COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - Colorado Rapids 2 (18-4-5, 63 pts) will face off against MNUFC2 (10-9-8, 43 pts) at University of Denver Soccer Stadium on Sunday, September 24, for the team’s final match of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro regular season (3:00 p.m. MT; MLS Season Pass on Apple TV).
Rapids 2 enters the Sunday afternoon match in search of clinching the number one seed in all of MLS NEXT Pro. The team is one win away from securing its place at the top of the league table, which will earn the Rapids the right to host the MLS NEXT Pro Cup should the team advance through the first three rounds of playoffs. Standing in the team’s way is Eastern Conference competitor Crown Legacy FC. The two teams are currently tied for the most points in the league with only a nine-goal difference separating the two sides. If Crown Legacy FC and Rapids 2 secure three points on decision day, the nine-goal advantage should allow Colorado to earn the number one spot in the league heading into the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs.
The Rapids are coming off a 2-1 victory over Austin FC II that saw Rémi Cabral record a brace on the night. Cabral’s two-goal game boosted the striker to 16 goals on the season, which positions him in first place on the team and tied for second in the league for goals scored this season. The Frenchman is now two goals away from tying Orlando City B’s Jack Lynn and NYCFC II’s Matt Myers 18 goals, which places both of them in first place in the league’s Golden Boot race.
In addition to Cabral, midfielders Marlon Vargas and Oliver Larraz currently hold MLS NEXT Pro titles of their own. As it stands, Vargas leads the league in assists with nine this season while Larraz tops the chart for key passes with 52. Larraz is also one goal and two assists away from being the first-ever player in MLS NEXT Pro to put up a double-double season.
Outside of individual player accomplishments, Rapids 2 sits in a comfortable first place position for team goals this season with 66 goals to their name. Colorado also currently holds the title for most assists this season with 48 across 26 matches. With only one regular season match left, it is likely that the team will end the year in a dominant fashion, doubling both their points earned and goals accumulated during their inaugural season in MLS NEXT Pro.
Heading into Sunday’s match, Rapids 2 will look to replicate its first meeting with Minnesota. The 4-1 victory at the National Sports Center saw Cabral record his first of four braces this season while midfielder Connor Miller put up his first goal for Rapids 2 in the 2023 season. Larraz was the additional goal scorer on the night.
For Minnesota, Sunday’s match holds postseason implications as the team has yet to secure a spot in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. In order to lock down one of the two remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference, MNUFC2 must earn one or more points against the Rapids or hope for an Earthquakes II loss in the team’s match against LAFC2.
Minnesota currently sits in sixth in the Western Conference standings with 43 points and a 10-9-8 regular season record. The team has been putting up a consistent effort so far in September with two draws and a 3-2 win against Sporting KC II in their most recent match. Having not qualified for playoffs in 2022, Minnesota is searching to make its first-ever playoff appearance with a win or a draw on Sunday afternoon.