The first half of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro regular season comes to a close this weekend with several headlining matchups in both conferences. There will be a split schedule every day this weekend with matches taking place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Here is a closer look at where each team stands heading into their Week 13 matchups:
Our featured Week 13 Game of the Week, more can be found on this matchup here.
Real Monarchs remains one of only two winless clubs left in MLS NEXT Pro this season and the hosts will aim to start a surge up the Western Conference standings, starting with Friday’s clash against Earthquakes II.
Jamison Olave’s squad has lost seven matches in a row and will look for anything at Zions Bank Stadium to give his players a spark this weekend. Pedro Fonseca has accounted for 50% of Real Monarchs goals this season, leading the way with four so far. 14-year-old Axel Kei is one to watch after scoring in his MLS NEXT Pro debut last weekend.
Earthquakes II has won two of its last five matches in league play, most recently ending MNUFC2’s winning streak by claiming a dramatic 2-1 result. Eduardo Blancas (three goals) and Maximilian Arfsten (two goals, three assists) are two key attacking players to watch for Quakes II, which will be looking to get after the last-placed club in the league.
Friday’s final matchup will pit one of the best home teams in MLS NEXT Pro against one of the best road teams at Swangard Stadium.
Whitecaps FC 2 puts its 3-0-3 home record on the line on Friday with North Texas SC and its 4-0-1 road record making the trip up north. WFC 2 sits fifth in the Western Conference and has received strong seasons so far from several different players. A total of six players have contributed two goals or more to date, headlined by Owen Antoniuk and Emiliano Brienza with three goals apiece.
West-leading North Texas SC has won four matches in a row, conceding only two goals over that span to remain the best-ranked defensive team in MLS NEXT Pro. Pa-Modou Kah’s side has conceded only nine goals to date, while scoring two or more goals in each of the last three matches to match the defensive prowess on the offensive side of the ball. 20-year-old Bernard Kamungo remains one of the top offensive threats in the league and will be keen to add to his seven goals to date.
TFC II sits just three points out of the top four in the Eastern Conference heading into Week 13, but will now have to rely on others to step up with two key players heading on international duty.
Hugo Mbongue and Kobi Hamilton are unavailable for Saturday’s clash with NYCFC II after being called up to Canada’s U-20 national team for the start of the Concacaf U-20 Championship. Mbongue, 17, has contributed four goals and three assists in attack while the 19-year-old Hamilton has been a stalwart in TFC II’s backline.
TFC II remains winless on the road so far in 2022, another worry heading into a trip to Belson Stadium.
NYCFC II may only sit third in the East, but still possess one of the top offensive units in MLS NEXT Pro. Matt Pilkington’s squad has won three in a row and has only suffered defeat once in the past five matches. John Denis, Jonathan Jimenez and Stephen Turnbull have all scored four goals or more this season and headline a deep offensive unit.
The must-watch match in the Eastern Conference this weekend comes from Foxborough as New England Revolution II hosts RNY FC in a top-four clash at Gillette Stadium.
Revs II remain neck-and-neck with Columbus Crew 2 for the top spot in the East and could jump back into first place with three points on Saturday. Revs II have won four of their last five matches since suffering a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Crew 2 back in May, using the stellar play of goalkeeper Jacob Jackson to rise up the table. Jackson, 22, has only conceded eight goals in 10 starts this season, registering five clean sheets to date.
RNY FC’s five-match unbeaten run came to an end in Week 12, but Bruno Baltazar’s side will aim to show a short memory this weekend. Rochester New York FC fell 1-0 to FC Cincinnati 2 last weekend, suffering its first defeat since late-April. Offensively, Pedro Dolabella and Gibran Rayo have been two of the key cogs in Baltazar’s squad, totaling seven goals and four assists to date.
Colorado Rapids 2 will say goodbye to several first team players this weekend as the Western Conference club visits Tacoma Defiance aiming to pick up their first road win of 2022.
Rapids 2 is winless on the road through four matches to date and will now have to deal with one of the league’s high-flying attacking units. Gyasi Zardes, Diego Rubio and other first team players featured for Rapids 2 over the international break, but now regular starters such as Dantouma Toure and Darren Yapi will return to the starting lineup.
