Matchday Preview

MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 25 Preview


September has arrived and that means each remaining MLS NEXT Pro regular season match is crucial for several of the teams on the bubble of making the playoffs. 

Matchday 25 runs from Friday-Monday through Labor Day Weekend, starting with a four-match slate featuring two matches in each conference. Huntsville City FC visits New England Revolution II in Friday’s headliner before ATL UTD 2 hosts FC Cincinnati 2 in Saturday’s lone match.

Sunday’s heavy slate of matches features Philadelphia Union II’s trip to NYCFC II and Houston Dynamo 2’s hosting of St. Louis CITY2. Monday concludes Matchday 25 with Tacoma Defiance welcoming Timbers2 to Starfire Sports Complex. 

Here is a closer look at the Matchday 25 schedule:

Friday - 9/1

New England Revolution II vs. Huntsville City FC (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Both New England Revolution II and Huntsville City FC will have plenty to play for in Friday’s showdown from Gillette Stadium.

Revs II are still fighting to claim the No. 1 seed in the East, sitting just four points back of conference-leading Crown Legacy FC. Revs II are unbeaten in regulation over their last 10 matches, which recently included a 3-0 road triumph over Philadelphia Union II. Marcos Dias registered a brace in Sunday’s win while Josh Bolma also found the back of the net. Revs II are 7-4-1 on home soil this season through 12 matches played.

Huntsville City FC are sitting in sixth place following Sunday’s 5-4 shootout win over Inter Miami II. Jack Collison’s men have picked up points in six of their last seven matches in league play, falling only once in regulation over that span. Joey Skinner scored twice against Inter Miami II, taking the pressure off of Azaad Liadi and Kemy Amiche for one night.

TFC II vs. New York Red Bulls II (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

TFC II remains fully in the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot heading into a Matchday 25 showdown with New York Red Bulls II. 

Gianni Cimini’s squad have only lost one of their last seven matches in regulation, while also beating Red Bulls II by a 2-1 scoreline back on August 9. Jordan Faria scored on Friday against Crown Legacy FC before TFC II fell 3-1 in a shootout in North Carolina. Despite having the third-fewest goals scored in the East (37), TFC II are only nine points out of seventh place.

New York Red Bulls II have already clinched a playoff berth, but will be seeking a strong ending to the regular season. Three-consecutive victories over Columbus Crew 2, ATL UTD 2, and Chicago Fire II have Ibrahim Sekagya’s squad flying high at the moment heading into their final three matches. Ibrahim Kasule continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenders by taking his goal tally to 15 last weekend. He is tied for second in the Golden Boot race and in great form offensively.

Austin FC II vs. LAFC II (9 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

LAFC II’s playoff hopes might be over but they can still play a spoiler role on Matchday 25. 

A trip to face Austin FC II is next on the list for LAFC II, who are bottom of the Western Conference with 21 points earned. Although they have failed to find the back of the net in their last two matches, many young players will be fighting to leave a positive impression on the coaching staff. LAFC II took Austin FC II to a shootout in their only other meeting this season, falling 4-3 at home. 

Austin FC II has yet to clinch its playoff berth, but could do so with a positive result against LAFC II. A 2-1 home loss on Friday to Sporting KC II was the first in regulation at Parmer Field for Brett Uttley’s squad. Valentin Noel and Sebastien Pineau are tied with six goals apiece for ATX II this season, with both players seeking to lead the way on Friday night.

Real Monarchs vs. Whitecaps FC 2 (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Real Monarchs have earned points in each of their last four league matches and will need to continue that trend to have a shot of making the postseason. 

A 1-0 road victory over LAFC II on Friday was sealed thanks to Axel Kei’s first goal of the 2023 campaign. Kei, 15, remains a top prospect in the Monarchs squad and enjoyed ample minutes during the 2022 season. Jamison Olave will be hoping that Kei might be the spark that helps Monarchs past Whitecaps FC 2 on Friday with only four matches left to play this season.

Whitecaps FC 2 are seven points out of the playoffs with four matches remaining on their schedule. A 1-0 home loss to North Texas SC last Friday continued a worrying run of form for the Canadian club. Ricardo Clark’s men have failed to win any of their last 10 matches in regulation, earning just four points out of 30 available in that span. Whitecaps FC 2 have yet to win in regulation at Real Monarchs in MLS NEXT Pro action, putting added pressure on this weekend’s meeting.

