Week 17 of MLS NEXT Pro action kicks off with two matches on Friday, six more across the weekend, and a second Game of the Week on Monday night.
How are teams shaping up with the playoffs fast approaching? Let’s find out.
Week 17 kicks off with Rapids 2 (4-9-2, 15 points) hosting an Earthquakes II (7-5-3, 25 points) side that is in the middle of a six-game unbeaten streak after defeating North Texas SC 3-1 last Sunday.
The two sides previously met on May 15, with the final score being 7-1 in favor of Quakes II.
Rapids 2 had their two-game winning streak snapped by SKCII last weekend and will now look to defend their home turf in the second of a four-game homestand at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
This game has been chosen as one of two MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week for Week 17. An extended preview of this match will be available soon.
Crew 2 (10-2-2, 32 points) missed their first two penalties during their shootout loss to TFC II over the weekend. This marked back-to-back games where Crew 2 lost in a shootout, first losing to RNY FC a couple of weeks prior.
More concerning for Crew 2 is the lack of goals since Jacen Russell-Rowe's departure to the Columbus First Team. The black and gold have been shut out on the score sheet in consecutive weeks, something that hadn't occurred since opening week.
Heading into Week 17, FC Cincinnati (3-11-0, 9 points) has lost four straight matches, with all their losses coming by multiple goals.
Each side will have something to prove heading into this game so expect a hard-fought game at Historic Crew Stadium.
A clash between the Eastern Conference's No. 2 and No. 4 sides in NYCFC II (8-4-3, 28 points) and RNY FC (6-4-4, 26 points) could prove to be the most intriguing matchup of Week 17.
Led by the league's leading scorer in John Denis, NYCFC II has the second highest-scoring offense in MLS NEXT Pro with 40 goals. Fourteen of those goals have come over the last three games, while their defense has done their part as well, only giving up one goal in the process.
On the other hand, RNY FC is firing on all cylinders thanks to the goal-scoring prowess of Gibran Rayo (five goals in two games) and Caique's excellent goalkeeping (five clean sheets). After back-to-back wins over Orlando City B and Union II, RNY FC has catapulted back into playoff contention.
Real Monarchs (1-12-2, 5 points) couldn't build on their first victory of the season during Week 15 of play after falling 4-1 to Houston Dynamo 2 on the road last weekend. Pedro Fonseca continues to be a bright spot for Real Monarchs scoring their only goal of the game against Dynamo 2 and his fifth of the campaign.
Sporting KC II (7-6-2, 23 points) have won three out of their last five games and are very much alive for a playoff spot, even though they're in eighth place in the Western Conference. With victories over Dynamo 2 and North Texas SC, SKC II is not a team you'd want to underestimate.
Shannon Murray's side couldn't stop Tacoma Defiance's offense last weekend, losing 6-1 on Sunday afternoon. Timbers2 (1-11-2, 7 points) will now focus on earning some points in the second of their three-game homestand.
Currently in sixth place in the Western Conference and five points away from the last playoff spot, WCFC2 will need to earn some points on the road this weekend if they want to remain in playoff contention.
Whitecaps FC 2 (6-4-5, 25 points) have now suffered back-to-back losses after losing 2-0 on the road to MNUFC2 last weekend.
Fire II (4-7-4, 17 points) will be looking to avenge an opening week loss to Orlando City B when they host The Lions on Sunday. Currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, Chicago Fire II has earned six points in their last three games and are ripe for a playoff push.
Orlando City B (3-7-3, 14 points) dropped points at home after letting an early lead slip against intrastate rival Inter Miami CF at Osceola County Stadium last weekend. Martín Perelman's side has given up 13 goals over their previous five games and will need their defense to tighten up if they hope to earn points.
Tacoma Defiance (8-3-4, 31 points) bounced back from their loss to Houston Dynamo 2 and earned a decisive 6-1 victory against rival Timbers2 over the weekend. Marlon Vargas scored a superb free-kick in the 23rd minute, bringing his season total to eight.
Wade Webber's side now leads MLS NEXT Pro in both goals scored with 41 and a goal differential of +24.
MNUFC2 (6-5-3, 24 points) lost a tight contest to St Louis CITY2 at home by the final score of 2-1. The Loons are currently in seventh place in a competitive Western Conference, and with ten games left in the season, they will need to get results if they hope to make the playoffs.
This game has been chosen as the second MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week for Week 17. An extended preview of this match will be available soon.