MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 5 Recap Blitz


Matchday 5 of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season featured matches throughout the weekend, with several teams claiming important results.

Let's recap all of Saturday's and Sunday's Matchday 5 action.

Crown Legacy FC (1) - Columbus Crew 2 (0)

Crown Legacy FC claimed its most impressive win of the MLS NEXT Pro season on Sunday after shutting out the defending league champions Columbus Crew 2 on home soil.

Patrick Agyemang’s first-half goal was all Jose Tavares’ squad needed to pick up a 1-0 result and remain unbeaten in 2023. Pablo Sisniega registered a three-save clean sheet, which also included a

Agyemang rattled the crossbar in the opening minutes before celebrating his first league goal not long after. Hamady Diop’s pass allowed Agyemang to cut onto his right foot in the box before delivering a low drive into the bottom-right corner.

Crew 2 had a golden opportunity to tie things up in the second half after Jordan Knight was hacked down in the box by Jack Neeley. However, the visitors could not take advantage of the spot kick chance as Marco Micaletto’s shot was denied by Sisniega on his left-hand side. 

Sisniega also denied Brent Adu-Gyamfi and Gibran Rayo in the dying moments of the match to seal Crown Legacy’s fourth victory of 2023.

Philadelphia Union II (3) - TFC II (3) (Union II wins 5-4 in shootout)

Philadelphia Union II coughed up a two-goal advantage at Subaru Park against TFC II, but eventually used a late equalizer paired with a 5-4 shootout result to pick up two points at home.

Marlon LeBlanc’s squad struck twice in the opening 14 minutes as Jeremy Rafanello and Jose Riasco scored one-minute apart to give Union II a 2-0 advantage. Rafanello’s right-footed strike broke the deadlock from Chester before Chris Donovan set up Riasco for his first goal of the new season.

After setting up Mbongue’s tying goal, Jesus Batiz stepped up from the penalty spot and scored in the 74th minute to propel TFC II in front 3-2. Anton Sorenson was whistled for the foul in the box after Themi Antonoglou drew the spot kick opportunity. 

However, TFC II could not hang on as Stefan Stojanovic’s long range shot nestled in the back of the net for a 3-3 equalizer. Brandan Craig’s upfield ball led to Tomas Romero racing off his line for TFC II, but the former Union academy product could not beat Stojanovic to the pass. 

Both teams successfully scored on their opening four spot kicks of the shootout before Holden Trent dove to his right to deny Kosi Thompson’s fifth round shot. Richard Odada sealed the comeback result for Union II by scoring down the middle of the TFC II net.

Colorado Rapids 2 (0) - St. Louis CITY2 (0) (CITY2 wins 5-4 in shootout)

St. Louis CITY2 ended its three-match losing streak on Sunday by edging Colorado Rapids 2 by a 5-4 shootout scoreline.

Oliver Larraz’s 22nd minute header attempt was denied by CITY2 goalkeeper Christian Olivares before Daouda Amadou’s effort was also repelled by the 21-year-old shot-stopper.

Marko Ilic became busy in the second half as the Serbian denied Max Schneider’s long-range strike in the 56th minute. Owen O’Malley was also kept out by Ilic on the ensuing restart.

Amadou came closest to scoring a winning goal for Rapids 2, hitting the crossbar with a right-footed screamer in stoppage time.

Olivares dove to his left to punch away Caique’s spot kick but Ilic was also up to the task, denying O’Malley’s effort. Rapids 2 had a great opportunity to take advantage but Connor Miller skied his attempt ahead of Mykhi Joyner’s clinching spot kick.

Rapids 2 remain second in the West while CITY2 are in 13th.

Inter Miami II (4) - Huntsville City FC (3)

Inter Miami II faced an early deficit at DRV PNK Stadium against Huntsville City FC, but Federico Higuain’s squad battled back to defeat the expansion side 4-3.

Cezar Reda and Dairon Reyes scored 11 minutes apart in the second half to swing momentum in Inter Miami II’s favor after the hosts overcame a two-goal deficit.

The first half belonged to Huntsville City FC as Jonathan Bolanos and Shaun Joash scored eight minutes apart for a 2-0 advantage. Bolanos’ cool right-footed strike set the tone for Jack Collison’s squad before Joash capped off a brilliant fast break in the 33rd minute.

