MLS NEXT announced on Thursday the addition of two Texas-based clubs for its full-player pathway ahead of the 2023-24 season.
The renowned Dallas Hornets Soccer Club and newly-founded Houston Rangers SC will participate in the U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, and U19 divisions during their first season within MLS NEXT.
Both clubs will offer even more options for young player development in talent-rich Texas, bringing the total number of NEXT clubs in the Lone Star State to 10. Overall, 11 new clubs will begin play across MLS NEXT in the fall of 2023.
“Growing up and playing in Dallas is the most meaningful part of my soccer career,” Brent Erwin, executive director of Dallas Hornets Soccer Club, said in an official release.
“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 under the leadership of former MLS player Josh Gardner, who will serve as the club’s academy director.
“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.’
MLS NEXT accepted expansion clubs based on the following criteria: leadership and management, player development, and creating an inclusive club environment.
Current membership in MLS NEXT includes 133 clubs, 590 teams and 11,000+ players across the US and Canada, accounting for over 90% of the current youth national team player pools.