Week 20 of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season is here, and things are starting to heat up. The race for the top overall spot across the league is getting closer and closer while teams sitting outside the respective top four spots in each conference are fighting week-in and week-out in hopes of earning a playoff spot.
That, and more, in your week 20 preview from a distance. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s matches.
Friday, August 5
Real Monarchs vs Whitecaps FC 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Real Monarchs are coming off of an impressive showing in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Invitational, where they beat two English Premier League U23 sides, helping MLS NEXT Pro take home the hardware. They have two wins in their last four matches but are coming off of a disappointing 3-1 loss to Earthquakes II. Friday will be an important match for all involved, however, due to the best promo night of the year.
WFC2 is unbeaten in their last three matches, taking an impressive two points in week 19 against Houston Dynamo 2 after a 2-2 draw saw them win an additional point in kicks from the spot.
Earthquakes II vs Tacoma Defiance, 10:30 p.m. ET
The MLS NEXT Pro Team of the Month during July takes on the red-hot Earthquakes II in a Western Conference clash.
Earthquakes II have only lost once in their last eight matches, while the Defiance are riding a four-game win streak and sit atop the overall league standings. Defiance were awarded both Team and Coach of the Month during July.
Defiance will look to extend their lead on the top while Earthquakes II will look to continue their late push into a playoff spot.
Saturday, August 6
St Louis CITY2 vs Chicago Fire II, 9 p.m. ET
CITY2 will look to forget their Week 19 performance, where they lost 5-1 to now league leaders, Tacoma Defiance. They’ll look to bounce back and close the gap between them as the top two Western Conference sides when they host Fire II Saturday.
Chicago Fire FC II is coming off of an impressive Week 19 performance that saw them take two points against RNY FC – one of the top teams in the Western Conference. They’ll look to play the upset card once again in week 20, as they look to spoil CITY2’s party for the second time in as many weeks.
Colorado Rapids 2 vs MNUFC2, 11:59 p.m. ET
In true MLS NEXT Pro After Dark action, Rapids 2 host MNUFC2 in a Western Conference showdown. The hosts have claimed five of their last possible six points and will look to continue their run of form against the Loons.
MNUFC2, however, are looking to bounce back after a tough five-game stretch that saw them fall out of a Western Conference playoff spot.
In the first two head-to-head matches this season, the Loons knocked off Rapids 2 both 4-0 and 5-1. It will now be a revenge story for the hosts, while the Loons look to pull the triple on their opponents.
Sunday, August 7
Columbus Crew 2 vs NYCFC II, 5 p.m. ET
In one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference will go head-to-head.
Week 19 saw Crew 2 end a seven-game unbeaten streak, falling 2-1 to Union II. However, they’re ready to bounce back and reclaim their throne as the top team across MLS NEXT Pro.
NYCFC II might have something to say about that, though, as the boys in blue and their red-hot striker John Denis will look to pull the upset card. Denis, the July Player of the month, co-leads the league in scoring with 13 goals and looks to extend his lead Sunday.
FC Cincinnati 2 vs Philadelphia Union II, 6 p.m.ET
FCC2 have taken four out of their last six possible points and is looking to continue their run of form in Week 20, as they host Union II. The two sides met during the opening MLS NEXT Pro weekend, where Union II took all three points. This time around, though, FCC2 will look to play spoiler.
Union II are likely still not over their Week 19 victory over Crew II, where a stoppage-time wonder goal gave them all three points.
However, they now have to focus up as they hit the road to take on FCC2.
Inter Miami II vs New England Revolution II, 7 p.m. ET
In an exciting Eastern Conference clash, Shanyder Borgelin and Inter Miami Ii host Revs II in a match between the No. 5 and No. 6 ranked sides in the East.
Borgelin was nominated for MLS NEXT ProPlayer of the Month during July, helping Inter Miami II to an unbeaten month – five games in total. Week 19 saw them take two points in a draw with FCC2, but they’ll be looking for three points Sunday.
Revs II are riding a three-game skid but will look to bounce back this week. Each side has taken three points in their first two meetings this season, so round three will naturally be a motivator.
Toronto FC II vs Orlando City B, 7 p.m. ET
The MLS NEXT Pro game of the week, more details for this match can be found HERE.
Houston Dynamo 2 vs Sporting KC II, 8 p.m ET
Dynamo Dos are riding a six-match unbeaten streak and will look to make it seven as they host SKC II. Week 19 saw them take a point in a narrow 2-2 draw with WFC2, but now, three points are on the mind Sunday.
SKC II have lost three straight but will look to play spoiler in week 20 as they look to bounce back and find a run of form to end the campaign.
Timbers2 vs North Texas SC, 10 p.m. ET
Timbers2 sit last in the overall rankings across the league with just seven points this campaign, while North Texas SC sits fourth in the West and looking to keep it that way.
The match will be a story of Timbers2 looking to play spoiler and knock their opponents out of a playoff spot while North Texas SC will look to build on their Week 19 performance – a 3-0 victory over SKC II – and maintain their form.