Matchday 9 will feature plenty of MLS NEXT Pro’s growing rivalries with plenty of points to prove in both conferences.
Friday’s three-match slate gets underway with Orlando City B hosting ATL UTD 2 in Eastern Conference play. East-leading Crown Legacy FC makes the trip to Huntsville City FC later that night before Austin FC II hosts Earthquakes II in the lone Western Conference showdown of Friday’s schedule.
Sunday’s heavy slate is headlined by a Texas Derby between North Texas SC and Houston Dynamo 2, as well as a top-four clash between Tacoma Defiance and Whitecaps FC 2.
Here is a closer look at the Matchday 9 schedule:
Friday - 5/19
Orlando City B vs. ATL UTD 2 (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
ATL UTD 2 already handed Orlando City B a 3-1 defeat on April 16, but now the scene shifts to Osceola Heritage Park for the second meeting of the season.
Back-to-back losses to Crown Legacy FC and Columbus Crew 2 have not helped OCB’s quest in moving up the Eastern Conference standings. OCB are one of six Eastern Conference teams to have conceded 15 goals or more this season, a trend that will need to change immediately starting with this week’s showdown.
ATL UTD 2 can move one point back of OCB in the standings with a road victory on Friday night. After a three-match winning streak in April, Steve Cooke’s squad have stumbled in recent weeks, losing to Inter Miami II and Crown Legacy FC respectively. Nicolas Firmino remains ATL UTD 2’s top scoring threat despite not finding the back of the net in each of his last three matches.
Huntsville City FC vs. Crown Legacy FC (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
A rematch from the opening match of 2023, Huntsville City FC this time welcomes Crown Legacy FC to town for their home opener.
Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium will play host to Huntsville City FC’s first home match after the expansion side played their first seven matches of 2023 on the road. Jack Collison’s squad are still seeking their first regulation victory despite going 3-0 so far in shootouts. Isaiah Johnston scored his first MLS NEXT Pro goal last week against Chicago Fire II.
Crown Legacy FC are showing zero signs of slowing down after earning a seventh-straight victory this past weekend. Vinicius Mello and Marko Filipovic both scored in a 2-1 win over ATL UTD 2, keeping Crown Legacy FC top of the East table, and level with Colorado Rapids 2 for the most points (22) and wins (7) in the league. 10 different players have scored at least one goal for the expansion side so far in 2023.
Austin FC II vs. Earthquakes II (9 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Austin FC II stumbled against Colorado Rapids 2 on Matchday 8 and will be seeking a bounce-back result at home on Friday.
Marlon Vargas’ second-half goal condemned Austin FC II to their first regulation loss of 2023, moving Brett Uttley’s squad three points out of top spot. The goals have dried up a bit for Austin FC II, which has only scored four goals combined in their last four matches. Valentin Noel (four goals) will be among the candidates to try and find the back of the net at Parmer Field this weekend.
Earthquakes II claimed two points on Friday after a 5-3 shootout result over North Texas SC, helping Daniel De Geer’s squad bounce back from a 2-1 loss on Matchday 7. Quakes II have been one of the top defensive teams in 2023, conceding only five goals through seven matches. However, their seven goals scored are the second-fewest in the league, making it tough for Quakes II to improve up the table in recent weeks.
Sunday - 5/21
Philadelphia Union II vs. New England Revolution II (3 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Philadelphia Union II have taken five points out of a possible six over the last two weeks, giving Marlon LeBlanc’s squad a shot of confidence in May.
Union II edged Inter Miami II 4-3 in a shootout after the teams played out a 2-2 scoreline through 90 minutes. Maike Villero and Stefan Stojanovic both scored at DRV PNK Stadium, before Union II conceded a late equalizer to Lukas Meek. 2023 MLS Draft pick Holden Trent made nine saves for Union II against Inter Miami II.
Brandan Craig’s absence due to U.S. Under-20 men’s national team duty will leave a big hole in Union II’s backline, forcing others to step up in his absence.
New England Revolution II put five goals past Union II back in early-April and will be seeking a similar performance at Subaru Park this Sunday. A 3-2 road result over TFC II helped Clint Peay’s squad snap a four-match winless streak, using two late goals from Damian Rivera to complete a heroic comeback. Rivera, 20, leads the team in goals (5) and assists (2) this season.
St. Louis CITY2 vs. Sporting KC II (6 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Sporting KC II earned their second two-match winning streak of 2023 on Sunday, setting up a Matchday 9 trip to St. Louis CITY2.
Back-to-back wins over Earthquakes II and LA Galaxy II have moved SKC II into the top-five of the Western Conference. Four different players have delivered goals in recent weeks, including Pau Vidal, who leads Benny Feilhaber’s squad with six tallies in 2023.
Lucas Rosa has been one of the promising defensive talents for SKC II.
St. Louis CITY2 have failed to win their last two matches despite edging LAFC2 in a shootout 5-3 on Sunday. John Klein’s first MLS NEXT Pro brace allowed Bobby Murphy’s squad to take a 2-0 advantage before LAFC2 hit back with two second-half goals of their own. Klein leads CITY2 with four goals this season, but will need help if CITY2 wants to turn things around in the West table.
Real Monarchs vs. LAFC2 (6 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
Two teams desperately needing results on Sunday will meet at Zions Bank Stadium as Real Monarchs host LAFC2.
Real Monarchs have lost back-to-back matches against Tacoma Defiance and Houston Dynamo 2, sitting just below the 10-point mark in the Western Conference. Diego Luna’s international call-up will leave Jamison Olave without one of his talented young attackers, but Terron Williams and Tyrone Mondi are still reliable goalscoring threats for Monarchs to call on.
