MLS NEXT accepts 24 new clubs for 2021-22 season
MLS NEXT announced the admission of 24 new clubs and the expansion of additional age groups for 16 existing clubs for the 2021-2022 season.
In addition to the eight clubs accepted in the Early Admission process, MLS NEXT will welcome 16 additional clubs ahead of the upcoming season. These new members combine traditionally strong clubs, ambitious new clubs and clubs with a focus on increasing access to historically underserved player populations.
“As the highest level of youth competition for aspiring collegiate, professional and international players in North America, we approached the expansion process with a focus on increasing access to the platform for a broader pool of players without sacrificing our high standards for membership,” said MLS NEXT Technical Director, Fred Lipka in a league release. “Through an extensive review process, we identified clubs who embody the values of our program, including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, reducing the financial burden for the highest potential players in our country, and providing access to historically underserved markets. MLS NEXT will continue to explore opportunities to expose more high potential players to the most rigorous developmental program and the fastest pathway to professional and international soccer in the U.S. and Canada.”
The 16 newly announced clubs are as follows:
- AFC Lightning
- Atlético Santa Rosa
- Bavarian United SC
- Beadling SC
- California Odyssey Soccer Club
- Diablo Valley Wolves
- IdeaSport Soccer Academy
- Intercontinental Football Academy of New England
- Kings Hammer Soccer Club
- KSA, Louisiana TDP Elite
- Queen City Mutiny
- SC Wave
- Strikers FC
- WSC Crush
Clubs were evaluated on several key ideals including: the implementation of a defined soccer philosophy, quality of coaching staff, record of top player production and professionalism of daily environment. Also of vital importance is the club’s ability to provide low or no-cost options for players to participate on MLS NEXT teams, creating opportunities for a more inclusive player pool and promoting and embodying the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion values of MLS NEXT.
MLS NEXT welcomes historic clubs including Bavarian United SC, Beadling SC and Strikers FC who have produced hundreds of collegiate and professional players and multiple senior National Team players. Strikers FC has been one of the nation’s leading player development engines for over 20 years, producing eight former USMNT players Steve Birnbaum, Jonathan Bornstein, Benny Feilhaber, Chad Marshall, Michael Orozco, Chris Pontius, Christian Ramirez and Bobby Wood and current USMNT hopeful Matthew Hoppe.
Beadling SC from Pittsburgh were founded in 1898 and is one of the oldest continually operating soccer clubs in the country with a rich history of player development, including over 50 alumni to play professionally. Bavarians SC from Milwaukee are “one of the top amateur clubs in the history of American Soccer” according to U.S. Soccer and served as the development ground for National Soccer Hall of Famer Bob Gansler.
These 16 clubs join an impressive roster of expansion clubs already announced through the Early Admissions process including: Hoover-Vestavia Soccer (HVS), Lou Fusz Athletic, Texas United, Tormenta FC Academy and Wake FC as well as St. Louis City Academy, Albion SC Las Vegas and Las Vegas Sports Academy, who were announced in August of 2020, but will also first take the pitch during the 2021-2022 season.