Tacoma Defiance is riding an eight-match unbeaten run in league play and posts one of the best home records so far this season at 5-1-1. Wade Webber’s side has outscored its opponents 15-3 over the past five matches, using Marlon Vargas’ stellar run of form to headline a deadly group of attackers. Vargas has scored in five-straight matches and will be joined by Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Abdoulaye Cissoko to lead the line.
The top-two goalscorers in MLS NEXT Pro will clash this weekend at Historic Crew Stadium with both aiming to lead their teams to important wins.
Columbus Crew 2 have earned back-to-back wins since suffering a 4-0 loss to RNY FC, totaling nine goals in that span. Led by the ever-dangerous Jacen Russell-Rowe and his nine goals to date, Crew 2 are picking back up where they left off in May, scoring goals at will. Their 24 goals scored is the second-most in the Eastern Conference while their 11 goals conceded ranks No. 1. Mo Farsi is also one of the top creative attackers in MLS NEXT Pro so far, totaling five assists.
Orlando City B has a major test awaiting them in Ohio this weekend, but the star ability of Jack Lynn could boost the visitors to an upset result. OCB sits eighth in the East and remains without a win on the road through four matches played this season. Lynn leads the way with nine goals and will provide the best threat for Martin Perelman’s side to get after Crew 2 away from home.
Only five points separate Philadelphia Union II and Chicago Fire FC II in the Eastern Conference standings and if Sunday’s matchup ends up anything like the first meeting between the clubs, fans will be in for a show.
Marlon LeBlanc’s side played out a 3-3 result with Chicago Fire II back in late April, with the hosts winning 5-4 in a shootout at SeatGeek Stadium. LeBlanc will now have to do without several key contributors due to the start of the Concacaf U-20 Championship, including starting centerback Brandan Craig. Chris Donovan and Nelson Pierre headline the attacking options while Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, and Jack McGlynn are all unavailable due to international call-ups.
Chicago Fire II has only earned one victory out of their last four matches and will be pushing for a surge up the East standings. Conceding goals has been an issue for Ludovic Talliander’s side, which has allowed 14 goals over their past four matches, including five to St Louis CITY2 in Week 12. Offensively, Josh Penn, Omari Glasgow, and Alex Moniz have all contributed goals in recent weeks, giving Talliander a number of options to rely on at Subaru Park.
Two of the teams on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture will meet at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami II hosts FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday.
Inter Miami II sits four points ahead of FC Cincinnati 2 coming into this weekend’s clash and could jump into the top-four with a victory on Sunday paired with other results elsewhere. Inter Miami CF II has had trouble keeping the ball out of their net this season, conceding 30 goals to date, which is the second-most in MLS NEXT Pro so far. Midfielders Abel Caputo and Benjamin Cremaschi lead the team in interceptions and will be two players that Inter Miami II can rely on to turn defense into offense this weekend.
FC Cincinnati 2 would move just one point back of Inter Miami II with a victory on Sunday and after earning back-to-back wins for the first time this season, confidence will be high in Tyrone Marshall’s squad. Nick Markanich has scored in back-to-back appearances for FCC2 and overall sits second on the roster with three goals overall this season. Avionne Flanagan and Arquimides Ordonez are also key contributors to watch if Markanich is held in check.
Houston Dymamo 2 recently lost back-to-back matches for the first time this season, but will hope for a bounce-back performance against winless Timbers2 on Sunday.
Kenny Bundy’s side makes the trip to Hillsboro Stadium aiming to stay in the top four in the Western Conference. Back-to-back defeats to St Louis CITY2 and Sporting KC II have hurt Dynamo Dos’ chances of being within touching distance of first place, but odds will be in their favor to win on Sunday after rolling past Timbers2 4-1 in their first head-to-head meeting back in April. Jon-Talen Maples and Papa Ndoye are the attackers to watch following Roberto Avila’s rise to the first team earlier this season.
Timbers2 join Real Monarchs as the only winless sides in MLS NEXT Pro this season and ultimately haven’t had much go their way in 2022. The Western Conference club has lost six in a row and will have a huge test in front of them, trying to stop a dynamic Dynamo Dos attack. Jamin Gogo Peters has three of Timbers2’s eight goals this season and will aim to play a heroic role in a possible upset this weekend.