The MLS NEXT Pro playoffs begin this weekend with Houston Dynamo 2 traveling to Starfire Sports Complex in Washington to face Tacoma Defiance on Sunday evening.
Houston Dynamo 2 knocks off North Texas SC in Texas Derby with 2-0 victory
Dynamo 2 closed out the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro regular season with a thorough 2-0 victory over in-state rivals North Texas SC on Sunday evening at AVEVA Stadium. With the win, Dynamo 2 ended the year in a three-way tie for first in the MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference with 49 points. Houston finished the season unbeaten at AVEVA Stadium, ending the year with a 9-0-1 mark on their home ground.
Defensively, Houston was one of the stingiest teams in the Western Conference and only conceded four goals at home all year. The team finished with 11 clean sheets and conceded 22 goals this season, tied for the fewest in the league. The team closed the regular season by allowing two goals in their last five games. Five goalkeepers combined to earn 11 clean sheets for Dynamo 2 this season with Xavier Valdez leading the pack with six.
Dynamo 2 and Tacoma split the two-game series during the regular season with both teams earning three points at home. Tacoma earned a 4-1 victory over Dynamo 2 on May 1 at Starfire Sports Complex. Midfielder Marcelo Palomino, who missed the match on May 1, scored the lone goal in Houston’s 1-0 victory over Tacoma at AVEVA Stadium on June 26.
Here are three key points ahead of Sunday's match:
- AVILA LEADS CHARGE FORWARD: Dynamo 2 forward Beto Avila has found a different gear over the last two games as he dishes out assists in key moments. Avila finished with two assists in Houston’s 2-0 victory over North Texas SC on Sunday and prior to that the 21-year-old tallied an assist on defender Mujeeb Murana’s game-winning goal against St Louis CITY 2 on Sept. 3 to clinch a spot in the postseason. The 21-year-old finished with five goals and four assists in MLS NEXT Pro league play and he split time with the first team. To date, the forward has earned eight appearances for the Dynamo in MLS this season.
- MAPLES REPRESENTS BACKLINE WITH LEAGUE HONOR: MLS NEXT Pro announced its inaugural Best XI earlier today, which featured Dynamo 2 captain Talen Maples. The defender led the team to 11 clean sheets this season and Dynamo 2 finished tied for the fewest goals conceded in the league with 22. Overall, the team only conceded two goals in their final five matches. Offensively, the 23-year-old scored three goals this season, including the go-ahead goal in Houston’s 3-2 triumph over North Texas SC at Toyota Park on April 23.
- TACOMA RETURNS TO POSTSEASON: Tacoma finished with a 14-6-4 record and a spot in postseason play for the first time since 2015, when the squad advanced to the USL Championship Playoffs and fell to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the first round. Tacoma was among the most efficient teams in the final third this year, as they finished second in the league with 57 goals. Defensively, they conceded 25 goals this season, which was in the top five playoff the league.