MLS NEXT Rising Star of Matchday 28: David Vazquez


The 2023 edition of MLS NEXT Pro's Decision Day offered a stage for heroes to emerge. 

The final two playoff tickets were up for grabs in the Eastern Conference, and Philadelphia Union II can thank one of their youngsters for lifting a huge weight off their shoulders in the final minutes of their battle with New York Red Bulls II.  

Any team in a Decision Day scenario will tell you that a one-goal lead needs more insurance, and 17-year-old Philadelphia Union Academy man entered scene to deliver the dagger in Sunday's 3-1 win over their Northeast Division foe. 

This marks Vazquez's second Rising Star of the Matchday honor, and Union II's sixth of the season, the most of any team in the debut year of the award.

Here is a closer look at the strike that made Union II's return to the playoffs a no-doubter.

It also rounds out a fantastic year for the Academy star. In all, Vazquez's regular season saw him in 21 games (17 starts), with five goals and two assists to his name respectively. 

He and Union II now shift their attention to the postseason. A seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference puts them in line to potentially be selected by New England Revolution II or Columbus Crew 2. But that might not be a wise move. Union II got the last ride into the playoffs thanks in large part to a three-game winning streak where they have looked excellent. 

Be sure to keep a close eye on for the latest developments in the new pick-your-opponent format.