Major League Soccer's future stars will be on display as the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will take place from June 25-July 3 in the Dallas Metroplex to crown MLS NEXT Cup champions in four age groups (U15, U16, U17, U19). The top 128 teams in the country will participate in the championship tournament to conclude the first-ever 10-month season.
The MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will be a single-elimination competition with 32 teams in each age group. Teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs on a points-per-game basis from their performance in the MLS NEXT regular season.
“The MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will provide more opportunity for clubs to play important matches and our players to further showcase their abilities in front of scouts and coaches," MLS NEXT technical director Fred Lipka said in a statement. "This will be the culmination of an exciting season and serve as a celebration of everything our players, coaches, referees and staff achieved over the last year.”
“We are very excited to host the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup at our facilities,” FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “As a club, developing homegrown talent is something we have been focused on for many years and is evident in the talented players emerging from our club. MLS NEXT is an extremely valuable component as we continue to enhance the professional player pathway and we look forward to welcoming the best players in our country to Dallas in June.”
A significant focus will be placed on talent identification and technical analysis with MLS NEXT Match Evaluators, U.S. Soccer’s Director of Talent Identification, Tony Lepore, youth national team coaches and a vast assortment of college coaches in attendance. MLS NEXT Match Evaluators are former professional players and coaches, evaluating MLS NEXT matches to assess the quality of play and identify top talents. The MLS NEXT Match Evaluator Program will debut at the event this summer and continue into the 2021-22 MLS NEXT regular season and beyond. In addition, each match will be filmed and then analyzed so each team is able to review their match in a similar way to what current MLS teams are doing. MLS NEXT will also produce a post-event technical report and analysis.
Before arriving in Frisco, the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase will include a week of virtual education programming for all players, coaches and referees designed to prepare the clubs for their participation and provide valuable insight into what it takes to improve as players, coaches and referees to reach each individual’s maximum potential.
Teams that didn’t qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs 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. In the evenings, players will be selected to participate in the MLS NEXT Showcase Best Of matches.