Inaugural MLS NEXT Fest to feature 300 top youth teams in Southern California
MLS NEXT announced details for the inaugural MLS NEXT Fest, which will feature over 300 of the top youth teams from across the United States and Canada competing in the MLS NEXT Fest Showcase and Generation adidas Cup Qualifiers. The five-day event will be held at Silver Lakes Sports Complex in Norco, Calif., Friday, Dec. 3 through Tuesday, Dec. 7.
The MLS NEXT Fest Showcase will be composed of over 260 MLS NEXT teams in four age groups (U15, U16, U17 and U19). All teams will play three games in four days and are seeded in groups based on their performance in the fall portion of the 2021-22 MLS NEXT regular season.
Generation adidas Cup Qualifiers will feature 45 MLS Academies across the U15 and U17 age divisions competing for seeding in next year’s Generation adidas Cup.
MLS NEXT Fest provides an opportunity for North America’s top youth talent to be seen by college, national team and professional coaches, as well as scouts and evaluators, in a singular location.
Notable attendees include U.S. Soccer’s Director of Talent Identification, Tony Lepore, and his staff, youth national team coaches, as well as an assortment of college coaches. Additionally, 14 MLS NEXT Match Evaluators – an assembled group of MLS greats, as well as current and former players who evaluate MLS NEXT matches to assess the quality of play and identify top talents – will be on-site in Norco. Included among this group are MLS greats Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy, D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Raymon Gaddis (Philadelphia Union) and Dasan Robinson (Chicago Fire FC, LA Galaxy). The MLS NEXT Match Evaluator Program debuted at last summer’s MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase.
In preparation for the event, MLS NEXT will also feature a week of virtual programming for all players, parents, coaches and referees, including a kickoff webinar at 8 pm ET on Nov. 29. The webinar is designed to provide all parents and players in MLS NEXT perspectives on the state of soccer in North America from leading figures, including current MLS head coaches, general managers and players.
Additional programming during the virtual week will include two coaching education seminars, specifically designed for MLS NEXT coaches, featuring U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter and Canadian men’s national team head coach John Herdman. Dr. Sonja Robinson of Thrive Mind Solutions will lead three discussions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for players, parents, and coaches, and Alan Black, PRO Head of Coaching, Education and Evaluation, will conduct a one-hour virtual educational session for referees working the event.
Players participating in the MLS NEXT Fest Showcase are also eligible for selection to the MLS NEXT Fest Best Of matches, which will feature two matches of select players from across MLS NEXT played on Saturday and Sunday nights. The Best Of matches will provide players with additional exposure to the many college, youth national team and professional coaches and scouts in attendance.