Week 8

MLS NEXT Pro: Week 8 Preview

Week 8 of MLS NEXT Pro action gets underway this weekend, with four games on Saturday and five on Sunday. Let's take a look at how each team is doing heading into their matches this weekend:

Saturday, May 14

MNUFC2 vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (6 p.m. ET)

After taking a couple of weeks off, MNUFC2 showed a bit of rust when they faced Chicago Fire II last weekend. MNUFC2 couldn't extend its three-game winning streak and walked away with a 7-6 shootout victory. Nonetheless, the two points Minnesota United 2 earned allow them to continue to be in the running for one of the playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The number one ranked team in the MLS NEXT Pro Top 5 rankings, Houston Dynamo 2, bounced back from their only defeat of the season to earn a 2-0 victory at home over Colorado Rapids 2 last week. Their offense and defense continue to operate at high gear boasting a goal difference of +8, a number that only NYCFCII can match this season. One key question to keep an eye out for Dynamo 2 is who will pick up the scoring slack once Roberto Avila completes his move on to the Houston Dynamo first team.

RNY FC vs Inter Miami II (6 p.m. ET)

While their midweek matchup against the reigning MLS Cup winners New York City FC ended their dreams of lifting the U.S Open Cup, RNY FC can continue to build on their MLS NEXT Pro campaign.

RNY FC earned their first-ever MLS NEXT Pro victory last week thanks to Milan Vanacker and Pedro Dolabella when they visited FC Cincinnati 2 at NKU Soccer Stadium. Bruno Baltazar's side will have the opportunity to earn their first-ever home victory when they host Inter Miami II at Monroe Community College.

After a solid start to their MLS NEXT Pro campaign, Inter Miami II are now on the outskirts of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after failing to hold on to an early lead against Philadelphia Union II last week. Inter Miami II fought valiantly to even the score during the last 45 minutes of the match, controlling the majority of possession and earning more shots on goal but were unable to break through. After last weekend's loss, Darren Powell's side has lost to each of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference standings and will need a strong showing against RNY FC to get back to their winnings ways.

TFC II vs. New England Revolution II (6 p.m. ET)

After six MLS NEXT Pro games, the difference is clear for TFC II - they are tough to beat at home.

After sx games, their record stands at an even 3-3-0, with all of their victories coming at home and all of their losses occurring on the road. 

Their latest loss came on the road at the hands of NYCFC II, who picked up a 4-1 victory. With one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in New England Revolution II, visiting them this week, TFC II will have a chance to prove to themselves, and everyone in MLS NEXT Pro that they belong among the top teams in their conference.

The game against Columbus Crew 2 got away from New England Revolution II quickly last week, giving up four goals in the first period of play en route to suffering their only loss of the season. The game against TFC II is the perfect opportunity to bounce back and continue in the race for a playoff position.

North Texas SC vs. Whitecaps FC 2 (9 p.m. ET)

In a clash of the second and third squads in the Western Conference standings, the surging Whitecaps FC 2 bring their four-game winning streak to Choctaw Stadium to face North Texas SC.

Whitecaps FC 2 fell behind early in St. Louis last week, but Robert Antoniuk and Emiliano Brienza took care of business with both scoring during the final 15 minutes of the game to give WFC2 its fourth consecutive victory. 

North Texas SC has cooled off after a blistering start to its campaign. Last week North Texas SC lost a 4-2 shootout to Tacoma Defiance. The North Texas SC's offense controlled most of the possession and even had seven shots on target during the game but could not add another goal before time expired. A victory for either team will guarantee them second place in the Western Conference.

Sunday, May 15

NYCFC II vs. Columbus Crew 2 (4 p.m. ET)

Crew 2

A five-game winning steak has catapulted Crew 2 to the top of the Eastern Conference and into the conversation for the best team in MLS NEXT Pro. Noah Fusion and Jacen Rusell-Rowe scored in the victory against Revs 2 last weekend. Their defense continued to perform amicably and kept a clean sheet for the fourth time this season, tied for best in the league. 

Coming off back-to-back losses, NYCFC II got back into the winning column, defeating TFC II with a resounding score of 4-1. 

The hottest scoring team in MLS NEXT Pro, NYCFC II, has scored 20 goals this season, four more than anyone else. Matt Pilkington's side is currently undefeated at home and will have their biggest challenge yet when the Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew 2 visit Belson Stadium this week.

Chicago Fire II vs. FC Cincinnati 2

This game has been the MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week. The extended preview for this game can be found here.

Tacoma Defiance vs. Real Monarchs (10 p.m. ET)

The Tacoma Defiance walked away from facing both Texas-based teams over the past two weeks with a convincing victory over the top team in the league in Houston Dynamo 2 and a shootout victory on the road against North Texas SC. Not bad for a team that continues to climb up the Western Conference standings after struggling for most of April.

Tacoma Defiance now hosts the only team they have kept a clean sheet against in Real Monarchs and could move into fifth place in the Western Conference if MUNFC2 does not get a positive result against Dynamo 2. 

Real Monarchs are still searching for their first MLS NEXT Pro victory and will have to play their best soccer of the season if they look to get past Tacoma Defiance, a team they lost to 4-0 during the inaugural week of play.

Timbers2 vs. Sporting KC II (10 p.m. ET)

Another team that has yet to earn their first MLS NEXT Pro victory, Timbers2, will host Sporting KC II at Hillsboro Stadium this Sunday. 

Timbers2 head into this game on a two-game losing streak, giving up six goals in the process. They have been able to win both of their Shoutouts this season but will need a complete effort during the entire 90 minutes of play to earn their first 3 points against Sporting KC II.

Last weekend, a 4-2 victory over Real Monarchs halted a four-game skid for Sporting KC II. Benny Feilhaber's side turned it on in the second half and tallied four unanswered goals to their second victory of the season.

SKCII's 16-year-old forward Mataeo Bunbury impressed many by scoring a brace during the game and keeping a perfect record by scoring on each of his three shots on target this season.

Earthquakes II vs. Colorado Rapids 2 (10:30 p.m. ET)

Earthquakes II earned their second victory of the season, and their first win in over a month, after they defeated Timbers2 at home this past Sunday. Three different players scored for Quakes II, bringing the total number of players who have netted goals this season to six.

Quakes II can build momentum with a victory over Colorado Rapids 2 and start moving into the upper half of the Western Conference standings. 

Colorado Rapids have yet to keep a clean sheet this season, giving up 11 goals in five games. Erik Bushey's squad fought valiantly against Houston Dynamo 2 but ran out of steam after a great first half of play. Rapids 2 have lost each of their three away games and will need an excellent performance against a Quakes II side that tends to perform better at home.