Nine games are on the schedule for Week 5 of MLS NEXT Pro action this weekend. Let’s take a look at the exciting matchups ahead:

Saturday, April 23
FC Cincinnati 2 vs Inter Miami II

Both teams come into this matchup after suffering tough losses last weekend. FC Cincinnati 2 failed to take advantage of a 2-0 halftime lead over Revs 2 and fell 3-2 in the final minutes of the game. 

FCC2 Head Coach Tyrone Marshall emphasized the need to duplicate the intensity of the first half, while limiting the lapses that came in the second half.

"Obviously, the tale of two halves. Second half we struggled a bit and that comes with the territory of young men trying to understand how to manage a game. That's part of our growth,” Marshall said. “Now we concentrate over a longer period of time. And that’s knowing the importance of working together as a group.”

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Heading into last week’s matchup against NYCFC II, Inter Miami II was unbeaten and gaining traction as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.  A disjointed 7-0 defeat at Belson Stadium halted that momentum in a hurry.

If the shocking result wasn’t bad enough, Romeo Beckham, MLS NEXT Pro’s leader in assists, picked up a red card in the latter stages of the game and will not be available for this game. If Inter Miami II can make do without Beckham and return to its early regular-season form, they should be able to bounce back.

North Texas SC vs Houston Dynamo 2

It’ll be an all-Texas affair when Houston Dynamo 2 visits North Texas SC at Toyota Stadium on Saturday. The two teams head into this matchup separated by only one point in the overall standings. Houston is currently on a four-game winning streak, scoring nine goals while only giving up one in 360 minutes of play. Dynamo 2’s offense is spearheaded by one of MLS NEXT Pro’s leading scorers in Roberto Avila who has four goals this season.

North Texas SC comes in undefeated as well, winning three games and a shootout to earn 11 points in four games. NTSC forward Bernard Kamungo has emerged as a goal-scoring threat, scoring in three consecutive games and knocking in the game-winning goal against Earthquakes II last week.

RNY FC vs NYCFC II

Rochester New York FC had a busy week on its hands after playing against USL League Two side FC Motown in a midweek U.S. Open Cup contest. RNY FC survived a tense shootout and moved on to the Round of 32 and a matchup with defending MLS Cup champion New York City FC on May 11. Back on the MLS NEXT Pro side, Bruno Baltazar’s team has been unable to muster a win through three matches and will need to jumpstart an offense that has one goal in their initial three matches.

Seven different players scored for NYCFC II during its 7-0 outburst against Inter Miami II last week. But after impressing everyone with that performance, will NYCFC II be able to defeat its in-state rival and continue to climb up the standings?

Sunday, April 24
Columbus Crew 2 vs TFC II

Crew 2 earned its first-ever home win and third consecutive victory overall after defeating Orlando City B last week. Employing a nonstop press that traps opponents in their own half, Crew 2 has done a great job in limiting its opponent’s attack and holding on to slim leads. Columbus Crew 2’s offense is picking up steam after only scoring twice in the first three games and will face a Toronto FC II team that has given up a goal in each of its first three games.

TFC II came back from a 2-1 deficit to Chicago Fire II last week to claim its second victory in a row with a final score of 4-2. If Toronto FC II can shore up its defense, this will be a great matchup of Eastern Conference opponents.

Orlando City B vs New England Revolution II

After starting off the season with a Week 1 win over Chicago Fire 2 and a shootout victory against NYCFC II, Orlando City B has fallen on tough times losing in back-to-back weeks. OCB’s offense has stalled to a halt after scoring four goals in its first two games and will need to bounce back to have a chance against a formidable Revs II side.

New England Revolution II stands in second place in the Eastern Conference standings after earning eight points in three games. Revs II showed resilience after climbing back from a two-goal deficit against FC Cincinnati to earn its second consecutive win and claiming a spot among the

Chicago Fire II vs Philadelphia Union II

Chicago Fire II was on the cusp of earning its first MLS NEXT Pro victory against Toronto FC II last week but let a 2-1 lead slip to suffer its third loss of the season by the final score of 4-2. Things are looking up for Chicago Fire II’s offense as the two goals last weekend were the first of the season for the young squad. If Chicago Fire II can continue scoring they’ll be able to put up a valiant fight in search of the first win of the season.

Philadelphia Union II sits in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings with five points in three games. Union II’s  last contest came in Week 3 in a close home loss against Columbus Crew 2. After a week of rest, Union II will look to get back into the win column this week.

Whitecaps FC 2 vs Sporting KC II

Whitecaps FC 2 earned its first-ever MLS NEXT Pro victory during last week’s Game of the Week, knocking off Tacoma Defiance 2-1. WFC 2 forward Emiliano Brienza shined bright, scoring an 85th-minute winner and goalkeeper Ben Alexander made four key saves to keep Whitecaps FC 2 in the game. 

Sporting KC II is coming off crushing back-to-back losses to Houston Dynamo 2 and St. Louis CITY 2. After giving up an early lead to CITY2, SKCII attempted a come back but St Louis CITY2’s backline held strong for the win. Benny Feilhaber's side has had his team’s offense sputter during their last two outings and will benefit from a win to stay on track for the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs.

St Louis CITY2 vs MNUFC2

This game has been selected as the Game of the Week. Check out the extended preview here.

Timbers2 vs Real Monarchs

Both of these teams are in search of their first MLS NEXT Pro win. Timbers2 will have a golden opportunity at home when it hosts a Real Monarchs team that has only earned one point in three games this season.

By the time Monarchs face off against Timbers2, they will have been out of action for more than two weeks with their last game taking place on April 8. If the Monarchs can shake off the cobwebs and captain Pedro Fonseca can continue to score (three goals on the season), they’ll have a chance to climb out of the Western Conference basement.