Week 3 of MLS NEXT Pro action is upon us, and this round's "Game of the Week" will be the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro Sunshine Showdown in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with Orlando City B visiting Inter Miami CF II. The teams will face off at 5:30 p.m ET this Sunday, at DRV PNK Stadium.
Both of the team's parent clubs have clashed during MLS Rivalry Week, with their first-ever matchup taking place during the 2020 MLS Is Back Tournament.
This and every match will be available to stream live and free of charge on MLSNEXTPro.com.
MLS NEXT Pro has teamed up with automated camera technology provider Spiideo to deliver live streams of all MLS NEXT Pro matches, ensuring every game this season will be available for viewing on MLSNEXTPro.com.
The matchup is this week's MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week, so viewers will experience a multi-camera production for this match.
Originally from Nottingham, England, Inter Miami CF II Head Coach Darren Powell joined Inter Miami in January 2020 and began assisting with Fort Lauderdale CF, now Inter Miami II, in February 2020. Before joining Inter Miami CF II as Head Coach, Powell had amassed over 20 years of experience coaching teams like San Antonio FC of the USL Championship, Elon University, and Greensboro College.
Inter Miami CF II sit in 4th place in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with 5 points after winning their inaugural week match 2-0 against Columbus Crew 2 and losing the shootout to the Philadelphia Union II after a six-goal draw this past Tuesday. Inter Miami CF valiantly clawed their way back to a 3-3 regulation time tie after falling down by 2 goals to a very tough Union II side.
Powell commended his team's effort even in a shootout loss. "It was an extremely competitive game with both teams fighting to earn a point," he said. "My biggest takeaway is the attitude and commitment of the players; it was just fantastic. I couldn't be more proud of the way they came back."
Players to Watch:
Emerson Rodriguez, Forward - The 21-year-old Colombian native helped Inter Miami II secure their first-ever MLS NEXT Pro win during Week 1. The former Millonarios player made his impact by scoring a brace against Columbus Crew 2 in less than 10 minutes. He should be on Orlando City's radar if he is listed on Inter Miami CF II team sheet come Sunday.
Romeo Beckham, Midfielder - If the last name rings a bell for you, it's because Romeo Beckham is former England's National Team Captain and Inter Miami owner David Beckham's son. The 19-year-old Beckham bagged a hat-trick of assists during his last outing against Union II, including a stoppage-time free-kick assist to Shanyder Borgelin that sent the game into a shootout.
Shanyder Borgelin, Midfielder - The 20-year-old Haitian has come off the bench in both Inter Miami II's MLS NEXT Pro games. Borgelin might get a chance at a starting spot this weekend after scoring a second-half brace against Philadelphia Union II.
Orlando City B
Orlando City B is coached by Martin Perelman, who began his playing career in Israel in 1998. After stints in his native Argentina and Greece, Perelman started his coaching career in 2019 and led Club Comunicaciones to the Torneo Complemento de la Primera B title before accepting the head coaching position with Orlando City B in 2022.
OCB has gotten off to a great start under Perelman, earning 5 points in their first 2 games. The trio of Jack Lynn, Wilfredo Rivera Javier Otero led the way during opening week play, earning a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Chicago Fire II.
Lynn was a factor again during OCB's Week 2 shoutout win against NYCFC II, recording an assist and converting his attempt during the shootout. Orlando City B's starting lineup against NYCFC II featured 5 First Team players. The 5 players were the aforementioned Lynn and Rivera, in addition to Erick Gunera, Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas and Alex Freeman.
Perelman felt his team could've done better during the latter part of the match and had this to say after the shootout victory:
"It was a match where we played against a young team because they came with young players. They had a lot of energy. In the first half, we did great; we did a good job. We can do better, but it was a good half, and in the second half, they were better than us, so the draw is okay. Then the penalties are a part of the league, and we won that point, and that's important for us."
Players to Watch:
Jack Lynn, Forward - The No. 18 overall pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, has started his MLS NEXT Pro season on fire, recording 2 goals and 1 assist in his first 2 games. The St. Louis Missouri native signed a First Team contract after spending the preseason with Orlando City and scoring a goal against Minnesota United during a preseason scrimmage.
Javier Otero, Goalkeeper - Otero is a product of the Orlando City Development Academy and proved to be one of the deciding factors in OCB's torrid start. The 6'5 Venezuelan recorded 9 saves against Chicago Fire II, including 2 point-blank stops to keep a clean sheet. Otero made 7 saves against NYCF II during Week 2 and showed his shootout prowess stopping 2 penalties en route to a shootout win.
Wilfredo Rivera, Midfielder - The 18-year-old midfielder provided 2 assists to Jack Lynn during his professional debut in OCB's win over Chicago Fire II. Rivera was signed to a Homegrown contract in March of 2021.