MLS Next: Creating the New “Homegrown” Professional Soccer Players

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The MLS NEXT academy leagues began 2 weeks ago The newly formed academy program is inevitably focused on the future given that some of its participants will be as young as 10 years old. Homegrown soccer players and it’s happening right now, before our eyes. Many quality soccer players are being given opportunity to enter and play in this program, and many parents are seizing it with both hands.

 MLS NEXT will encompass close to 500 teams across 100+ clubs and six age groups, together charting the course for a new future for the sport. The Academy league includes teams from all 26 current MLS franchises, another 7 USL teams and nearly 80 non-professional youth soccer clubs. There are more than 7,000 players throughout the United States and Canada that will have a chance to play and grow in the MLS NEXT program.

The most important thing at this time is to build, in the continuity of what MLS has done at a first-team level, now to try to organize what is below MLS and create a very robust and aspirational pathway for each player in the country that is a part of the program.

We are not the big 5 “Germany, Italy, Spain, England or France” However MLS NEXT leaves huge hopes… Will this totally change the system? It’s too early to figure that one out, but maybe it can adjust forever the broken system. Because, Europe is not the US, the systems are not based on the same culture, same values and most of all the same assets … So in the US it will come differently. The MLS has already confirmed that is will help with partners, sponsors for the clubs involved in the program and it will try to design the new model, which can also not completely change, but rectify the flow of soccer development at a high level.

The newly formed competition will highlight local rivalries and eliminate some air travel and overnight stays, some of the select matches will be played at neutral sites in geographically centered locations. Clubs in areas with limited access to matches due to the minimized travel resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will play additional local matches. 

 MLS NEXT from its second season will also feature national competitions that engage the worldwide soccer community to accelerate the growth of each individual MLS NEXT player.

Adidas will partner with MLS NEXT to create an atmosphere that supports these elite young players on to their professional pathway.

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