MLS NEXT Pro News: MLS NEXT Pro Monthly Awards, June 2022

(courtesy MLS Next Pro)

The MLSNEXTPro.com editorial team, several league personnel, announcers, and the clubs themselves voted on the top performers across the league during June, declaring a Team, Coach, Goalkeeper, and Player of the month.

The voting process entailed performances taken from June 1 to June 30, with votes tallied June 27-30.

Player of the Month: Jacen Russell-Rowe

Columbus Crew 2 forward Jacen Russell-Rowe is awarded the MLS NEXT Pro player of the month award for the second straight month. The top scorer across the league has been an incredibly influential figure for Crew 2 all season, and during June, he continued that role. Russell-Rowe scored 5 goals and added 1 assist during four games played in June, including a brace against OCB.

His stellar performances at the striker position also caught the eyes of the first-team technical staff, with the 19-year-old being awarded an MLS contract on Tuesday, June 27.

Russell-Rowe made his MLS debut on Wednesday, June 28, and tallied two assists in the first half; he was the first MLS player to ever assist twice in the opening 45 minutes on his debut. It’s important to note that Rusell-Rowe was on a league-record 9-game scoring streak in MLS NEXT Pro before signing with the first team.

This was Russell-Rowe’s second nomination and second time winning.

Crew 2 head coach Laurent Courtois applauded Jacen for his role with the team over the last month and added how delighted he was to see his hard work recognized. “It’s a very special moment for Jacen. He works hard in the field and the whole staff – players, coaches, the whole Crew 2 platform and Club – are very happy for him.” 

Russell-Rowe looks at the award as a team effort but is glad his work on the pitch is being noticed.

“It’s a great feeling. The team is also doing very well again and will just keep building on it. I wouldn’t have been able to win this award without my teammates and how the team is performing, so we just need to continue that,” he said.

Other nominees

  • Jack Lynn, Orlando City B
  • Simon Becher, Whitecaps FC2
  • Marlon Vargas, Tacoma Defiance
  • Bernard Kamungo, North Texas SC
  • Max Schneider, CITY 2

Team of the Month: St Louis CITY 2

CITY 2 were an absolute force during June with a 4-0-1 record through all five matches, including an additional point gained in their only draw courtesy of a 4-3 victory over Houston Dynamo 2 in kicks from the spot. Three of the five matches saw their defense keep a clean sheet while the CITY 2 attack found their groove simultaneously, scoring 13 total goals.

To make it even more impressive, of the 14 points (out of a possible 15) gained, eight of them came on the road during June. Their spectacular form has seen them climb up the Western Conference table, where they now sit level on points for the No. 1 spot with North Texas SC but are pushed to No. 2 due to criteria points.

This is their second nomination but first win.

St. Louis CITY SC Sporting Director Lutz Pfannenstiel on CITY2 being awarded team of the month:

“This achievement is a testament to all the work the staff and players have put in over the last few months. I’m even more so happy about the results we have been getting and our position at the top of the table, as it is an indication that the players are adapting well to the principles of our playing style and the progress we have made as a team. This is great recognition for our team, however, we are also very aware that there is a lot of work ahead of us to continue our development.”

Other nominees

  • Earthquakes II
  • Tacoma Defiance
  • Columbus Crew 2
  • Toronto FC II
  • North Texas SC

Goalkeeper of the Month: Caique

Rochester New York FC goalkeeper Caique was a genuine brick wall in front of the net for the only non-affiliated MLS NEXT Pro side during June. The Brazilian kept one clean sheet through four matches, only conceded three goals in four games, and had three shootout victories. In total, he made 13 saves across 16 shots on target.

Caique’s June highlight came against league leaders Columbus Crew 2 when the 24-year-old made a crucial save in kicks from the spot after a 0-0 draw, earning Man of the Match honors in the process.

RNY FC is a perfect five-for-five in kicks from the spot this season now, with Caique proving to be a shootout expert between the sticks.

RNY FC head coach Bruno Baltazar has been thrilled with his goalkeepers’ performances of late, adding that he has the potential to be an MLS-level goalkeeper.

“When we signed Caique we knew the quality that he could bring to the team and I’m happy for him for the award. He needs to keep focused and work hard to be the best Gk of the season and bounce to the MLS.”

This is Caique’s second nomination but first time winning.

“First I want to thank God for this achievement of being chosen as the goalkeeper of the month of June among many other good goalkeepers that he has in the league and also to congratulate my goalkeeper coach Michael Flynn for the work he comes to do daily with me and my teammates,” Caique said. “This makes me work harder and harder to conquer other moments like this I’m happy for that but I have a bigger object together with my teammates and technical commission a big hug to all Black Cats,” the Brazilian goalkeeper said after winning his award.

Other nominees

  • Luka Gavran, TFC II
  • CJ Dos Santos, Inter Miami II
  • Ian McGrane, CITY 2
  • Alex Rando, NYCFC II

Coach of the Month: John Hackworth, CITY 2

Hackworth’s side was awarded the team of the month award during June, but they wouldn’t be there without their gaffer. Hackworth’s tactical decisions, lineup choices, and belief in his squad as a manager helped them to a stellar five-game stretch.

Tied for first place in the Western Conference, CITY 2 claimed a possible 14 out of 15 points during June. 

This is Hackworth’s second nomination but his first time winning the award.

CITY2 Head Coach John Hackworth on winning the Coach of the Month award:

“I appreciate this recognition, but our staff and players are definitely the ones who deserve all the credit. We had a tough road schedule in the middle of June and to manage it the way we did was impressive.”

Other nominees

  • Wade Webber, Tacoma Defiance
  • Pa-Modou Kah, North Texas SC
  • Gianni Cimini. TFC II
  • Laurent Courtois, Crew 2

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