MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 8 Weekend Preview

Wednesday kicked off MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 8 with a 2-2 thriller that resulted in St Louis CITY2 edging LAFC2 in a shootout. 

The action rages on with a weekend slate headlined by a top-two Western Conference showdown between a pair of the league’s impressive squads so far.

Colorado Rapids 2 locks horns with Austin FC II on Sunday. Both teams are deadlocked on 19 points apiece and will be hoping to end the weekend atop the conference after the first head-to-head meeting this season.

The action gets underway on Friday with Chicago Fire II and Huntsville City FC both seeking a bounce-back victory. Earthquakes II also meet North Texas SC later that night. 

Here is a closer look at the Matchday 8 schedule:

Friday, May 12

Chicago Fire II vs. Huntsville City FC (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Friday’s two-match slate gets underway from SeatGeek Stadium with two Eastern Conference clubs desperately needing a victory. 

Chicago Fire II have failed to win any of their last five matches, despite heading to shootouts in each of their last two. Fire II held a 3-2 lead last week against MNUFC2 before an Eric Leonard own goal forced a shootout between the two clubs. 

Omari Glasgow and Billy Hency will be among the players to watch after scoring last Sunday.

Huntsville City FC are still seeking their first regulation victory in MLS NEXT Pro, and hopes to find winning ways before their big home opener in Matchday 9.

Jonathan Bolanos and Kemy Amiche have been two of the lively attackers for the expansion side this season.

Earthquakes II vs. North Texas SC (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Two Western Conference clubs coming off opposite results on Matchday 7 will meet at PayPal Park on Friday night.

Earthquakes II fell 2-1 against Sporting KC II last weekend and overall have lost three of their last five matches. Daniel De Geer’s squad have only scored four goals over that span, something that will need to change to move up the West standings. Eduardo Blancas leads Quakes II with two goals in 2023.

North Texas SC rebounded from back-to-back defeats on Sunday by using a second-half surge to defeat St. Louis CITY2 by a 4-1 scoreline. Jose Mulato scored a brace for NTX while Hope Avayevu and Herbert Endeley also celebrated goals of their own. Mulato and Avayevu are NTX’s top attacking threats and will be eager to get after a struggling Quakes II backline.

Sunday, May 14

Columbus Crew 2 vs. Orlando City B (2 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Second meets third in Eastern Conference play on Sunday as Orlando City B visits Columbus Crew 2.

The defending MLS NEXT Pro winners are riding a two-match winning streak and overall have only suffered one loss in 2023. Marco Micaletto’s second goal of the season was enough to lead Crew 2 past Huntsville City FC 1-0 last weekend. 

Stanislav Lapkes has only conceded three goals in four starts in net, and excelled on Matchday 7 with a six-save performance. 

Orlando City B fought valiantly in a Matchday 7 trip to Crown Legacy FC, but ultimately fell just short in a 3-2 loss. Martin Perelman’s squad will need to show a short memory if they want to get back on track against Crew 2 this weekend. 

Five different players have contributed goals for OCB this season, including U.S. youth national team defender Alex Freeman, who leads the team with three tallies so far.

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

Two of MLS NEXT Pro’s top-scoring threats will meet on Sunday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. 

Nicholas Firmino has been stellar for ATL UTD 2 this season, contributing five goals so far. The Brazilian forward will be up for the challenge on Sunday with East-leading Crown Legacy FC coming to town. Firmino has the ability to win matches on his own, but will likely need some help if ATL UTD 2 wants to rebound from a Matchday 7 loss.

Crown Legacy FC puts its unbeaten start on the line with hopes of extending their winning run to seven matches. Jose Tavares has watched his side score two goals or more in six of their seven matches to date, a testament to the club’s attacking depth and ability to find new ways to win. 

Iuri Tavaves has five goals of his own this season and will be poised to steal the show against Firmino and Co.

Colorado Rapids 2 vs. Austin FC II (6 p.m. ET,

Not much has separated Colorado Rapids 2 and Austin FC II so far in 2023. 

Colorado Rapids 2 leads the Western Conference with 19 points, six victories, and a +13 goal differential. Erik Bushey’s squad has certainly relied on Yosuke Hanya’s seven goals so far, but others have also stepped up in recent weeks to join Hanya in finding the back of the net. Oliver Larraz has one goal and three assists, continuing to be one of Rapids 2’s top playmaking threats alongside Hanya.

Daniel Garcia scored his first goal of the season on Sunday shortly after being subbed in, and grabbed MLS Next Rising Star of the Matchday honors.  

Austin FC II has yet to lose in regulation this season, recently defeating Timbers2 by a 1-0 scoreline on Matchday 7. David Rodriguez’s second goal of the campaign was all Brett Uttley’s squad needed to rebound from back-to-back shootout results. 

Damian Las has been key in goal for Austin FC II, registering a 0.63 goals-against-average (GAA), three clean sheets, and 24 saves to date.

Inter Miami II vs. Philadelphia Union II (6 p.m. ET,

Philadelphia Union II heads to Florida this weekend for an Eastern Conference clash with Inter Miami II. 

Marlon LeBlanc’s squad used a brace from 18-year-old Nelson Pierre to lead Union II past New York Red Bulls II 2-1. Pierre is a promising offensive talent in the Union’s system and will continue to garner first-team interest if he can find the back of the net on a regular basis. 

Stefan Stojanovic also has two goals of his own in 2023. 

