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MLS NEXT Apr 27, 2023

MLS NEXT expands Texas footprint with two more clubs for 2023-24 season

NEW YORK – MLS NEXT announced an expanded footprint in Texas, adding two clubs with a full player pathway for the 2023-24 season. The renowned Dallas Hornets Soccer Club, led by Executive Director Brent Erwin, and newly-founded Houston Rangers SC, led by MLS great Josh Gardner, will participate in the U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, and U19 divisions during their first season within MLS NEXT.

The two clubs will provide more options for players in the talent-rich state of Texas, bringing the total number of clubs in the Lone Star State to 10. Overall, 11 new clubs will begin play across MLS NEXT in the fall of 2023.

With a significant amount of talent in the Dallas and Houston areas, both clubs will foster an environment focused on individual player growth and improvement with the goal of developing players to reach their highest potential level. To do so, coaches and staff members from both clubs will have rich experiences in playing and coaching professional soccer across North America.

The Dallas Hornets Soccer Club has an opportunity to be one of the leaders in youth soccer development in the country while setting an elite standard within North Texas by working to develop talent on the field and compassionate and educated individuals in the community through an environment that puts service ahead of oneself. With the leadership of Erwin, academy director Cody Worden (previously with Real Salt Lake), and former MLS coaches, the club will aim to provide high-level experience and coaching to players.

“Growing up and playing in Dallas is the most meaningful part of my soccer career,” said Erwin. “Now, to be a part of the best youth program in the country, within one of the most talented soccer markets, is something that can’t be equaled, and we are incredibly excited for this opportunity. We look forward to working to develop top-level players and impacting our community in a positive way.”

Houston Rangers SC was founded in 2022 with the help of Gardner, who will serve as the club’s academy director. A Houston native, Gardner will help foster the growth of talented youth players throughout Katy and West Houston, where he starred on the field for Mayde Creek High School early in his career. Gardner and the Rangers SC coaching staff will create individualized player development plans and instill a mentorship program between U-18 players and younger age groups. Additionally, Rangers SC supplies financial support to families in need of assistance, ensuring that youth players will not be denied an opportunity to compete at the highest level.

“As a native of Katy, I have seen a tremendous amount of talented youth players that will now have the chance to compete against the best teams in North America through MLS NEXT,” said Gardner. “I am looking forward to leading this club and developing some of the best young athletes in the Houston area.’

All MLS NEXT expansion clubs were evaluated on several key factors – leadership and management, player development, and creating an inclusive club environment. A club’s leadership was evaluated based on the implementation of a defined soccer philosophy, quality of coaching staff, and continual coaching support and education.

Clubs who demonstrated MLS NEXT’s standards of commitment to holistic player development and support emphasized the creation of individual performance pathways and a professionalism of the daily environment. Finally, the clubs were also assessed on their ability to offer low or no-cost options for players to participate on MLS NEXT teams, creating opportunities for a more comprehensive player pool, and promoting and embodying the diversity, equity, and inclusion values of MLS NEXT.