MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 7 Preview


Matchday 7 of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season gets underway on Friday as several clubs aim for their first three points of May. 

A four-match Friday schedule gets underway in the Eastern Conference as Columbus Crew 2 faces Huntsville City FC and Orlando City B travels to conference-leading Crown Legacy FC. The Western Conference slate features Earthquakes II vs. Sporting KC II and Tacoma Defiance making the trip to Real Monarchs. 

NYCFC II welcomes New England Revolution II to Belson Stadium in Saturday’s lone match before an eight-match schedule gets underway on Sunday. 

MNUFC2 faces Chicago Fire II in the only non-conference matchup in Sunday’s loaded schedule. 

Here is a closer look at the Matchday 7 schedule:

Friday - 5/5

Columbus Crew 2 vs. Huntsville City FC (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Columbus Crew 2 enters Matchday 7 aiming to keep pace with the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

Laurent Courtois’ squad sit third in the East following a 3-2 comeback victory over Inter Miami II on Sunday. Cole Mrowka, Noah Fuson and Mataeo Bunbury all scored their first goals of 2023 with Bunbury playing the hero with a game-winning finish in the final minutes. 

Huntsville City FC are still seeking their first regulation victory in MLS NEXT Pro after failing to win any of their opening five league matches. Jack Collison’s squad should be well rested after a Matchday 6 bye week and will be fighting to earn their first clean sheet of the campaign. 

Danny Griffin leads the team with 11 interceptions and is among the top five Huntsville City FC players in duels (39).

Crown Legacy FC vs. Orlando City B (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

A mouthwatering top-two showdown comes from Mecklenburg County Sportsplex with Crown Legacy FC hosting Orlando City B. 

Jose Tavares’ squad are riding a five-match winning streak heading into Matchday 7, sitting top of the East with 16 points. Crown Legacy FC have outscored their opponents 13-3 over that span, using goals from nine different players. 

Brandon Cambridge and Iuri Tavares are tied for the club lead with three goals apiece. 

Orlando City B have only suffered one loss in 2023, falling to ATL UTD 2 by a 3-1 scoreline on April 16. Back-to-back results against NYCFC II and TFC II have helped OCB get back on track with four different players finding the back of the net in recent weeks. 

Moises Tablante and Alex Freeman have been two of the standout stars for OCB so far in 2023.

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

Sixth meets tenth in the Western Conference on Friday as Earthquakes II host Sporting KC II at PayPal Park. 

Daniel De Geer’s Quakes II squad snapped a two-match losing streak on Sunday after grinding out a late 1-0 victory over LAFC2. Eduardo Blancas’ 82nd minute winner was all Quakes II needed to get back on track after a few hiccups in April. 

Sporting KC II’s positive run of form has disappeared in recent weeks as Benny Feilhaber’s squad have lost their last two matches. A 3-2 road defeat to FC Cincinnati 2 paired with last week’s 4-1 loss to Houston Dynamo 2 will put pressure on SKC II to get anything they can from a trip to San Jose. 

Pau Vidal’s five goals lead SKC II, while six different players have also contributed one goal apiece.

Real Monarchs vs. Tacoma Defiance (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Two of the in-form Western Conference clubs meet in Friday’s final match of the night. 

Real Monarchs have won back-to-back matches for the first time in 2023 and will be confident in taking on third-place Tacoma Defiance. Jamison Olave’s squad used a second-half comeback to blitz Timbers2 by a 5-1 scoreline on Matchday 6. 

U.S. youth national team attacker Diego Luna scored twice while Tyrone Mondi and Terron Williams added their first goals of the season. 

Tacoma Defiance have won three of their last four matches, including a 5-0 victory over Real Monarchs back on April 2. Wade Webber’s squad have relied on Hal Uderitz’s four goals so far this season, while Abdoulaye Cissoko has contributed three tallies of his own. 

Both scored in their first meeting with Monarchs and will be eager to continue that trend on Friday.

Saturday - 5/6

NYCFC II vs. New England Revolution II (5 p.m. ET,

NYCFC II fell in their opening match of the season to New England Revolution II and revenge will be on their minds coming into Saturday’s second head-to-head meeting. 

Matt Pilkington’s squad are coming off a 4-1 home loss to Crown Legacy FC on Sunday and overall haven’t won either of their last two matches. John Denis and Matthew Meyrs will be tasked with turning things around offensively as the duo has accounted for half of NYCFC II’s goals so far in 2023. 

New England Revolution II sit three points ahead of their Matchday 7 opponents despite taking only one point from their last three matches combined. A thrilling 5-5 result on Matchday 6 against FC Cincinnati 2 featured braces from Damian Rivera and Marcos Dias as Clint Peay’s squad scored their most goals in a single match so far. 

Both Rivera and Dias will headline the attack once again as Revs II seeks a second-consecutive victory over NYCFC II.

Sunday - 5/7

Inter Miami II vs. ATL UTD 2 (6:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

ATL UTD 2 will put their three-match winning streak on the line against Inter Miami II on Sunday. 

Steve Cooke’s squad have registered clean sheets in each of their last two wins, using the strong play of 19-year-old goalkeeper Vicente Reyes. Reyes is among the league-leaders in clean sheets (2) and saves (21) through the opening weeks of the new season. 

Nicolas Firmino’s five goals scored have also been key to ATL UTD 2’s positive run of form.

Inter Miami II will be seeking their second-straight home win after falling short on the road at Columbus Crew 2 last Sunday. Lawson Sunderland and Cameron Johnson added their names to the growing statsheet for Federico Higuain’s side after both scored their first goals of 2023. 

A total of nine players have found the back of the net for Inter Miami II so far.

TFC II vs. FC Cincinnati 2 (7 p.m. ET,

FC Cincinnati 2 has earned at least one point in each of their last three matches and will be confident in extending that streak against TFC II on Sunday.