Saturday - 9/2

ATL UTD 2 vs. FC Cincinnati 2 (5 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Two Eastern Conference clubs that need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive will square off in Georgia on Saturday night.

ATL UTD 2 and FC Cincinnati 2 are level on 27 points apiece with four matches remaining respectively. Steve Cooke’s ATL UTD 2 squad have only won one of their last eight matches, conceding three goals or more in five of those eight fixtures. Registering a first clean sheet since June 18 is likely high on the agenda list for ATL UTD 2, knowing FC Cincinnati 2 has scored the second-fewest goals in the East (35). 

FC Cincinnati 2 are also in a do-or-die situation this weekend, but have a bit of confidence under their belts. Recent victories over Philadelphia Union II and NYCFC II will have Tyrone Marshall’s squad ready to go, knowing a third win in their last four matches would keep them alive for postseason play and end ATL UTD 2’s quest. Malik Pinto has scored in two of his last three appearances for the club.

Sunday - 9/3

Inter Miami II vs. Columbus Crew 2 (5 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Defending MLS NEXT Pro Champions Columbus Crew 2 will be seeking a bounce-back performance on Sunday night in Fort Lauderdale. 

Laurent Courtois’ men lost 4-1 at Orlando City B on Sunday and overall have suffered two defeats in their last three matches. Crew 2’s streaky run of form will need fine tuning, especially if they want to be a threat come playoff time. Noah Fuson and Marco Micaletto have 14 combined goals in 2023 and remain a dangerous attacking duo for Crew 2. 

Inter Miami II’s playoff quest might be over, but the opportunity to end the season on a high note remains very much alive. A 5-4 shootout loss to Huntsville City FC continued a winless run of form for Federico Higuain’s squad, who haven’t won in regulation since June 8. Tyler Hall and Cameron Johnson both scored in the shootout defeat in Huntsville.

NYCFC II vs. Philadelphia Union II (5 p.m. ET,

Two Eastern Conference clubs on the outside of the playoff picture will meet on Sunday night. 

NYCFC II hosts Philadelphia Union II sitting three points behind their opponents. A 2-0 defeat at the hands of FC Cincinnati 2 was the third loss out of the past five matches for NYCFC II. Matthew Myers continues to lead the Golden Boot race with 16 goals, but even that might not be good enough for a postseason berth. NYCFC II have lost their last three head-to-head meetings with Union II and overall have only won once in five total matches.

Union II have lost three matches in a row coming into Matchday 25, a worrying sign for Marlon LeBlanc. After a positive start to the summer, losses to FC Cincinnati 2, Huntsville City FC, and New England Revolution II have bumped Union II out of the top-seven in the East. Stefan Stojanovic, Christopher Olney, and Nelson Pierre are among the recent goalscorers for Union II, with one tally apiece during their losing streak.

Houston Dynamo 2 vs. St. Louis CITY2 (6:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV))

A crucial Western Conference clash comes from Texas as Houston Dynamo 2 hosts St. Louis CITY2 in a battle of sixth vs. seventh. 

Dynamo Dos suffered a second-straight defeat on Sunday, falling 4-0 on home soil to LA Galaxy II. The result adds extra pressure on Sunday’s meeting with CITY2, as both teams are level on 37 points apiece. Dynamo Dos have won each of the last two head-to-head meetings with CITY2, including a 3-1 road victory back on April 7. Diego Gonzalez and Papa Ndoye both found the back of the net in that contest.

CITY2 are riding high after extending their regulation unbeaten streak to six matches on Sunday. A 3-1 home triumph over Quakes II featured a brace from 16-year-old Caden Glover and an insurance goal from Faysal Bettache. Bobby Murphy’s squad will be favored to earn a result in Houston on Sunday, especially with form on their side in recent weeks.

Orlando City B vs. Crown Legacy FC (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Fifth meets first in Eastern Conference play as Orlando City B squares off with Crown Legacy FC in Florida. 

