The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro schedule was released this afternoon for Orlando City B and the other 26 teams taking part this year. The Young Lions will play 28 regular-season games, a four-game increase from the league’s inaugural season in 2022. They’ll play 14 games at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee and 14 games away from home. OCB’s second season in the league starts on Sunday, March 26 against Philadelphia Union II at Subaru Park and ends on Sunday, Sept. 24 against FC Cincinnati 2 in Kissimmee.
The delay in the schedule release was due to the league waiting to see what would happen with Rochester New York FC, the league’s lone independent club. However, that club announced on March 10 that it was ceasing operations. As a result, the Young Lions will only face other MLS reserve sides during the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.
This year sees several new MLS-affiliated teams join the league from the USL Championship or by creating new teams. Atlanta United 2, LA Galaxy II, and New York Red Bulls II join from the USL, while Austin FC II, Crown Legacy (Charlotte FC), Huntsville City FC (Nashville SC), and Los Angeles Football Club 2 are new teams. Now, 27 of the 29 MLS teams have second teams in MLS NEXT Pro. The only teams missing are D.C. United, which sold its controlling interest in the USL Championship’s Loudoun United, and CF Montreal’s second team, which plays in its local Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Québec.
The Young Lions remain in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division alongside Chicago Fire FC II, Columbus Crew 2, FC Cincinnati 2, and Inter Miami II. This season, they’re joined by two new arrivals in Atlanta United 2 and Huntsville City FC, increasing the division size from five to seven teams.
For the second consecutive season, OCB will only play Eastern Conference teams. It faces division opponents Atlanta United II, Chicago Fire FC II, FC Cincinnati 2, and Inter Miami II three times and every other Eastern Conference foe twice. They play Atlanta and Cincinnati twice at home and Chicago and Miami twice away. They’ll face each of the other teams once at home and once away.
The busiest months for the team will be May and July, when OCB will play five games in each month. The Young Lions play four games in April, June, August, and September, while only playing twice in March. Most of their games will take place on Sundays (17 games), which was expected since most MLS games are on Saturday. Additionally, they’ll play twice on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, four times on Friday, and once on Saturday.
The increase in teams is accompanied by an expansion of the playoffs, moving from eight to 14 teams. The two division champions in each conference will be joined by the next five clubs with the most points, resulting in seven clubs per conference making the postseason. The top seeds will earn a first-round bye and the playoffs will be three rounds, ending in the MLS NEXT Pro Cup.
An odd twist to the playoffs this year is that the top two seeds in the conference quarterfinals (second and third seeds) will choose their opponents to host. The remaining teams in each conference will be matched based on their position in the standings. In the conference semifinals, the number one seed will choose which team it wants to host of the two lowest seeds remaining.
The new rules introduced last season will return in 2023. This includes penalty kicks following a draw to determine who gets an extra point, players coming off for three minutes after receiving treatment for at least 15 seconds, and red card suspensions being served against the same team. Additionally, the league is looking to prevent delays in the game by giving players just 10 seconds to leave the field during a substitution. If the substituted player takes more than 10 seconds to leave the field, the substitute will be held for 60 seconds before they can enter.
The majority of regular season games in MLS NEXT Pro this season, including all Decision Day games, will be aired on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass. The remaining games will continue to stream on mlsnextpro.com.
Orlando City B’s 2023 Schedule
- Sunday, March 26 at Philadelphia Union II, 3 p.m.
- Friday, March 31 vs. Huntsville City FC, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, April 9 vs. Inter Miami FC, 6 p.m.
- Sunday, April 16 at Atlanta United 2, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, April 23 vs. NYCFC II, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, April 30 vs. Toronto FC II, 6 p.m.
- Friday, May 5 at Crown Legacy FC, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, May 14 at Columbus Crew 2, 2 p.m.
- Friday, May 19, vs. Atlanta United 2, 7 p.m.
- Thursday, May 25 at Inter Miami II, 7 p.m.
- Monday, May 29 vs. New York Red Bulls II, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, June 4 at Toronto FC II, 8 p.m.
- Sunday, June 11 vs. FC Cincinnati 2, 6 p.m.
- Thursday, June 15 at Chicago Fire FC II, 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 28 vs. Philadelphia Union II, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, July 2 at FC Cincinnati 2, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, July 9 at Huntsville City FC, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, July 16 vs. Atlanta United 2, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, July 23 vs. Chicago Fire FC II, 7 p.m.
- Monday, July 31 at New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 5 at Inter Miami II, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 9 vs. New England Revolution II, 6 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 13 at NYCFC II, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 27 vs. Columbus Crew 2, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 3 vs. Crown Legacy FC, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 10 at New England Revolution II, 7 p.m.
- Friday, Sept. 15 at Chicago Fire FC II, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 24 vs. FC Cincinnati 2, 2 p.m.