LAFC2 haven’t had much go right for them this season with the Western Conference club falling in a shootout on Sunday for the third time in 2023. Plenty of LAFC2’s consistent starters were able to feature in U.S. Open Cup action last week, but ultimately results need to start coming in MLS NEXT Pro play. LAFC2’s four goals scored are the fewest in the league, with Ladji Malle (two goals) accounting for half of those.
FC Cincinnati 2 vs. Columbus Crew 2 (6 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
The Hell is Real Derby moves to MLS NEXT Pro this Sunday with FC Cincinnati 2 hosting Columbus Crew 2 at Northern Kentucky Stadium.
FCC2 have only one win in their last five matches, but should be well rested after having Matchday 8 off. Jesus Castellano and Kai Thomas (four combined goals) will lead the way for Tyrone Marshall’s squad with Arquimides Ordonez set for FIFA U-20 World Cup duty with Guatemala. Ordonez’s six goals in MLS NEXT Pro though will be hard to replace.
Columbus Crew 2 are riding a three-match winning streak after suffering a setback on Matchday 6 to Crown Legacy FC. Laurent Courtois’ men have outscored their opponents 8-2 over that span, with seven different players contributing goals. Mataeo Bunbury has two goals over that stretch, finding a good run of form with his new club.
TFC II vs. Chicago Fire II (7 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
A crucial bottom-four showdown comes from York Lions Stadium on Sunday with TFC II hosting Chicago Fire II.
TFC II took an early 2-0 advantage over New England Revolution II on Sunday before eventually falling 3-2 on home soil. Jesus Batiz netted his third goal of 2023 while Matthew Catavolo added his first MLS NEXT Pro of the season. However, TFC II’s defense has to be better if they want to move off the bottom spot in the East.
Chicago Fire II heads to Canada seeking to end a six-match winless run in league play. Ludovic Taillander’s squad have forced shootouts in each of their last three matches, but have fallen to New York Red Bulls II, MNUFC2, and Huntsville City FC in recent weeks. Harold Osorio has scored in each of his last two outings while Omari Glasgow is always a livewire on the ball.
New York Red Bulls II vs. Inter Miami II (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Four points separate New York Red Bulls II and Inter Miami II heading into Sunday’s clash at MSU Soccer Park.
Red Bulls II blanked rivals NYCFC II 2-0 on Sunday with Elias Manoel and Frank Ssebuufu both finding the back of the net. It was the fourth clean sheet for Red Bulls II goalkeepers in the past five matches, as 16-year-old Alan Rutkowski got the nod this past weekend. Red Bulls II have only conceded seven goals in 2023, the fourth-fewest in MLS NEXT Pro so far.
Inter Miami II have been up-and-down over recent weeks, but have taken four points out of a possible six in their last two matches. Lukas Meek has scored in each of his last two appearances, giving Federico Higuain’s squad a growing figure in front of goal. However, Inter Miami II has yet to register a clean sheet in 2023, something Higuain will hope changes in New Jersey this weekend.
LA Galaxy II vs. Timbers2 (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
Timbers2 erased a first-half deficit on Sunday to rebound from back-to-back league defeats, setting up a winnable trip to LA Galaxy II this weekend.
A 3-1 comeback win over Whitecaps FC 2 featured goals from Michael Vang, Victor Griffith, and Florián Monzón. All three players added their names to the Timbers2 scoring ranks and will be seeking a follow-up performance in California this weekend. It will be the first meeting between Timbers2 and Galaxy II in MLS NEXT Pro play.
Galaxy II have failed to win their last four matches, scoring only three goals over that span. Axel Picazo and Ruben Ramos have joined Aaron Bibout in the Galaxy II scoring ranks, but ultimately others will need to start delivering for the Western Conference club. Galaxy II have also conceded two goals or more in six of their eight matches this season, a worrying sign as well.
North Texas SC vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (8:30 p.m. ET, MLSNEXTPro.com)
The first Texas Derby of 2023 between North Texas SC and Houston Dynamo 2 takes place on Sunday night.
NTX fell 5-3 in a shootout to Earthquakes II last Friday, after the teams were held goal-less through 90 minutes. Jose Mulato missed NTX’s trip to California last weekend, which was a major loss for Javier Cano and his squad. Hope Avayevu leads the team with four goals while Tyshawn Rose is only two matches removed from a three-assist performance.
Houston Dynamo 2 claimed their first shutout win of 2023 on Sunday, blanking Real Monarchs 3-0. Beto Avila set the tone with Dynamo Dos’ first goal before Djevencio van der Kust and Diego Gonzalez also found the back of the net. Dynamo Dos posted two regulation victories over NTX last season and will be fighting to extend that streak on Sunday.
Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Tacoma Defiance (9 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)
A top-four Western Conference showdown comes from Swangard Stadium as Whitecaps FC 2 hosts Tacoma Defiance to close out Matchday 9.
Whitecaps FC 2 sit only two points back of the Defiance for third place despite losing 3-1 to Timbers2 on Matchday 8. Ricardo Clark’s squad have alternated results in their last six matches, failing to register a winning streak yet in 2023. Levonte Johnson’s fourth league goal of the season was the lone bright spot against Timbers2, after the Canadian forward also scored in U.S. Open Cup play the week prior.
Wade Webber’s Defiance outlasted MNUFC2 4-2 on spot kicks on Sunday after the teams played out a thrilling 4-4 match at Starfire Sports Complex. Braudilio Rodrigues continued his impressive run of form by scoring his first brace of 2023. Raul Migiletti and Antonio Herrera also celebrated tallies of their own, giving Webber added goal scoring weapons to call on this summer.