St Louis CITY2 (11-8-9, 47 points) welcomes San Jose Earthquakes II (11-10-7, 45 points) to CITYPARK for a meeting in the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs on Sunday, October 1. The match kicks off at 5:00 p.m. CT and will be streamed on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app.
CITY2 and Earthquakes II squared off twice during the regular season, with St. Louis going undefeated across the matchups. The reigning MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference champions took home a point when the teams played to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting and then secured all three points when Earthquakes II came to CITYPARK in August. The 1-1 draw, which occurred on July 23, was the first match in CITY2’s unbeaten run to close out the regular season.
With their 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City II last weekend, CITY2 extended its unbeaten streak to ten consecutive matches. It is the longest unbeaten streak in team history and the third longest streak in MLS NEXT Pro this season (trailing only Colorado Rapids 2 and New England Revolution II’s respective 12-match streaks). Propelled into fifth place in the Western Conference over the course of the run, the team has maintained its scorching form by dominating teams offensively, netting 27 goals and conceding just 10 over the ten-game stretch.
Midfielder Faysal Bettache scored CITY2’s lone goal against SKC II last weekend, giving him seven goals in the team’s last seven matches (including a hat-trick against Houston Dynamo 2 on September 3, the first hat-trick in team history). Bettache finished the regular season with 11 goal contributions (9 goals, 2 assists), trailing only midfielder John Klein's 17 goal contributions (13 goals, 4 assists) for the team lead. His 43 key passes during the regular season led CITY2 and were tied for tenth most in MLS NEXT Pro.
Picking up the assist on Bettache's goal against SKC II, midfielder Max Schneider finished the regular season with a team-leading six assists, tying him for ninth most in MLS NEXT Pro. Schneider's impact extended to the defensive end as well, as he led the team in duels won (283), finished fourth in interceptions (34) and ended the season fifth on the team in tackles won (28).
In home games during the regular season, CITY2 went 6-4-4 (25 points) with a plus-nine goal difference. The team won its last five home matches, scoring three or more goals in each match. On the other hand, Quakes II went 8-4-2 (25 points) with a plus-eight goal difference on the road during the regular season, although two of those four losses have come over the team’s last three road matches.
Earthquakes II finished as the sixth seed in the MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference, securing their spot in the playoffs with a 1-0 victory over LAFC2 on Decision Day. Midfielder Eduardo Blancas spearheaded Quakes II’s offense during the regular season, tallying 12 goals, 3 assists and the second-most key passes in MLS NEXT Pro (52). Midfielder Ousseni Bouda also came into attacking form in recent weeks, scoring three goals over the team’s last two matches to finish with seven goals on the season.