New youth development platform, MLS NEXT, set to kickoff this weekend
NEW YORK – This weekend, thousands of youth soccer players will kick off 2020 competition as part of MLS NEXT, the new elite youth development platform created by Major League Soccer in collaboration with the top youth academies around the country.
The MLS NEXT brand was unveiled yesterday exclusively to the elite youth player group, as well as young players aspiring to achieve a spot on one of the platform’s 489 teams across 113 clubs.
- CLICK HERE for a full list of platform teams, listed by club.
MLS NEXT clubs will kick off the inaugural season this weekend, Sept. 11-12, while adhering to detailed health and safety protocols. MLS NEXT competition was developed under guidance from federal, state and local government officials, and in keeping with U.S. Soccer’s PLAY ON guidelines. The 2020 competition structure for MLS NEXT prioritizes athlete, staff and community health and safety through regional play and minimized travel.
Featuring six age groups (U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-19), competition will highlight local rivalries and eliminate air travel and overnight trips, with select matches to be played at neutral sites in geographically centered locations. The MLS NEXT fall 2020 competition schedule will be created and announced in four-week phases in order to adjust to evolving health and safety recommendations. The first week of matches were today released, and future matches will be posted in the coming days and continue to be posted throughout the fall competition.
MLS NEXT is working with clubs in areas with limited access to matches due to the minimized travel resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Those clubs impacted will play additional local matches. As the schedule is being released in four-week phases, future adjustments to the fall competition calendar may be made as conditions permit.
“MLS NEXT advances player development in North America, furthering Major League Soccer’s commitment to developing world-class players through an elite competitive pathway,” said Fred Lipka, Vice President and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “Major League Soccer is excited to begin MLS NEXT competition which will place player development at the forefront while giving players a safe and healthy environment to advance from academies to MLS first teams.”
In addition to competition on the field, MLS NEXT will focus on coaching education, personal development, player identification and community service. MLS NEXT seasons beyond the fall of 2020 will also feature regional and national competitions that engage the global soccer community to accelerate the growth of each MLS NEXT player.