The inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season kicked off on March 24, 2022, and six weeks into the campaign, MLS NEXT Pro’s editorial team and several league personnel voted on the first-ever monthly awards.
Player, Coach, Team and Goalkeeper of the Month were all voted on, with Week 1 being played in late March and Weeks 2-6 throughout the month of April being combined for the monthly awards.
The current frontrunner for the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez has found the back of the net six times through six weeks to earn the first-ever player of the month award.
A Seattle Sounders FC homegrown product, Ocampo-Chavez has registered 14 scoring attempts over 534 minutes, with 12 of them being on target. The 20-year-old has been a crucial part of the Defiance’s campaign so far, tallying 40 percent of their total goals scored through six weeks.
Sitting 2-2-2 at the end of April, the Defiance and Ocampo-Chavez pulled off a stunning week six victory over the previously undefeated Houston Dynamo 2 to earn their second win of the season. Ocampo-Chavez scored the third goal of the week six matchup en-route to a 4-1 victory at home for the Defiance.
"Being selected as player of the month gives me more confidence moving forward. I am more motivated and hyped up to keep working hard this season. It is a good individual goal, but this is only the beginning," said Ocampo-Chavez.
Defiance Head Coach Wade Webber also recognized Ocampo-Chavez for the award. “I’m delighted for Alfonso to receive the MLSNP Player of the Month award for April. I know his goal scoring exploits are drawing attention, but he is working so hard for the team in every phase of play. He can score in a variety of ways and is very intelligent with his movement inside the box. We are excited to watch him continue to push himself to reach new heights this season.”
Other nominees: Paul Rothrock, Forward, Toronto FC II; Pedro Fonseca, Forward, Real Monarchs; Roberto Avila, Forward, Houston Dynamo; Bernard Kamungo, Forward, North Texas SC
Houston Dynamo 2, who began the season with five straight wins, are given the honors as the top MLS NEXT Pro side over the first six weeks of the season. Sitting atop the overall MLS NEXT Pro rankings and atop the Western Conference, Kenny Bundy’s side sit 5-1-0 with a 3-0 home record and a 2-1 away record.
Along the way, they’ve scored 13 goals and kept three clean sheets while boasting a +6 goal-differential.
“The purpose of Dynamo 2 is to develop players who will push the First Team daily. These awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication that both the players and the staff have put into this project. While it is only the beginning, recognition such as this is validation we are headed in the right direction with Dynamo 2,” said Houston Dynamo assistant general manager and Director Soccer Operations Nick Kowba
Other nominees: Columbus Crew 2; New England Revolution II; St Louis CITY2; North Texas SC
Bundy has led Dynamo Dos to an incredible start in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season, with his side sitting atop the league at 5-0-1 through six weeks of action. Bundy was announced as the head coach of Dynamo Dos on January 28th and has worked with Houston Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura closely to create one of the most competitive and exciting rosters across the league.
Bundy, who has been with the Dynamo organization since 2016, had previously served as the head coach of their academy’s U-23 side. A former pro himself, Bundy made over 120 appearances across the USL and MISL from 2003-2009.
"This is an award that we'll pride ourselves on. It's really important that we continue to understand it's a team effort and it's a staff effort. It's great when you get those accolades because it shows all of the work that everybody's put in, so I'm really excited for the guys, really excited for the staff. It's early on in the season and now is the time to work. We're starting to see the qualities of all of the teams and the quality that this league is going to bring. So I think it's an honor for the team to get team of the month. It's an honor for the staff to for us to get recognized as the staff of the month because that's how I think of the award. It's time to get after it because now the fun part begins," said Bundy.
Other nominees: Pa-Modou Kah, North Texas SC; Clint Peay, Revs II; John Hackworth, St Louis CITY2; Laurent Courtois, Columbus Crew 2.
Javier Otero has been voted the top goalkeeper over the first six weeks of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season.
The 19-year-old stands six-foot-six in between the sticks and has kept two clean sheets through six games while making 30 saves along the way. Boasting an 83.3 save percentage, Otero has only allowed six goals past his hands through five matches played.
Orlando City B’s goalkeeper has been put in a shootout position twice this season, with OCB winning the additional point both times and Otero making three saves across the two shootouts from the spot.
“This was one of my goals to excel in MLS NEXT Pro and I am so grateful for all of the people who helped me achieve it,” said Orlando City B Goalkeeper Javier Otero
Orlando City B Head Coach Martín Perelman added, “Javi is developing tremendously and was able to show us great performances in these games. He has been a determining factor for us both with his saves and also in the shootouts. We have high expectations for him, as we do all of our players, and he has delivered on that.”
Other nominees: Jacob Jackson, Revs II; Xavier Valdez, Houston Dynamo 2; Matt Freese, Philadelphia Union II.