16 teams from each of the U15, U16, U17 and U19 age groups will qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs at MLS NEXT Flex this week

NEW YORK (Thursday, May 12, 2022) – Major League Soccer's stars of tomorrow continue their push for a position in the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, as clubs in the U15, U16, U17 and U19 age groups vie to earn the title of MLS NEXT Cup champions. The top 128 teams in the program – 32 from each age group – will participate in the tournament to determine the champions of the 2021-22 MLS NEXT season.

The MLS NEXT season culminates with the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, which will take place at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas from June 25 to July 3, 2022. A single-elimination competition, teams can qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs based on their play in the regular season or by winning their respective group at the inaugural MLS NEXT Flex.

The race to secure a spot in the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs continues this week with MLS NEXT Flex, a competition featuring 64 of the best MLS NEXT clubs from the U15, U16, U17 and U19 age groups. The event will take place at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD, from Friday, May 13 through Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and will provide the opportunity for 16 teams in each age division to secure a place in MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

“The assembled group of clubs at MLS NEXT Flex represent the best academies across the United States and Canada, all of which have demonstrated a strong history of player development and sought the highest levels of competition,” said MLS Vice President, Player and Youth Development Fred Lipka. “MLS NEXT Flex is an essential addition to the MLS NEXT season and developmental process and will be instrumental in further enhancing the competition in our league.”

Clubs in each of the four age groups qualified for MLS NEXT Flex on a points-per-game basis in each of MLS NEXT’s eight divisions. Qualifying clubs were assigned into sixteen groups of four via a draw in the month of April and the champions of each of these groups will automatically qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs. The 80-minute U15 matches and 90-minute U16, U17 and U19 matches that end regulation in a draw will move to penalty kicks. The winner of penalty kicks will earn two points, while the loser will take home one point.

MLS NEXT Flex will also provide an opportunity for North America’s top youth talent to be seen by college, youth national team and professional coaches, as well as scouts and evaluators, in a singular location. The MLS NEXT Match Evaluator program, which features former professional players who are trained on-site to identify top talent, will continue at both MLS NEXT Flex and in the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

View the MLS NEXT Flex schedule | Link

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Below are details on how to qualify for the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs in each age division.

Under-15 Division

32 total teams will qualify for the U15 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

Sixteen teams will qualify based on regular season performance, including the top eight MLS club academies and top eight MLS NEXT Elite academies on a points-per-game basis.

CLICK HERE for U15 MLS NEXT regular season standings and results

Sixteen additional teams will qualify through MLS NEXT Flex, the interleague competition featuring both MLS and Elite academies.

Under-16 Division

32 total teams will qualify for the U16 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

Sixteen teams, across MLS academy and MLS NEXT Elite academy teams, will qualify based on regular season performance based on points-per-game.

CLICK HERE for U16 MLS NEXT regular season standings and results

Sixteen additional teams will qualify through MLS NEXT Flex, the interleague competition featuring both MLS and Elite academies.

Under-17 Division

32 total teams will qualify for the U17 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

Sixteen teams will qualify based on regular season performance, including the top eight MLS academies and top eight MLS NEXT Elite academies based on points-per-game.

CLICK HERE for U17 MLS NEXT regular season standings and results

Sixteen additional teams will qualify through MLS NEXT Flex, the interleague competition featuring both MLS and Elite academies.

Under-19 Division

32 total teams will qualify for the U19 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

Sixteen teams, across MLS academy and MLS NEXT Elite academy teams, will qualify based on regular season performance based on points-per-game.

CLICK HERE for U19 MLS NEXT regular season standings and results

Sixteen additional teams will qualify through MLS NEXT Flex, the interleague competition featuring both MLS and Elite academies.

Champions of the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs from the 2020-21 season include U15 Real Salt Lake, U16 Weston FC, U17 Orlando City SC and U19 Chicago Fire. For a recap of each of the 2021 championship matches and a listing of the end-of-tournament award winners in each age division, click here.

Teams that don’t qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, including all clubs in the U13 and U14 age groups, can compete in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase, which provides an exposure platform for players to play in front of college, youth national team, and professional coaches and scouts. All clubs participating in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase will have three matches in four days. Clubs who are eliminated in the first two rounds of the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs are eligible to participate in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase.

The event will also have the MLS NEXT “Best Of” matches in which identified top players from MLS NEXT Showcase teams will compete. These players are selected based on regular season and 2021-22 MLS NEXT event performances, including MLS NEXT Fest and MLS NEXT Flex.

More information on the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, including a schedule of matches, will be shared at a later date. For more information on MLS NEXT, please visit https://www.mlssoccer.com/mlsnext/.

About MLS NEXT
MLS NEXT is a new paradigm for player development, launched in 2020 to transform youth soccer in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest level of competition, training and personal development opportunities that will prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life. Membership for the 2021-22 season includes 133 clubs, 598 teams and over 12,000 players across the U.S. and Canada. Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas and Carolina Online at the University of South Carolina. For more information about MLS NEXT, visit www.mlssoccer.com/mlsnext