Lorenzo D’Agostini pulled one goal back for Inter Miami II in the 38th minute before Jack LaCava’s first goal of the season tied things up prior to halftime.

Cesar Abadia-Reda’s long-range strike in the 64th minute propelled Inter Miami II in front 3-2 only seconds after the attacker came onto the field. Dairon Reyes’ penalty kick 11 minutes later would ice the victory for Inter Miami II.

Kemy Amiche added a consolation goal in stoppage time for Huntsville City FC.

FC Cincinnati 2 (3) - Sporting KC 2 (2)

FC Cincinnati 2 overcame an early deficit to earn their second win of 2023, a 3-2 result over Sporting KC II.

Ben Stitz and Jesus Castellano helped flip the script for Tyrone Marshall’s squad following Pau Vidal’s fourth-minute opener for SKC II. Gerardo Valenzuela played Stitz in for his first goal of 2023 before Castellano drilled a right-footed shot into the top-right corner before halftime.

Kai Thomas’ close-range finish in the 53rd minute gave FCC2 some breathing room at 3-1, but SKC II would not lie down as Macielo Tschantret’s close-range finish in the 63rd minute cut the deficit for SKC II.

However, FCC2 would hang on as Evan Lauro finished with seven saves to preserve the home victory.

Orlando City B (2) - NYCFC II (2) (Orlando City B wins 8-7 in shootout)

Orlando City B rebounded from a Matchday 4 loss to edge NYCFC II 8-7 in a shootout after the two teams finished level 2-2 through 90 minutes.

Nabi Kibunguchy scored twice for OCB to register his first goals for the Eastern Conference club. John Denis’ missed penalty kick late in the second half ruined NYCFC II’s chances of picking up all three points.

Kibunguchy’s pair of headed goals five minutes apart boosted Orlando City B in front 2-0. The 25-year-old’s opening goal came in the 21st minute before the centerback finished off Cristian Medina’s cross into the top-left corner.

Samuel Owusu’s right-footed strike in first-half stoppage time helped NYCFC II cut the deficit to 2-1.

Owusu was sent off in the 74th minute for a second yellow card offense, but it didn’t stop Matt Pilkington’s squad from tying things up. Nico Benalcazar’s header off a set piece situation made it 2-2 as NYCFC drew level. Shak Mohammed was sent off for OCB just four minutes later and NYCFC II almost flipped the match in their favor. However, John Denis’ missed his penalty-kick opportunity in the 88th minute which would’ve given the visitors all three points.

Christian McFarlane’s eighth-round spot kick was saved by Javier Otero, sealing two points for OCB.

Houston Dynamo 2 (1) - Tacoma Defiance (2)

Tacoma Defiance had a comeback of their own in Houston, battling back with two second-half goals to defeat Houston Dynamo 2 by a 2-1 scoreline.

Hal Uderitz’s penalty-kick finish in the 70th minute tied things up for Wade Webber’s squad before Raul Migiletti’s 90th minute winner helped Defiance claim their second win of 2023.

Beto Avila’s 48th minute penalty-kick goal propelled Dynamo Dos in front after a scoreless first half. Avila stepped up and rifled his right-footed shot into the top-right corner for a 1-0 Houston lead.

However, the Defiance tied things up as Uderitz’s penalty-kick goal made it 1-1 after Isaiah LeFlore was sent off for a second yellow card offense. LeFlore brought down Paul Rothrock in the box and Uderitz made Dynamo Dos pay with his second goal of the season.

With both teams pushing for a winning goal, Migiletti’s top-shelf finish in stoppage time clinched the comeback victory. Andrew Pannenberg did his best to repel Tacoma’s cross in the box, but a deflection landed at Migiletti’s feet for a simple finish.

The Defiance sit three points clear of Dynamo Dos following the road win.

Timbers2 (2) - LAFC2 (0)

Timbers2 earned their first victory of 2023 after shutting out LAFC2 by 2-0 at Providence Park. Selmir Miscic and Noel Caliskan each scored goals for Timbers2 while goalkeeper Ryan Bilichuk excelled with seven saves to earn his first clean sheet of the season.

