VANCOUVER, BC – MLS NEXT Pro unveiled the 2023 regular season schedule on Tuesday, with Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) set to kick off at home on Sunday, March 26.
- Whitecaps FC season ticket members receive free access to all WFC2 home matches as part of their MLS season ticket membership ($140 value).
- The majority of regular season matches, plus all Decision Day matches, playoffs matches and MLS NEXT Pro Cup, will be available to watch live and on-demand on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app. The remainder will be streamed at mlsnextpro.com.
- The 2023 season will feature an expanded playoffs format that includes a pick-your-opponent element in the first two rounds.
Whitecaps FC will once again play their home matches at Swangard Stadium, with the venue for four home matches in July and August to be confirmed. The club also confirmed that the team will continue to play under the Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) name and brand this season.
Whitecaps FC season ticket members receive free access to all WFC2 home matches as part of their MLS season ticket membership ($140 value). Season ticket members can book tickets by signing up for a Universe account and using their access key.
Single match tickets can be purchased for $10 online at whitecapsfc.com/tickets or at the gate. All seats are general admission.
WFC2 will start and end their 2023 season against Cascadia rivals. The ‘Caps open the season at Swangard Stadium against Timbers 2 on Sunday, March 26. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. PT. The regular season will conclude on Decision Day on Sunday, September 24 when they play at Tacoma Defiance at 2 p.m. PT.
Select MLS NEXT Pro matches will be broadcast live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, with the remainder streamed at mlsnextpro.com.
The 'Caps enter their second MLS NEXT Pro season, and first under head coach Ricardo Clark. In their inaugural season the side finished in third place in the Pacific Division, and seventh in the Western Conference. WFC2 led MLS NEXT Pro in short-term call-ups to MLS in 2022, while goalkeeper Max Anchor, fullback Ali Ahmed, and striker Simon Becher all signed MLS contracts.
WFC2 will play the newly founded MLS NEXT Pro sides for Austin FC and LAFC for the first time in 2023, as well as a reunion against LA Galaxy II, who they last played in 2017.
For more information on the team, visit whitecapsfc.com/wfc2.
DECISION DAY 2023
All but one of the 27 clubs in the League will compete on the final day of the regular season, Sunday, September 24. Thirteen matches will take place to determine final playoff spots and seeding, with seven teams in each conference qualifying for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. Eastern Conference matches will kick off at 11 a.m. PT, followed by the Western Conference at 2 p.m. PT. All Decision Day matches will be available live and on-demand on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app.
NEW PLAYOFFS FORMAT
The 2023 season will feature an expanded playoffs format that includes a pick-your-opponent element in the first two rounds.
Within each conference, the two division champions and the five clubs with the next highest points (seven clubs total) will advance to the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. The Playoffs will consist of three rounds followed by MLS NEXT Pro Cup, taking place over four consecutive weeks beginning the weekend of September 29.
The club with the most regular season points in each conference (#1 seed) will earn a first-round bye, automatically advancing to the Conference Semifinals.
- The next two teams with the most points in each conference (#2 and #3 seeds) will choose their opponent and host their match (one of two teams must be the other division champion)
- The two remaining teams that are not selected will play each other, with the higher seeded team hosting
- The team with the most overall points in the conference (#1 seed) will choose its opponent from the remaining two lowest seeded teams and host the match
- The second highest seed will host the remaining team
- The team with the most regular season points (higher seed) will host the team with the lowest points (lower seed)
MLS NEXT Pro Cup:
- The team with the most regular season points (higher seed) will host MLS NEXT Pro Cup
There will be no ties in MLS NEXT Pro once again in 2023. Shootouts using kicks from the penalty mark will return this season to decide a match that is tied after regulation. Both teams will receive one point each for the tie, with the winner of the shootout receiving one additional point (two points total). In 2022, 20% of matches resulted in a shootout.
Implemented midway through last season, both the Off-field Treatment Rule and Red Card Suspension Rule will also return in 2023.
Under the Off-field Treatment Rule: If a player is suspected to have an injury and is on the ground for longer than 15 seconds, medical personnel will come onto the field to evaluate the player and assist him off. Once the player is off the field, the player will be treated by the medical staff and will be required to remain off the field for three minutes.
Under the Red Card Suspension Rule: if a player receives a red card, he will serve the resulting one-game suspension against that same opponent.
To further decrease preventable match delays and increase effective match time, this season will see the addition of a new Timed Substitution Rule, which will allow a maximum of 10 seconds for a player to leave the field when he is substituted. If the player does not leave the field of play within the 10 seconds, the replacement player will only be able to enter after a 60 second holding period, resulting in the offending team playing a man down for a minimum of one minute.
With the addition of seven new clubs this season, the Western Conference will consist of 14 clubs, while the Eastern Conference will have 13. Three of the four divisions will feature seven clubs each, while the Northeast will have six. The Eastern Conference will add Atlanta United 2 and Huntsville City FC to the Central Division and New York Red Bulls II and Crown Legacy FC to the Northeast Division. In the Western Conference, LA Galaxy II and LAFC2 will both join the Pacific Division while Austin FC II joins the Frontier Division.
SUBSCRIBING TO MLS SEASON PASS_
*_With an MLS Season Pass subscription, fans can enjoy all MLS and Leagues Cup matches, and hundreds of MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT games, on billions of devices through the Apple TV app on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices, set-top boxes, and game consoles, as well as on the web at tv.apple.com. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share the subscription using their own Apple ID and password.
To watch MLS Season Pass, customers must update to iOS 16.2 or later, iPadOS 16.2 or later, tvOS 16.2 or later, and macOS 13.1 or later.
About MLS NEXT Pro
Launched in 2022 by Major League Soccer, MLS NEXT Pro is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that completes the pro player pathway. MLS NEXT Pro continues to grow the game through innovation and diversity, bringing professional soccer to new communities and creating global opportunities both on and off the field. MLS NEXT Pro enters its second season in 2023 with 27 teams, all affiliated with MLS clubs. Seven are new to MLS NEXT Pro in 2023: Atlanta United 2, Austin FC II, Crown Legacy FC (Charlotte FC), Huntsville City FC (Nashville SC), LA Galaxy II, Los Angeles Football Club 2 and New York Red Bulls II. Additional MLS-affiliated and independent clubs will join in the years ahead, including Carolina Core FC in 2024 and Cleveland in 2025. The majority of MLS NEXT Pro matches in 2023 will be available to watch live and on-demand on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app as part of the groundbreaking partnership between Apple and MLS. For more information about MLS NEXT Pro, visit mlsnextpro.com.