Arquimides Ordonez’s six goals have him ranked first in the Golden Boot race while Kai Thomas has scored in each of his last two appearances for FCC2. Tyrone Marshall’s defense will need to buckle down though after conceding two goals or more in each of their opening five matches this season. 

TFC II are still seeking their first victory of 2023, but things have improved for the Canadian club. Gianni Cimini’s squad have scored two goals or more in recent performances against Philadelphia Union II and Orlando City B. 

Hugo Mbongue and Jesus Batiz have two goals apiece this season and have been recent bright spots in the final third.

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

New York Red Bulls II squares off with Philadelphia Union II on Sunday in the first of three regular season meetings. 

Red Bulls II are riding a three-match unbeaten run coming into Matchday 7, recently edging Chicago Fire II 3-0 in a shootout following a goal-less 90 minutes at SeatGeek Stadium. AJ Marcucci has registered three-consecutive clean sheets in between the posts while defender O’Vante Mullings (495 minutes played) has been crucial on the back end. 

Philadelphia Union II have only one victory in 2023 and Marlon LeBlanc’s squad will be seeking to change that as MSU Soccer Park this weekend. 

Conceding goals has been an issue for Union II, who have allowed 16 through six matches. U.S. youth national team centerback Brandan Craig will be one to watch this weekend as he leads the backline against a dynamic Red Bulls II attack.

Timbers2 vs. Austin FC II (8 p.m. ET,

Austin FC’s unbeaten run continues on Matchday 7 with a road trip to Timbers2 on Sunday night. 

Back-to-back shootouts have dropped Austin FC II to second in the Western Conference, but Brett Uttley’s squad have yet to lose in regulation in 2023. However, Austin FC II are still seeking their first road win of the season after going to shootouts with Sporting KC II and LA Galaxy II so far. 

Valentin Noël leads the team with four goals while Emmanuel Johnson and Bobosi Byaruhanga have added their names to the goalscoring list in recent weeks.  

Timbers2 will have a heavy task on their hands after conceding five goals to Real Monarchs on Matchday 6. A first-half goal from Tega Ikoba was the lone bright spot for Timbers2 last week as Ikoba became the fourth player to score for the club in 2023. 

Keesean Ferdinand will lead Timbers2’s defensive options against a lively Austin FC II attack.

LA Galaxy II vs. Colorado Rapids 2 (8 p.m. ET,

Colorado Rapids 2 also aims to remain unbeaten this week with a trip to LA Galaxy II on Sunday. 

Erik Bushey’s squad jumped to No. 1 in the recent MLS NEXT Pro Power Rankings after a 4-2 comeback victory over North Texas SC last weekend. Blake Malone and Yosuke Hanya led the comeback attempt before Oliver Larraz’s winner and Logan Batiste’s insurance tally padded a fifth win of the season. 

Hanya has five goals in five appearances for Rapids 2 this year. 

LA Galaxy II fell on the road against Tacoma Defiance and won’t have an easy turnaround against Rapids 2. Galaxy II have struggled in the final third, scoring only seven goals in six matches, and only three outside of a 4-3 victory over Whitecaps FC II on April 16. 

Aaron Bibout leads the attacking options with four goals for Galaxy II, but more will be needed to test a stubborn Rapids 2 backline.

MNUFC 2 vs. Chicago Fire II (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

The only non-conference matchup this weekend pits MNUFC2 against Chicago Fire II on Sunday night. 

MNUFC2 has continued to slide down the West standings after failing to win any of their last three matches. Diogo Pacheco scored his fifth goal of the season on Matchday 6, but MNUFC2 couldn’t hang on in an eventual shootout loss to Austin FC II. 

Pacheco will seek help from his attacking teammates including Patrick Weah and Juan Mosquera. 

Chicago Fire II have only earned one point from their last four matches, scoring just one goal over that span. Ludovic Taillandier’s squad will be hoping to turn the tide against a MNUFC2 squad also struggling for points lately. 

Luka Prpa (419 minutes played, three assists) and Justin Reynolds (402 minutes played) have been two of Fire II’s consistent players so far in 2023.

North Texas SC vs. St. Louis CITY2 (8:30 p.m. ET,

Only three points separate North Texas SC and St. Louis CITY SC in the Western Conference standings heading into Matchday 7. 

NTX have only won one of their last five league matches, falling to Real Monarchs and Colorado Rapids 2 in recent weeks. Hope Avayevu scored his first brace of the 2023 campaign against Rapids 2 and will be seeking more of the same result against an inconsistent CITY2 backline. 

St. Louis CITY2 have earned five points out of their last six available, most recently defeating Whitecaps FC 2 by a 2-1 scoreline last Sunday. Faysal Bettache and Sergio Rivas both scored their first goals of the season, giving head coach Bobby Murphy two new options to rely on. 

However, more will be expected out of attacking midfielders Max Schneider and Wan Kuzain if CITY2 wants to continue moving up the West standings.

Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (9 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Two Western Conference clubs coming off opposite Matchday 6 results will meet from Swangard Stadium to close out Sunday’s slate. 

Whitecaps FC 2 suffered a 2-1 road loss to St. Louis CITY2, which dropped them to fourth in the conference standings. Giovanni Aguillar has been a top dual-threat for Whitecaps FC 2, leading the team in minutes played (539), scoring two goals, and registering one assist. 

Houston Dynamo 2 scored their most goals in a single game this season, putting four past Sporting KC II in a 4-1 road victory. Diego Gonzalez and Papa Ndoye helped erase an early first-half deficit before Yair Gonzalez and Isaiah Reid added second-half goals of their own. 

Kenny Bundy will be hoping Sunday’s lopsided win will spark Dynamo Dos up the table.