Miscic’s free kick finish in the 32nd minute boosted Timbers2 in front after the 20-year-old celebrated a wonderfully-taken effort. Bilichuk made four first-half saves as LAFC2 continued to pile on the pressure for an equalizing goal.

Timbers2 extended their lead to 2-0 in the 66th minute as Caliskan pounced on a loose ball in the box. Keesean Ferdinand missed his right-footed shot but his shot-turned-pass allowed Caliskan to slam home the goal from close range.

Timbers 2 hung on for not only their first win of 2023, but their first clean sheet while LAFC2 remained winless on the year.

LA Galaxy II (1) - Austin FC II (1) (LA Galaxy II wins 5-4 in shootout)

LA Galaxy II earned multiple points for the second-consecutive week after edging Austin FC II 2-1 in a shoutout on Sunday.

Simon Jillson made four saves including one key stop in the shootout on Salvatore Mazzaferro while Axel Picazo scored his first goal of the season for Galaxy II.

Austin FC II struck first as Bobosi Byaruhanga’s close-range finish boosted Brett Uttley’s squad in front 1-0. Micah Burton’s original effort was saved, but Byaruhanga arrived on the scene to score his first goal of the season.

LA Galaxy equalized before halftime as Axel Picazo received a cross from Jonathan Perez before drilling a low shot into the bottom-right corner.

Both teams had good offensive opportunities in the second half to steal a winning goal, but none were closer than Perez’s stoppage time shot. Perez was played in towards goal following a fast break but watched as his left-footed shot hit the crossbar and went out to keep the sides level at 1-1.

Byaruhanga hit the crossbar in the shootout but Adam Saldana’s miss for Galaxy II kept Austin FC II alive for another round. However, Jillson’s diving stop gave Galaxy II the momentum and Elijah Amadin made no mistake in slotting home on his opportunity.

Austin FC II remains top of the Western Conference with 14 points while Galaxy II are up to 11th place with five points earned.

Whitecaps FC 2 (5) - MNUFC2 (2)

Matchday 5 concluded with a rainy affair at Swangard Stadium where Whitecaps FC 2 overcame an early deficit to earn their third win of the campaign with a 3-2 victory over MNUFC2.

MNUFC2 would strike first thanks to a Patrick Weah goal in the 16th minute. WCFC2 would then score two consecutive goals, from Levonte Johnson and Lucas Dasovic respectively, to take lead. The visitor's responded right before halftime thanks to a Diogo Pacheco set-piece goal to head into the break at two a piece.

Ricardo Clark's side would come out determined to snag the three points putting heavy pressure on the MNUFC2 defense from the start of the second half. Their persistence on the offensive end would pay off when WCFC2 earned a penalty kick in the 51st minute. 23-year-old Déiber Caicedo would step up to the mark and score WCFC2's third goal of the night after a blasting the ball into the back of the net to give WCFC2 the 3-2 lead.

The home side would go on to score two more times, another goal from Levonte Johnson and one from Jay Joshua Herdman, en route to a 5-2 victory, their third of 2023.

After today's result, Whitecaps FC 2 and MNUFC2 are in third and fourth place respectively in the Western Conference.

Saturday’s Scores

ATL UTD 2 (2) - Chicago Fire II (0)

Nicolas Firmino has led the way for ATL UTD 2 so far in 2023 and the Brazilian forward’s contributions continued Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Firmino scored twice as Steve Cooke’s squad defeated visiting Chicago Fire II by a 2-0 scoreline. The 24-year-old now has five goals scored this season as ATL UTD 2 claimed back-to-back victories for the first time in MLS NEXT Pro. 

Firmino needed only 10 minutes to break the deadlock, sending Luke Brennan’s headed pass down the middle of the Fire II net. 

Fire II had ample opportunities to get back into the match, but ATL UTD 2 goalkeeper Vicente Reyes was stellar to keep the hosts in front. The 19-year-old registered a seven-save clean sheet before Firmino iced the result with six minutes to play. 

Erik Lopez’s cross was headed home by the in-form Firmino, capping off a second home win for ATL UTD 2.

Friday’s Results:

New England Revolution II (0) - New York Red Bulls II (1)

North Texas SC (0) - Real Monarchs (1)