St Louis CITY2 and Tacoma Defiance became the first two MLS NEXT Pro sides to clinch a spot in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, while Columbus Crew 2 will have to wait until week 23 for possible celebrations. With two clear frontrunners clinched in the West, the race for the remaining spots heats up while the Eastern Conference has three wide-open spots beneath Crew 2.
With just five weeks to go, it’s all-or-nothing for teams looking from the outside.
Here’s your week 22 MLS NEXT Pro top 5 power rankings:
Dynamo Dos continues to perform and once again comes in at the No. 5 spot in this week's rankings. They did not have a match in Week 22, however, it’s hard to ignore their recent success.
Kenny Bundy’s side are riding an eight-match win streak, where they’ve established a +8 goal-differential while keeping three clean sheets. Heading into Week 23, Dynamo Dos find themselves sitting 4th in the West and level on points with 3rd place North Texas SC. They hold a 7-point lead over 5th place MNUFC2, with both sides having played 20 games.
If they can maintain their current form, they look set to book a spot in this season's MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.
Previous ranking: 5
Next Match: vs MNUFC2 August 27
TFC II have been one of, if not the, hottest teams across MLS NEXT Pro this summer. They’ve climbed from the depths of the table to the top. Four-straight losses in May has turned into an incredible run extending back to the beginning of June, where they have now gone 10 games unbeaten including a current five-match win streak.
Week 22 saw TFC II claim all three points at home against FCC2 in a 2-1 victory. Paul Rothrock opened the scoring in the 2nd minute and the game-winner came in the 84th from Alec Diaz.
They sit second overall in the Eastern Conference heading into Week 23 and have a five-point gap between them and 5th place NYCFC II.
Previous Ranking: 3
Next Match: vs Chicago Fire FC II August 25
Crew 2 earned two valuable points in a draw with OCB. Star forward Jacen Russell-Rowe played but could not add a goal to his tally for leading scorer, where he is tied with OCB striker Jack Lynn – both of whom top the charts with 15.
Despite their lapse this past weekend, they still sit 1st overall in the East with 44 points. They are nine points clear of 2nd place TFC II. They are in pole-position for a playoff berth followed by a postseason run.
They’ll face a tough Union II team in Week 23, so they’ll need to show up to play if they want to further secure their ranking across the top of the East.
Previous Ranking: 1
Next Match: vs Philadelphia Union II August 27
CITY2 put on an absolute clinic in Week 22, taking all three points in a 5-2 victory over Earthquakes II on the road. The win saw them clinch their spot in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs and climb the Power Rankings in the process, jumping from their No. 4 spot in Week 21 to No. 2 in Week 23.
A Joao Klauss De Mello brace highlighted the evening, but two CITY2 red cards throughout the evening were a cause for concern. Selmir Pidro and Josh Yaro were both forced to exit the match and will be suspended for their next match against Timbers2. The good news is that following their playoff clinch, they can afford to rotate their squad.
In addition to clinching the playoffs and taking three points in Week 22, CITY2 have now established the best road record across the league, going 7-1-1 through nine matches.
Previous Ranking: 4
Next Match: vs Timbers2 August 27
Tacoma Defiance clinched a playoff spot and the Pacific Division with a three-point 1-0 victory over SKC II in Week 22. They left it late, but Defiance secured their berth in the postseason courtesy of a 78th-minute winner from defender Hal Uderitz. Playmakers Marlon Vargas and Alfonso Ocampo Chavez struggled to make an impact, but the substitute defender came up clutch with his second goal of the season.
Defiance makes the jump to the No. 1 ranking from No. 2 in Week 21, and at the same time, have climbed atop the overall MLS NEXT Pro rankings with 46 points through 21 games.
Wade Webber’s side bounced back from a week 21 defeat to MNUFC2 in the best way possible and can now move forward trying to further secure their spot at the top.
Previous Ranking: 2
Next Match: vs Real Monarchs August 27