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MLS NEXT Sep 23, 2022

MLS NEXT Pro award winners announced following inaugural season

NEW YORK CITY – MLS NEXT Pro announced the winners of its regular season awards, honoring the best in the league’s inaugural season of play.

Columbus Crew 2’s Laurent Courtois has been named Coach of the Year and Crew 2’s Patrick Schulte has been awarded Goalkeeper of the Year.  The Best XI is made up of the top players at each position and represents eight Clubs in MLS NEXT Pro.

All awards were voted on by the head coaches and Chief Soccer Officers at MLS NEXT Pro Clubs, as well as League broadcast and content teams.

Crew 2’s head coach Laurent Courtois led his team to the best record (55 points, 16-3-5) in MLS NEXT Pro, the top seed in the Eastern Conference in the upcoming MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs and the Central Division title. Under his guidance, Columbus was first in the League in points, wins, goals for (62), goal differential (+40) and had the best record at home (11-1-0). The team also had the fewest losses and was tied for the fewest goals allowed (22).  Courtois saw two of his MLS NEXT Pro players, Jacen Russell-Rowe and Mo Farsi,  sign Columbus Crew first team contracts during the season.  Other finalists for Coach of the Year were Rochester New York FC’s Bruno Baltazar, St Louis CITY2’s John Hackworth and Tacoma Defiance’s Wade Webber.

Columbus goalkeeper Patrick Schulte (10-1-4) was a key factor in his team’s success in the regular season.  He started 15 games, playing 1,350 minutes and allowing just 15 total goals.  His goals against average (1.0) and win percentage (66.7%) were the best in the League among goalkeepers who played in more than half their team’s matches. Schulte’s 10 wins were tied for the most in MLS NEXT Pro and his seven clean sheets were second in the League. Other finalists for Goalkeeper of the Year were Rochester New York FC’s Caique, North Texas SC’s Antonio Carrera, Toronto FC II’s Luka Gavran and Philadelphia Union II’s Matthew Freese.

The MLS NEXT Pro Best XI is as follows:

Goalkeeper (1):
Patrick Schulte – Columbus Crew 2

Defenders (3):
Mo Farsi – Columbus Crew 2
Kyle Hiebert – St Louis CITY2
Talen Maples – Houston Dynamo 2

Midfielders (4):
Pedro Dolabella – Rochester New York FC
Aziel Jackson – MNUFC2
Isaiah Parente – Columbus Crew 2
Marlon Vargas – Tacoma Defiance

Forwards (3):
Bernard Kamungo – North Texas SC
Jack Lynn – Orlando City B
Jacen Russell-Rowe – Columbus Crew 2

Nine of the Best XI players will participate in the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs beginning this weekend with the Conference Semifinals.

Following the conclusion of the regular season last Sunday, Crew 2’s Russell-Rowe was crowned MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot winner after scoring 21 goals in 19 games. The final award of the regular season, the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro MVP will be announced Wednesday, October 5.