MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 8 Recap Blitz

Logan Meek

The top rising stars of MLS NEXT Pro shined again in Matchday 8, with surprising results and furthered storylines.

Let's take a look back on the action from Matchday 8:

Columbus Crew 2 (3) - Orlando City B (0)

Four second-half goals made a statement in a Crew 2 win to conclude this competitive Eastern Conference clash. Gio De Libera had a goal and an assist, while Mataeo Bunbury, Clay Holstad and Gibran Rayo also found the net.

Crew 2 pulled three points ahead of OCB with the win. Sunday's shutout highlights Laurent Courtois' side's excellent defending, as the team has allowed only four goals so far in 2023.

Atlanta United 2 (1) - Crown Legacy FC (2)

Marko Filipovic's strike from the right side of the box led Crown Legacy toward another three-point outing and a milestone. Crown Legacy tied the MLS NEXT Pro consecutive wins record with its seventh win in a row.

Vinicius Mello got on the end of a cross in the fourth minute to hand Crown Legacy the early lead. ATL UTD2's Efrain Morales scored the equalizer 40 minutes later.

Crown Legacy, still undefeated through eight games, looks to spoil Huntsville City FC's party next week, taking on HCFC as the new Joe Davis Stadium opens.

Colorado Rapids 2 (1) - Austin FC II (0)

Rapids 2 took its place alone at the top of the Western Conference with a third straight win. Marlon Vargas' powerful strike early in the first half allowed Rapids 2 to seize the lead. Rapids 2 goalkeeper Adam Beaudry made two saves as he protected a clean sheet.

Rapids 2 proved its might in a tough Western Conference clash, leaving Austin FC II without any points in a match for the first time this season.

Inter Miami II (2) - Philadelphia Union II (2) (Union II wins shootout 4-3)

Goals were answered in each half as Inter Miami II pushed Union II to a shootout. Lucas Meek's 81st-minute strike sent the match to a shootout, in which Union II triumphed as goalkeeper Holden Trent made one save in the shootout, and nine more in regulation in a Man of the Match performance.

Meek's equalizing goal answered a Union II goal five minutes earlier from Stefan Stojanovic. Lorenzo D'Agostini opened scoring for Inter Miami II in the 27th minute, followed by a 29th-minute equalizer from Union II's Maike Villero.

Sporting KC II (2) - LA Galaxy II (1)

Pau Vidal scored his sixth goal of the season at the perfect time, with his athletic header at the back post handing Sporting KC II all three points in a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy II.

Galaxy II winger Ruben Ramos opened scoring just 98 seconds into the game with a well-place shot into the top right corner. SKCII equalized in the 72nd minute when Danny Flores sent a volley into the net.

SKCII moves level on 14 points with Whitecaps FC 2 with the win, and can look forward to challenging some of the top-performing teams in the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo 2 (3) - Real Monarchs (0)

Houston Dynamo 2 made a statement in a match between midtable sides in the Western Conference. Roberto Avila, who entered the game in the 14th minute as a substitute, scored a goal and assisted two more goals in one of the standout performances across the league in Matchday 8. The match came with a long delay after the 58th minute because of inclement weather.

Avila opened scoring in the 31st minute by hustling to the ball and stealing it from the opposing goalkeeper for an easy finish. He assisted Djevencio van der Kust's goal in the 45th minute and Diego Gonzalez' goal in the 73rd minute.

Dynamo Dos have now claimed six points from the past three games. Real Monarchs have begun May winless after two matches.

New York Red Bulls II (2) - NYCFC II (0)

New York Red Bulls II scored twice in the space of two minutes to take all three points in this intercity rivalry. First-teamer Elias Manoel converted a penalty kick in the 48th minute to hand Red Bulls II the lead.Β 

Ugandan striker Frank Ssebufu struck a second goal in the 50th minute to seal the win. Red Bulls II piled on the attacking pressure with five shots on goal from 18 total shots.

Red Bulls II moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of NYCFC II, with the win.

TFC 2 (2) - New England Revolution II (3)

Damian Rivera emerged with two goals in two minutes as Revs II completed a three-goal comeback to continue excellent form near the top of the Eastern Conference. Rivera scored in the 84th and 85th minutes.

TFC 2 scored twice in the first half, with an opening goal from Matthew Catavolo off a free kick. Jesus Batiz doubled the lead with a beautiful curling shot.

Revs II improved to third place in the Eastern Conference with the win. Rivera raised his goal tally to five, tying for third-most in the league.

Timbers2 (3) - Whitecaps FC 2 (1)

Timbers2 earned a win at Providence Park over Cascadia rivals Whitecaps FC 2 thanks to a standout performance from Michael Vang, who scored and assisted. Vang's first goal of 2023 came in the 44th minute off an impressive shot that hit the upper right corner of the net.

Victor Griffith converted a penalty kick and Florian Monzon scored off a Vang assist to hand Timbers2 their second win of the season.

Tacoma Defiance (4) - MNUFC2 (4) (Defiance wins shootout 4-2)

One of the most exciting matches so far in 2023 featured an improbable comeback, plus a stoppage-time goal from MNUFC2's Rory O'Driscoll to send the match to a shootout.

Defiance triumphed in the shootout, with MNUFC2 missing the first two spot kicks and Frank Daroma scoring the winning spot kick.

O'Driscoll's last-gasp goal to tie it at 4-4 was his first professional goal. Diogo Pacheco propelled MNUFC2 with a goal and two assists, bringing his goal tally in 2023 to six goals, tied for second in the Golden Boot race. Molin Khan scored his second goal in as many games in the 48th minute, and Emmanuel Iwe brought MNUFC2 up 3-1 in the 55th minute.

Defiance's Raul Miglietti made an instant impact to spur a comeback. Miglietti scored five minutes after entering as a 62nd-minute substitute, and assisted another goal. Antonio Herrera scored a go-ahead goal in the 78th minute.

The two points guide Defiance into third place in the Western Conference, three points behind second-place Austin FC II. MNUFC2 picks up one point, moving into sixth place in the Western Conference.

Friday's Matches

Chicago Fire FC II (1) - Huntsville City FC (1) (Huntsville City FC wins shootout 4-1)

Two penalty kicks left Huntsville City FC and Chicago Fire FC II deadlocked after regulation time. HCFC's Isaiah Johnston scored from the spot in the third minute of first-half stoppage time. Fire II's Harold Osorio equalized in the 56th minute.

HCFC goalkeeper John Berner came up big in the shootout, saving one shot as his side picked up two points.

Earthquakes II (0) - North Texas SC (0) (Earthquakes II wins shootout 5-3)

A battle of excellent goalkeeper showings brought Earthquakes II and North Texas SC to a shootout after regulation. North Texas goalkeeper Julian Eyestone, who made five saves, helped his team reach the shootout in a tough road match.

Earthquakes II goalkeeper Eric de la Cerda, however, came up big in the shootout, stopping Nolan Norris's shot to give his team two points.

Wednesday's Match

LAFC2 (2) - St Louis CITY2 (2) (CITY2 wins shootout 5-3)

CITY2's John Klein scored a brace in the first half, but LAFC2 stormed back with goals in the second half from Ladji Malle and Christian Diaz.

LAFC2 remains winless in 2023, while CITY2 have now picked up seven points from the last four matches.