Inter Miami II overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat ATL UTD 2 by a 3-2 scoreline last weekend. Lucas Meek and an Aidan McFadden own goal tied things up for Federico Higuain’s squad before Miles Perkovich’s 88th-minute winner capped off a dramatic comeback. 

Inter Miami II failed to defeat Union II in their two home meetings last season but will have revenge on their minds this time around.

Sporting KC II vs. LA Galaxy II (6 p.m. ET,

Sporting KC II snapped their two-match losing streak on Matchday 7 and will be eager to extend that winning run against LA Galaxy II.

SKC II used goals from Andrew Draper and Jack Coan to defeat Earthquakes II 2-1 last Friday, moving into seventh place in the West standings. Goals haven’t been an issue for Benny Feilhaber’s squad, but conceding goals has been a major worry. SKC II have conceded 12 goals through seven matches, which is a reason why they are +1 on goal differential so far.

LA Galaxy II suffered a tough 5-0 loss by Colorado Rapids 2 on Matchday 7, continuing an up-and-down start to 2023. Back-to-back defeats against Tacoma Defiance and Rapids 2 have Galaxy II with little confidence, but a trip to SKC II is certainly a winnable match. 

Aaron Bibout has accounted for four of Galaxy II’s seven league goals in 2023.

Houston Dynamo 2 vs. Real Monarchs (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Only one point separates Houston Dynamo 2 and Real Monarchs heading into Sunday’s Western Conference clash from SaberCats Stadium. 

Dynamo Dos lost 1-0 to Whitecaps FC 2 on Matchday 7, a result which moved them back a step after a 4-1 victory against Sporting KC II. Papa Ndoye leads the team offensively with three goals while defender Talen Maples has totaled 630 minutes in the backline so far.

Both will be key on whether Dynamo Dos can down Real Monarchs this weekend. 

Real Monarchs’ 15 goals conceded so far is a worrying sign for Jamison Olave’s squad regardless if they have three wins from their past five matches. A 2-1 loss to Tacoma Defiance on Matchday 7 ended Monarchs’ early-season hopes of a three-match winning streak.

Diego Luna has been a recent livewire in attack though, scoring two goals and adding one assist so far this season.

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

The Hudson River Derby moves to MLS NEXT Pro on Sunday with New York Red Bulls II hosting NYCFC II for the first time. 

NYCFC II comes into the rivalry showdown off the back of a 4-2 victory over New England Revolution II. Nico Benalcazar scored two late penalty kick goals to help Matt Pilkington’s squad turn things around against Revs II last weekend. Matthew Meyrs and John Denis also added their third respective goals of the season in the important result. 

New York Red Bulls II fell 2-1 to Philadelphia Union II on Matchday 7 and will have hopes of a bounce-back performance at MSU Soccer Park. Goals have been hard to come by for Red Bulls II in recent weeks, as the Eastern Conference club has only tallied four in the past five matches. 

Wikelman Carmona’s recent minutes with the first team mean others will need to step up if he's on his way to making consistent Matchdays in MLS.

TFC II vs. New England Revolution II (7 p.m. ET,

TFC II’s wait to taste victory came to an end last weekend and now the goal for Gianni Cimini’s men will be looking to start a winning streak this Sunday.

A 3-0 shutout result over FC Cincinnati 2 helped TFC II gain some much-needed confidence to start the month of May. Jordan Faria scored two first-half goals for TFC II before Hugo Mbongue added a third tally for good measure. 

Luka Gavran registered his first clean sheet of 2023 for TFC II as well.

Three defeats in the past four matches for New England Revolution II won’t have confidence high for Clint Peay’s squad heading to York Lions Stadium this weekend. Revs II coughed up a result against NYCFC II on Matchday 7 and will be doing everything they can to play a full 90 minutes this weekend. 

Marcos Dias has four goals scored in his last two appearances, while Damian Rivera and Jordan Adebayo-Smith also are talented weapons up front.

Timbers2 vs. Whitecaps FC 2 (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Timbers2 has yet to defeat Whitecaps FC 2 in regulation, but that could very well change on Sunday night at Providence Park. 

Timbers2 will be seeking to end a two-match losing streak, which recently involved a slim 1-0 loss to Austin FC II last weekend. Julian Bravo and Keesean Ferdinand are the only Timbers2 players to play every minute so far in 2023 and are two key defenders for the club. 

Whitecaps FC 2 have alternated results in each of their opening seven matches in 2023, earning their first shutout of the season last weekend against Houston Dynamo 2. J.C. Ngando became the 10th Whitecaps FC 2 player to score a goal this season while goalkeeper Issac Boehmer registered a four-save clean sheet.

Tacoma Defiance vs. MNUFC2 (11 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro)

Sunday’s final match comes from Starfire Sports Complex as Tacoma Defiance hosts MNUFC in a top-six Western Conference clash. 

Wade Webber’s side is grooving right now, winning three-straight matches and continuing to move up the Western standings. Hal Uderitz and Braudilio Rodriguez have two goals apiece in the last three matches while the Defiance have used comebacks recently against Houston Dynamo 2 and Real Monarchs.

Andrew Thomas has been key in net, conceding only five goals in five starts. 

MNUFC2 have forced shootouts in each of their last two matches but ultimately will need to find winning ways once again to move up the standings. Back-to-back results against Austin FC II and Chicago Fire II have MNUFC2 sitting sixth in the table, but still without a regulation win since April 9. 

Patrick Weah and Molik Khan have joined Diogo Pacheco in the scoring ranks over recent weeks and will be pushing to continue that trend on Sunday.