MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 9 Recap: Friday Rewind

Jonathan Bolanos celebrates the game-tying goal for Huntsville City FC during the inaugural game at Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium.

Matchday 9 of MLS NEXT Pro action kicked off with some exciting games but it was Huntsville City FC whole stole the spotlight by securing their historic first-ever home victory in front of a sold out stadium.

Let's dive in a take a look at all games that took place on Friday night:

Huntsville City FC (2) - Crown Legacy FC (1)

Huntsville City FC’s long wait to open the Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium came to an end on Friday with Jack Collison’s squad earning their first regulation win of 2023.

Jonathan Bolanos and Azaad Liadi both scored for Huntsville City FC to help overturn an early deficit in a 2-1 comeback victory over Crown Legacy FC. 5,605 fans attended the match, giving Huntsville City FC their first sellout in their new stadium.

Jacob Williams’ fifth minute finish propelled Crown Legacy FC in front 1-0 after the defender struck home early. It was Williams’ first goal of the season.

Huntsville City FC would fight back near the end of the first half when Jonathan Bolanos picked up a pass from Randall Leal in the 42nd minute before drilling a low shot into the bottom-left corner. It was Bolanos’ second goal of the MLS NEXT Pro campaign.

With both teams pressing for a winning goal, Huntsville City FC found one with 20 minutes to play. Oliver Wright and Azaad Liadi connected in the box, before Liadi delivered his third goal of the campaign.

Huntsville City FC goalkeeper Ben Martino made four saves in the home win for the expansion side.

Orlando City B (2) - ATL UTD 2 (2) (ATL UTD 2 wins 5-4 in shootout)

ATL UTD 2 rebounded from back-to-back defeats on Friday night with Steve Cooke’s squad edging Orlando City B 5-4 in a shootout. 

Substitute forward Jack Lynn scored twice for the hosts, but it wasn’t enough for OCB as ATL UTD 2 remained unbeaten against their Eastern Conference foes this season. 

ATL UTD 2 struck first in the sixth minute as Karim Tmimi finished off Nicolas Firmino’s assist for his first goal of 2023. Tmimi beat Javier Otero to the bottom-left corner, giving the visitors an early advantage. 

It was Tmimi’s third goal of the season.

The pressure continued for ATL UTD 2 early in the second half as Luke Brennan’s penalty kick doubled their lead to 2-0. However, OCB would fight their way back through Lynn’s strong efforts in the final third. 

Lynn’s left-footed finish off the ensuing restart cut OCB’s deficit to 2-1 before the hosts would equalize not long after.

Firmino’s missed penalty kick sprung OCB on the counter before Lynn delivered his second goal of the night. 

A shootout was needed to decide a winner and ATL UTD 2 came out on top. The visitors went a perfect 5-for-5 from the penalty spot before Jorge Almaguer’s missed effort led to two points for ATL UTD 2.

Austin FC II (0) - Earthquakes II (1)

Earthquakes II remained perfect on the road in 2023 after defeating Austin FC II by a 1-0 scoreline at Parmer Field. 

Roberto Hategan’s first-half goal was all Daniel De Geer’s squad needed to jump to fifth place in the Western Conference. Austin FC II suffered their first two-match losing streak in MLS NEXT Pro. 

Quakes II held the early advantage in the final third with Jose Serrano being denied by Damian Las in goal. However, Quakes II would find the breakthrough goal in the 33rd minute as Hategan’s long-range effort snuck into the bottom-right corner.

Austin FC II fought late to try and force a shootout with CJ Fodrey and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez both being denied by Quakes II goalkeeper Emi Ochoa. 

Jonathan Santillan also struck the crossback before stoppage time, continuing the frustration for Austin FC II. 

Ochoa finished the match with four saves as Quakes II moved to 3-0 away from home this season.