teams were unable to find the back of the net in regulation. Revs II are second in the Eastern Conference and can still catch Crown Legacy FC for the top spot in the East. This will mark the sixth regular-season meeting between the two clubs, with Revs II winning three of the prior five matchups.
Philadelphia Union II are still fighting to lock down their playoff spot and will be seeking a bounce-back result in league play. A 5-2 road loss to Huntsville City FC was the second-consecutive defeat for Union II, who are eighth in the East standings. Stefan Stojanovic and Jeremy Rafanello lead a dynamic Union attack and will look to guide Union II to an important home victory.
Houston Dynamo 2 vs. LA Galaxy II (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV))
Houston Dynamo 2 are above the red line in the Western Conference and will need to keep their foot on the gas if they want to end that way.
A 4-3 road loss to Earthquakes II snapped Dynamo Dos’ six-match unbeaten regulation run. Talen Maples scored twice at PayPal Park, but a strong second-half from Quakes II condemned Dynamo Dos to a road defeat. Maples has remained one of the league’s best defenders and has remained key in the squad, alongside Papa Ndoye and Diego Gonzalez.
LA Galaxy II’s playoff hopes will end if they cannot pick up three points away from home. A 10-9 shootout win over Real Monarchs snapped a four-match losing streak, but ultimately Galaxy II will need more if they want to stay alive in the Western Conference. Luckily for Galaxy II, Aaron Bibout is always a goalscoring threat with 10 tallies already to his name.
Huntsville City FC vs. Inter Miami II (7 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
Huntsville City FC rebounded in a big way on Matchday 23 and next welcomes struggling Inter Miami II to Joe Davis Stadium this weekend.
A 5-2 victory over Philadelphia Union II boosted Jack Collison’s squad above the red line in the East this past weekend. Azaad Liadi led the way with a hat trick against 10-men Union II while Kemy Amiche and Joey Skinner also found the back of the net. Liadi has 11 goals in 17 appearances, making him one of the more productive forwards in MLS NEXT Pro.
Inter Miami II’s playoff hopes are over, but Federico Higuain will be hoping his team can end their campaign on a high note. Their last regulation victory came back on June 8 which has ultimately led them to slide down the table this summer. Lawson Sunderland and Nykolas Sessock have been influential in 2023 by sitting No. 1 and No. 2 in minutes played.
New York Red Bulls II vs. Chicago Fire II (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Fourth meets sixth in Eastern Conference play as New York Red Bulls II welcomes Chicago Fire II to MSU Soccer Park.
Red Bulls II enjoyed a bye week for Matchday 23 and will aim to keep the same consistency which has helped them this summer. Ibrahim Kasule has been one of the talented young players in MLS NEXT Pro, contributing 11 goals so far in 2023. Wikelman Carmona and Frank Ssebufu have also been key for Red Bulls II, giving Kasule added help in the attacking third.
Chicago Fire II have earned points in each of their last five matches and will be seeking to extend that streak this weekend. Back-to-back shootout wins over Inter Miami II and NYCFC II have Ludovic Talliander’s squad sitting above the red line in the Eastern Conference. Fire II are ranked sixth in the East in both home and away records, showing why they are one of the more consistent teams this summer.
Orlando City B vs. Columbus Crew 2 (7 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
Orlando City B returns to action this weekend and could use a statement victory to boost their playoff hopes.
Martin Perelman’s squad welcomes Columbus Crew 2 to town in a battle of two of the top five teams in the East. OCB defeated NYCFC II by a 4-3 scoreline in their matchup, which featured multi-goal performances from Shak Mohammed and Jack Lynn. Both Lynn and Mohammed are talented forwards that will be eager to get after an inconsistent Crew 2 backline.
Crew 2 rebounded from their shutout loss by putting five goals past rivals FC Cincinnati 2. A 5-1 home win featured goals from five different Crew 2 players including Noah Fuson, Marco Micaletto, and Isaiah Parente, who all featured in their 2022 title-winning campaign. Crew 2 are unbeaten in regulation over their last three road matches and overall haven’t lost to OCB in head-to-head play.
St. Louis CITY2 vs. Earthquakes II (7 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
St. Louis CITY2 and Earthquakes II both enjoyed Matchday 23 victories and will aim for similar success against one another this weekend.
Bobby Murphy’s CITY2 squad extended their unbeaten run to five matches after defeating Timbers2 by a 4-1 scoreline. Johnny Klein continued his stellar season with a brace after Isak Steiner Jensen and Nolan McGuire both scored the opening tallies for CITY2. Klein leads the team with 12 goals and overall has scored six goals over his last four appearances.
Earthquakes II rebounded from a shutout loss to Austin FC II by holding off Houston Dynamo 2 for a 4-3 home victory. After falling down 3-1 before halftime, Quakes II rallied in the second half to score unanswered goals. Eduardo Blancas delivered the winner with seven minutes to play, giving him seven goals in total for 2023. Quakes II have earned points against CITY2 in two of their three prior regular-season meetings.
Timbers2 vs. Colorado Rapids 2 (10 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
Colorado Rapids 2 might have their playoff spot locked down, but Erik Bushey’s squad are still clicking on all cylinders this summer.
A 4-0 victory over LAFC II moved Rapids 2 to 54 points this season, which are the most in the league so far in 2023. Remi Cabral scored twice while Yosuke Hanya and Blake Malone also found the back of the net once apiece. Rapids 2 have relied on everyone to contribute goals this season, but Hanya and Cabral have 24 tallies between them so far.
Timbers2 have suffered back-to-back lopsided defeats and could see that run extended to three if they aren’t careful on Sunday. A 6-1 loss to Sporting KC II was followed up by a 4-1 defeat at the hands of St. Louis CITY2. Shannon Murray’s squad will now try and limit the best attacking unit in MLS NEXT Pro. Keesean Ferdinand leads the defensive group with over 1,900 minutes played this season.