The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro schedule has dropped and another year of MNUFC2 action is upon us.
Cam Knowles’ side will look to bounce back in year two following a tough inaugural season, where the “Twos” finished sixth in the Western Conference and outside the playoffs. The squad will also be without their 2022 player of the season in Aziel Jackson, who was traded to MLS newbies St. Louis CITY SC in the offseason.
MNUFC2 will kickoff their 2023 campaign against Real Monarchs on March 24 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. The Monarchs were a side that MNUFC2 pulled the double on in 2022, winning once in regular time and then taking two points via a draw + penalty kick shootout win in the second meeting.
With the new season just nine days away, here is everything you will need to know about the schedule, rules, playoffs and more.
The Doubloon Droppings
How to watch: Opening day will be streamed on MLS Season pass on Apple TV, however, the entire campaign will not be. “A select number of MNUFC2 regular-season matches, plus all MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day matches, playoffs matches and MLS NEXT Pro Cup, will be available to watch live and on-demand on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app,” reads MNUFC2’s official release. “The remainder of regular season matches will stream live on mlsnextpro.com. MLS Season Pass is the subscription service from Apple and Major League Soccer that is home to all MLS and Leagues Cup matches and hundreds of MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches.”
Where will they play: The home of MNUFC2 in 2022 will be the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN. The Twos will compete in the Frontier Division of the Western Conference
A reminder on the rules:
- No Draws: Matches will head to penalty kicks if tied at the end of regulation, with the winner of the shootout claiming an additional point from the match.
- Under the Off-field Treatment Rule: “If a player is suspected to have an injury and is on the ground for longer than 15 seconds, medical personnel will come onto the field to evaluate the player and assist him off. Once the player is off the field, the player will be treated by the medical staff and will be required to remain off the field for three minutes.”
- Under the Red Card Suspension Rule: If a red card is issued to a player, the suspension will be played against that same team in the two club’s next meeting.
NEW MLS NEXT Pro rule:
- “To further decrease preventable match delays and increase effective match time, this season will see the addition of a new Timed Substitution Rule, which will allow a maximum of 10 seconds for a player to leave the field when he is substituted. If the player does not leave the field of play within the 10 seconds, the replacement player will only be able to enter after a 60 second holding period, resulting in the offending team playing a man down for a minimum of one minute.”
New Playoff format: The top seven teams from each conference will advance to the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, where there will be three rounds of matches followed by MLS NEXT Pro Cup. The winner of the regular season will have a first-round bye.
Now, here is the twist.
- The Conference quarterfinals: The top two seeds in each conference will CHOOSE their playoff opponent and host the match, with the two sides not selected facing off with the higher seed hosting. The highest seed will choose first.
- The Conference Semifinals: The highest seed remaining in the conference will choose their opponent and host the match, with the remaining two sides playing the other match with the high seed hosting.
- The Conference Finals: The High seed will host.
- MLS NEXT Pro Cup: The team with the most regular season points will host.
First home game: The first home contest of the campaign will be on May 7, with MNUFC2 heading out on the road for the first six matches of the season. The home opener will take place once the dome over the pitch at the NSC is taken down.
Three Notable matches:
- MNUFC2 will host newcomers LAFC2 on July 16 in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. The reigning MLS Cup Champions MLS NEXT Pro side will debut for their inaugural campaign in 2023.
- North Texas SC (H) vs MNUFC2 (A) on April 16. In three meetings during 2022, MNUFC2 failed to claim a single point against the FC Dallas MLS NEXT Pro affiliate.
- St Louis CITY2 (H) vs MNUFC2 (A) on April 2. The match presents an opportunity for Aziel Jackson’s return to the pitch, but this time around, against his former side in MNUFC2.
Decision Day 2023: MNUFC2 will travel to Colorado to take on Rapids 2 on the final day of the season.