LA Galaxy II v MNUFC2
Dignity Health Sports Park | Carson, California
04.09.2023 | MLS NEXT Pro Game No. 3
7:00 p.m. CT | Streaming on MLSNEXTPro.com
MNUFC2 will continue the road show this week when they head to the Golden State to take on MLS NEXT Pro newbies, LA Galaxy II. This weekend’s match will be their third away game in a row, marking the midway point of their six-game road stretch to open 2023. Despite playing without the comfort of home, the Loons have picked up two impressive wins to start the season and will be hoping to keep that momentum rolling on Sunday.
As he looked forward to the third game of the season, MNUFC2 Head Coach Cameron Knowles stressed the importance of keeping high standards, regardless of the team’s form.
“We don’t judge where we are as a group based on a performance or a result, good or bad,” he said. “We have to continue to develop individuals and the collective group as we move forward. The aim is for whoever is on the field to keep a high standard. With our effort and our organization, we know we have some quality that can definitely change a game, but the guys need to keep pushing each week and holding themselves and each other to a high standard.”
After outscoring their opponents 6-1 across two games, the Loons sit in first place in MLS NEXT Pro’s weekly power rankings. Midfielder Diogo Pacheco leads the team in scoring with three goals already, while Juan Mosquera and Academy player Leo Conneh each have one goal on the season. MNUFC’s Cameron Dunbar scored the winner against St. Louis CITY2 last week, a superb free-kick in the 85th minute.
But the impressive goal difference only scratches the surface of this fast start. Though they play entirely different schedules, the success of the first team has directly affected the second team. Coach Knowles acknowledged the impact that player movement has already had on his squad this year.
“We’ve been fortunate with two good results to start the season, with two largely different groups as well,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of players coming in and going out. In this last one, we had the availability of a lot of first team players that were involved in their game the night before and added a different look to our group.”
On top of the first-team players that joined the squad last week, MNUFC2 midfielder Molik Jesse Khan returned from his recent call-up to the Trinidad and Tobago national team. After getting his first full 90 minutes with the Twos squad this year under his belt, Khan spoke about where his team’s success is coming from.
“In the first half, we had some moments where we were very passive,” he said. “We gave the ball up easily, but in the few moments that we actually put the ball down and played, we made it difficult for them. We were much better in the second half when we did exactly that. We took the game to them, and we got the result. We’ve got to keep setting the same standard that the first team sets. The way they play, the way they get behind the ball, the way they give their all to keep the unbeaten streak going. For myself, I just have to do what the coaches order me to do and give my all to the team.”
This weekend will see MNUFC2 and MNUFC playing in different parts of the country, so exchanging players will prove to be more challenging than last matchday. Regardless of who’s on the roster when the whistle blows, this young second team is proving that they are more than capable of performing at a high level.
With four more road games until the home opener, Coach Knowles is focused on preparing his squad for the challenge that lies ahead.
“It’s going to be another difficult game,” he said. “We’re on the road; none of these games are easy, six games on the road to start is difficult. I think the composition of their team now versus what they were as a USL team is a little bit different, but they’ve still got good players. They’ve got a really good team, and it’s going to be a challenge for us to keep our standards high and keep our results coming.”
The match against Galaxy II kicks off at 7:00 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 9. Visit MLSNEXTPro.com to watch MNUFC2 try and keep their winning streak alive in Carson, California.