OCB have won back-to-back matches heading into Matchday 25, recently downing Columbus Crew 2 by a 4-1 scoreline. Four different players found the back of the net including Shak Mohammed and Jack Lynn, who are growing into a dangerous 1-2 offensive punch. The duo has 20 goals between them in 2023 and will be eager to get after the No. 1 team in the East.

Crown Legacy FC have only lost one of their last matches in regulation, most recently defeating TFC II 3-1 in a shootout last Friday. Jose Tavares’ men are continuing to fly high in the East, sitting in prime position to capture the No. 1 seed. Iuri Tavares scored twice in a 3-2 victory over OCB back on May 5, which was the first head-to-head meeting between the two clubs.

North Texas SC vs. Colorado Rapids 2 (7 p.m. ET,

The pressure will be on North Texas SC if they want to end Matchday 25 with playoff hopes still in mind. 

NTX claimed a 1-0 road victory over Whitecaps FC 2 on Friday thanks to Jose Mulato’s second-half winner. The result kept NTX alive in the West playoff race, but anything less than three points on Sunday against Colorado Rapids 2 will surely eliminate them by weekend’s end. Mulato leads the team with eight goals, but has yet to score against Rapids 2 in five previous meetings.

Antonio Carrera registered a 10-save clean sheet in Friday’s triumph.

Colorado Rapids 2 suffered a shocking 2-0 road loss to Timbers2, which kept Austin FC II and Tacoma Defiance in the hunt for the West’s No. 1 seed. Erik Bushey’s squad are still guaranteed a playoff berth, but ultimately will be hoping to ride some strong form into the postseason. Remi Cabral and Yosuke Hanya have 24 combined goals in 2023, while Oliver Larraz has eight tallies of his own.

LA Galaxy II vs. Sporting KC II (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Sporting KC II could further solidify their playoff status with a road victory over LA Galaxy II.

Benny Feilhaber’s squad have won three matches in a row for the second time in 2023, helping them move eight points clear of eighth place MNUFC2. A 2-1 road triumph over Austin FC II was led by second-half goals from Lucas Rosa and Macielo Tschantret. It marked the first home regulation loss for ATX II this season and the 12th victory for SKC II in 2023.

LA Galaxy II cannot afford any slip ups if they want to sneak their way into a postseason spot. A shootout win over Real Monarchs was followed up by a 4-0 romp over Houston Dynamo 2 on Sunday. Aaron Bibout led the way with a brace, extending his goal tally to 12 on the season. The 18-year-old striker has been a key bright spot for Galaxy II, who hasn’t defeated SKC II in regulation dating back to their USL days.

Earthquakes II vs. MNUFC2 (10 p.m. ET,

Only two points separates Earthquakes II and MNUFC2 heading into Sunday’s showdown at PayPal Park. 

Earthquakes II are above the red line in the West despite falling 3-1 on Sunday to St. Louis CITY2. Regulation victories have been tough for Quakes II this summer, who have only claimed a full three points on three occasions since July 1. Added importance will be on Sunday’s match especially with MNUFC2 needing a positive result of their own. Eduardo Blancas leads the way with eight goals in 2023 for Quakes II. 

MNUFC2 have lost two in a row coming into Matchday 25, suffering defeats to Sporting KC II and Tacoma Defiance, two teams ahead of them in the league standings. Molik Khan and Emmanuel Iwe both found the back of the net on Sunday, but ultimately MNUFC2 will be under pressure to leave California with a road victory. MNUFC2 are 0-3 against Quakes II to date, being outscored 7-2 over that span.

Monday - 9/4

Tacoma Defiance vs. Timbers2 (11 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Matchday 25 concludes with Tacoma Defiance facing off with Timbers2 at Starfire Sports Complex. 

Wade Webber’s side can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with three points in front of their home supporters. The Defiance have only lost one of their previous four league meetings with Timbers2, a 2-0 defeat back in September 2022. A recent 4-2 road victory over MNUFC2 featured goals from Raul Miglietti and Braudilio Rodrigues, who both have been key scoring threats for the club.

Timbers2 have won two of their last four matches, which included a 2-0 triumph over West-leading Colorado Rapids 2 on Sunday. Shannon Murray’s squad are six points out of a playoff spot with four matches left to play. Florian Monzon has scored in two of his last four appearances and overall leads the team with nine tallies on the season.