The inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Invitational saw English Premier League 2 sides Chelsea FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. take on MLS NEXT Pro’s Real Monarchs, Colorado Rapids 2 and Toronto FC II at Utah's Zions Bank Stadium and Rio Tinto Stadium.
In a contest pinned between the leagues – and not the individual teams – MLS NEXT Pro came out on top with 10 total points, beating the respective Premier League 2 who tallied two total points.
The Invitational played a role in preseason training for the teams from across the pond, while the three MLS NEXT Pro sides were knee-deep in their inaugural campaign. The contest kicked off on July 19 and concluded on July 27, with the nine days of action consisting of four matches played.
Following the MLS NEXT Pro regular season points system, three points were to be awarded for a regulation win and one point was to be awarded to each team if things ended in a stalemate with an additional point awarded to the winner of a shootout in kicks from the penalty spot.
The Invitational opened with Real Monarchs and Chelsea FC clashing at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the two sides played to a 2-2 draw, with the Monarchs taking the additional point, winning 5-4 in the shootout.
After the guests opened the scoring in just the second minute, the Monarchs equalized through Tyrone Mondi in the 32nd.
A goal each in the second half sent the match to kicks from the spot, where Real Monarchs earned a 5-4 victory to open the Invitational, taking two points to Chelsea’s one.
Real Monarchs blanked Wolves 2-0 courtesy of goals from Golden Mafwenta and Tyrone Mondi. For Mondi, it was his second of the invitational.
Mafwenta opened the scoring in the 21st minute while Mondi capped the game off with the dagger in the 89th.
TFC II made their debut in the invitational against Chelsea at Zions Bank Stadium in a back-and-forth contest that ended in a 1-1 draw. The Blues opened the scoring early, with Joe Haigh finding the back of the net in the 22nd minute.
TFC II’s Rohan Goulbourne equalized in the 56th minute, scoring what would be the final regulation goal of the match.
Settling in kicks from the spot, TFC II topped Chelsea FC 5-4 to secure the comeback victory.
Highlighted by three second-half goals, a 73rd minute winner from Rapids 2 forward Yaya Toure gave them all three points in a 2-1 victory over Wolves.
Anthony Markanich opened the scoring for the MLS NEXT Pro side in the 53rd minute and Wolves equalized through Nathan Fraser less than 60 seconds later.
Toure’s 73rd minute strike proved to be decisive in the final match of the MLS NEXT Pro Invitational finale.
Mondi scored two goals for Real Monarchs in the tournament, finding the back of the net against both Chelsea FC and Wolverhampton.
In the four total matches played, Mondi was the leading scorer with two goals. The 24-year-old played a crucial role in helping MLS NEXT Pro to victory in this inaugural invitational.
Chelsea FC’s Benjamin Elliot scored a wonder-goal in the second half of their opening match against Real Monarchs. The 19-year-old danced across the 18-yard box and around each Monarch, calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net.