Columbus Crew 2 forward Jacen Russell-Rowe lifted the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot award on Sunday after scoring twice in his regular-season finale. Houston Dynamo 2 finished the regular season as the lone club to post an unbeaten home record, while a total of four teams finished the regular season tied for the most shootout results in 2022 with four apiece.
Here’s your MLS NEXT Pro full regular season recap by the number:
Jacen Russell-Rowe captures Golden Boot with 21 goals
Columbus Crew 2’s success during the regular season has been a full team effort, but Jacen Russell-Rowe has been one of the headlining stars for Laurent Courtois’ squad.
Russell-Rowe lifted the 2022 Golden Boot award on Sunday in Crew 2’s 9-0 win over FC Cincinnati 2, scoring four goals on home soil. The Canadian international concluded his regular-season tally with 21 goals in 19 appearances for Crew 2, edging North Texas SC’s Bernard Kamungo to the award.
Russell-Rowe has already earned a first-team contract this summer and featured in Caleb Porter’s squad. Now his sight will be set on helping Crew 2 win the Championship this fall.
Caique posts eight shutouts in regular season for RNY FC
RNY FC has relied heavily on goalkeeper Caique this year and the Brazilian was rewarded Sunday with a playoff berth and the No. 1 spot for the most clean sheets in regular season action.
Caique edged Crew 2 shot-stopper Patrick Schulte for the most clean sheets this season, registering eight in total. The 25-year-old started in all 24 of RNY FC’s regular-season matches, posting 68 saves (second-most) and conceding only 29 goals in 2,095 minutes played.
Caique’s heroics also helped RNY FC post a 4-for-5 record in shootout this season, which was tied for the most results in MLS NEXT Pro.
T2, RNY FC, MNUFC 2, Rapids 2 finish tied for most shootout wins
A total of four MLS NEXT Pro clubs finished tied for the regular season lead in shootout wins this year.
Timbers2, RNY FC, MNUFC2, and Colorado Rapids 2 all posted four shutout wins this season, with T2 going a perfect 4-for-4. Although RNY FC was the only team out of this quartet to earn a postseason berth, the remaining three Western Conference clubs will have plenty to build off of heading into the winter.
Houston Dynamo 2 goes unbeaten at home, finishing 10-0-1 in regular season
Houston Dynamo 2 made AVEVA Stadium a fortress this year, going unbeaten at home for the entire regular season.
Dynamo Dos went 10-0-1 on home soil this season, a major reason for their third-place finish in the Western Conference. Their 22 goals conceded in total was the fewest in the West despite their 38 goals scored being ranked only seventh.
Defenders Talen Maples and Mujeeb Murana have been among the top at their positions this season while goalkeeper Xavier Valdez was also a key figure in the home success for the club.
NYCFC II finishes as lone club with two double-digit goalscorers
NYCFC II finished 2022 as the lone MLS NEXT Pro club to have two double-digit goalscorers with John Denis and Jonathan Jimenez excelling at the forward position.
Denis (14 goals) and Jimenez (10 goals) totaled 24 league goals between them, helping Matt Pilkington’s squad fight for a playoff spot on the final day. Although NYCFC II did not cross the red line in the Eastern Conference, it did play some of the more impressive attacking soccer within the league.
A total of 10 MLS NEXT Pro players reached double-digit goals this season, led by Crew 2’s Jacen Russell-Rowe (21), North Texas SC’s Bernard Kamungo (16), and Orlando City B’s Jack Lynn (15).
St Louis CITY2 finish first among best away records with eight road wins in 2022
St Louis CITY2 have been impressive for most of 2022, but John Hackworth’s squad truly became road warriors to help pave the way to a No. 1 seed in the West.
CITY2 posted the best road record in MLS NEXT Pro this season by winning eight of 12 matches away from home. The Western Conference club also claimed seven home wins, but truly was a threat in every match they played during the regular season.
They were among the top-four best in the West when it came to goals scored (51) and fewest goals allowed (34). Josh Yaro, Josh Dolling, and Kyle Heibert were the headlining stars for Hackworth and his coaching staff this season.
855 regular-season goals scored sets the tone for more in 2023 and beyond
There was zero shortage of goals during the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro regular season.
A total of 855 goals were scored this season, with the Western Conference clubs edging the Eastern Conference clubs 446-409 in the overall tally. Columbus Crew 2 posted the largest margin of victory this season as Laurent Courtois’ side defeated FC Cincinnati 2 9-0 on Sunday’s Decision Day finale.
Crew 2 finished top of the league standings with 62 goals scored and 55 points earned, while also tying with Houston Dynamo 2 for only 22 goals conceded.
Tacoma Defiance and St Louis CITY2 were the only other teams to post 50 goals scored or more this season, as CITY2 edged the Defiance to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.