Week 5 of MLS NEXT Pro action is here, and this round's Game of the Week is a Western Conference meeting between St Louis CITY2 and MNUFC2 at Hermann Stadium in St Louis, Missouri on Sunday. The action is set to kick off at 8 p.m. ET.
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.
CITY2 is one of only four unbeaten teams left in the MLS NEXT Pro ranks and has come out of the gate with three consecutive wins, which should leave Head Coach John Hackworth delighted in the organization’s first-ever campaign.
So far, no opponent has been able to keep CITY2 off the scoresheet in league play and its seven goals have come from six different players. The diversity in the scoring makes for a difficult team to prepare for, as each line presents a credible scoring threat. Look no further than defender Akil Watts, whose two goals lead the team and have come in back-to-back weeks.
On the defensive side, CITY2 has only allowed three goals through as many games which is tied for fourth-best in the league. Who stands in goal might be one question mark heading into Sunday’s showdown, though. Eric Walker has started all three regular-season games but did get subbed off with an injury last weekend against Sporting Kansas City II. Michael Creek came on in substitution to see out the club’s first clean sheet on the season and was lights-out against Louisville City FC in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match. Though CITY2 was outlasted in the shootout, Creek was not to blame. His five saves in regulation fended off the best attacking side in the USL ranks and would have been good enough to earn a point on a regular occasion.
Players to Watch:
Akil Watts, defender - How often do you see a defender put together a scoring streak? One golazo and one finish from a tight angle have shown Watts’ finishing might just be an underrated attribute.
Josh Dolling, forward - Dolling has stared in two games and leads CITY2 with two assists. Is this the week the goal opens up for the Englishman?
Michael Creek, goalkeeper - After being no.2 in the goalkeeper pecking order, Creek has been excellent in the minutes he’s featured. Can he deliver another clean sheet?
Last weekend’s 4-0 win over Colorado Rapids 2 was a convincing one beyond the lopsided scoreline. MNUFC2 displayed some well-worked team goals that showed Head Coach Cameron Knowles’ side continue trending in the right direction.
The win was the second of the season for MNUFC2, and it is now over the playoff line in the Western Conference. Sunday will be six-pointer with an in-conference foe in that regard.
The questions will be about who MNUFC2 has personnel-wise. Last weekend’s result was a positive one, but there was obviously an undeniable advantage to having seven Minnesota United first-teamers in the starting XI. Given all of the rotation organizations have had to do between the Generation adidas Cup, U.S. Open Cup, MLS NEXT Pro, and MLS regular season all raging on simultaneously last week, it might not be a given to see a carbon copy of last week’s winning combination.
Players to watch:
Nabilai Kibunguchy, defender - His 14 interceptions top the league, and his two goals are tied for tops in the team scoring ranks. A true two-way threat.
Aziel Jackson, forward - 20-year-old Jackson’s two goals and one assist marks him as the production leader for MNUFC2 so far this season.
Adrien Hunou - If available, of course. Hunou, an MLS Designated Player, has been working his way back to the Minnesota first-team roster. He paid dividends for MNUFC2 last weekend with scoring in his first game, and is obviously one of the dangerous options it will have should Knowles be able to deploy him again.