For the first time in club history, Earthquakes II have qualified for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. After finishing just out of playoff range last year in the league’s inaugural season, Quakes II ended this season at spot number six in the Western Conference standings. They now look to take on fifth-seed St. Louis CITY2 after the round one matchup selections which took place on Monday.
Quakes II are motivated and ready to make their mark. Forward Roberto Hategan noted that a large goal was making the playoffs, but that the main goal now is to keep pushing. “Getting into [the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs] was a great feat,” said Hategan, “but we came here for more.”
This may be their first taste of the playoffs, but it is not the first time that Quakes II have faced St. Louis this year. On July 23rd Quakes II defeated St. Louis in penalty kicks, but a month later they would fall to the Missouri side 3-1. Earthquakes II, who have 10 goals in their last four matches, were able to strike first in each of the St. Louis CITY2 matchups. Their ability to start strong is something that they will look to continue this weekend.
This first round playoff game is set to take place at CITYPARK in St. Louis, Missouri. Although it is further from home, Quakes II feel strong. With an away record of 8-4-2, the third best in the league and second best in the Western Conference, defender Alejandro Cano expressed that the challenge of a playoff game on the road has been gladly accepted. “We’re always confident on the road. We’ve gotten a couple good wins against good opponents. There’s nothing different going into this time.”
The energy continues to strengthen for Quakes II as they also prepare to face a crowd with a potential for breaking attendance records. CITY2 set the current MLS NEXT Pro attendance record earlier this season when they played the Real Monarchs in front of 9,489 fans. Now that the playoffs are beginning, players and staff anticipate a similar or even larger crowd. “We know what we can do, and it would be great to show it to that crowd,” explained goalkeeper Emi Ochoa.
Earthquakes II will face St. Louis CITY2 in the Western Conference Quarterfinal on Sunday, Oct. 1. Kickoff from CITYPARK in St. Louis, MO, is slated for 3 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app.