Preview: MLS NEXT Pro Week 16

Week 16 of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season sees one midweek match take place followed by a full Sunday slate of soccer with nine matches being played across the day. As the second half of the season heats up, so does the playoff race.

Thursday, July 7

RNY FC vs Philadelphia Union II, 7:00 pm ET

Following a postponed Week 15 contest against Columbus Crew 2, Union II and their fresh legs will hit the road to take on the red-hot RNY FC. The hosts are unbeaten in their last three matches while Union II have not claimed three points since a 1-0 win over Orlando City B on May 16.

The two sides met on May 21, with RNY FC taking all three points in a 3-0 road victory that eventually helped the club earn the MLS NEXT Pro team of the month honors.

With just six points separating the two sides heading into the week, and RNY FC holding onto the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, it will be a must-win match for both sides.

Sunday, July 10

FC Cincinnati 2 vs Chicago Fire II, 6:00 pm ET

Fire II have one win in their past seven matches, but are looking to bounce back against a struggling FCC2 side on the road. FCC2 have lost three straight going into the contest, and overall, have only gathered three wins throughout their inaugural campaign. However, they have a chance to earn a crucial three points against a Fire II side that has also struggled of late.

This contest features the No. 9 and No. 10 seeded Eastern Conference, with each side desperate for three points to reignite their season.

New England Revolution II vs NYCFC II, 6:00 pm ET

Revs II play host to NYCFC II in a battle of two of the top Eastern Conference sides. The No. 2 ranked Revs II sit one point ahead of the No. 3 seeded NYCFC II, with both sides desperate for a crucial three points to continue climbing the East.

The hosts are coming off of a disappointing Week 15 showing, where they drew TFC II 1-1 and failed to take the extra point in kicks from the spot. Now, they’re looking to return to form against a top Eastern Conference contender.

NYCFC II have won two straight and impressed in Week 15, defeating FCC2 5-1, but to continue their trek towards the top, three points is a must.

Orlando City B vs Inter Miami II, 7:00 pm ET

It’s an intra-state battle between Florida’s two teams competing in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season, with Inter Miami II and Orlando City B meeting for the second time this season. In their first meeting, OCB was dominant and put on an attacking clinic with a 6-0 win on their home grounds. Now, however, Inter Miami II play host and will look to protect their home grounds.

OCB is coming off of a disappointing 3-2 loss to RNY FC while Inter Miami II has won two straight and looked impressive in their 3-1 victory over Fire II in Week 15.

For two outliers in the Eastern Conference playoff race, three points are on the mind as they take aim to climb the table.

Toronto FC II vs Columbus Crew 2, 7:00 pm ET

Crew 2’s Week 15 contest was postponed, so the league leaders will take their fresh legs on the road and across the border to take on an in-form TFC II side. The hosts are coming off an impressive 1-1 draw against Revs II where they took the additional point in kicks from the spot, but overall, are unbeaten in their last three matches.o

Crew 2 still sit atop the overall rankings across the league despite having played one match less than most of their contenders. The two sides met on May 22, where Crew 2 took all three points in a 4-2 victory.

TFC II have their biggest test yet as they host the league leaders, but if they want to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference table, this contest presents an opportunity to make a statement.

Colorado Rapids 2 vs Sporting KC II, 8:00 pm ET

Rapids 2 host SKC II in a Western Conference clash between the No. 8 and No. 9 ranked sides. The two sides met on opening weekend, playing out to a 1-1 draw that ended with Rapids 2 taking the extra point in kicks from the spot.

Week 15 saw SKC II end a three-match losing streak in impressive fashion, knocking off North Texas SC 4-2 in a statement win.

Rapids 2 haven’t played since week 13, but they put four past Timbers 2 in a 4-2 victory in their last showing.

Now, for two Western Conference playoff spot outliers, it’s time to get the second half of their season going and it starts with three points against a conference contender.

Houston Dynamo 2 vs Real Monarchs, 8:00 pm ET

Dynamo Dos host a struggling Real Monarchs side who just earned their first win of the campaign in Week 15 in a clash between two opposite sides of the Western Conference table.

Dynamo Dos are coming off an incredibly competitive 1-1 draw against Earthquakes II that saw them take the additional point in kicks from the spot. Real Monarchs on the other hand just earned their first three points of the season in a dominant 4-0 win over Timbers2.

The contest presents an opportunity for each side as the No. 4 Dynamo Dos look to continue their climb up the table, while the No. 11 Real Monarchs look for their second win in as many weeks.

North Texas SC vs Earthquakes II, 8:30 pm ET

In a clash between two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference, North Texas SC hosts Earthquakes II as both teams look to certify their role as a powerhouse.

Earthquakes II are an outlier in the playoff race as they actively sit, but four games unbeaten have all eyes on them as they continue their climb up the Western Conference table.

North Texas SC has been a top contender all season and currently sits atop the West. However, a Week 15 showing that saw them drop points to SKC II gives the away side all the confidence they need heading into the contest.

MNUFC 2 vs St Louis CITY 2, 9:00 pm ET

MNUFC 2 hosts City 2 in a clash between two in-form Western Conference playoff contenders. The Loons put on a dominant performance in Week 15, shutting out WFC2 on their home grounds 2-0. The No. 6 ranked Loons have a game in-hand of the teams ahead of them and with three points in week 16, would find themselves above the playoff line.

The No. 2 ranked CITY 2 earned both coach of the month and Team of the Month during June and have been one of the hottest teams this summer. They sit one point behind the No. 1 ranked North Texas SC but are coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss to Rapids 2 in Week 15.

Timbers 2 vs Tacoma Defiance, 10:00 pm ET

The No. 3 ranked Defiance hit the road and take on the No. 10 ranked Timbers 2 in a clash between two of the Pacific Northwest sides.

Defiance have been one of the hottest teams this campaign, but have not played since week 14 where they fell to Dynamo Dos 1-0. However, prior to that match they went nine games unbeaten.

Timbers 2 gave Real Monarchs their first three points of the campaign in Week 15, falling 4-0. Now, they’ll look to get back on track and play the upset card.