MLS NEXT has opened its application process for the 2021-22 season, allowing youth clubs to potentially join the top elite boys’ soccer platform in the United States and Canada. Admissions announcements will begin in March as MLS NEXT prepares for its second year of competition.
There are currently 113 clubs across North America in MLS NEXT, including all 30 MLS academy clubs, and a vast majority of players in the US and Canadian youth national team pools.
Interested clubs will be evaluated based on the implementation of a defined soccer philosophy, quality of coaching staff, record of elite player production and professionalism of daily environment. Another key factor is the club’s ability to provide low or no-cost options for players to participate on MLS NEXT teams, creating opportunities for a more inclusive player pool.
“We have been impressed by the efforts of our current MLS NEXT clubs to tackle the challenges faced during this first year, and we are confident they will build on the momentum of the current generation of youth players forging their path to the next level, whether it be college, MLS, or National Teams,” said Fred Lipka, Technical Director of MLS NEXT. “We are also open to work with additional elite youth clubs who share our goal of creating the best player development platform in North America.”
Applications will be reviewed by MLS NEXT staff. Admissions will be announced in three phases, starting with Early Admissions in March, Regular Admissions in May and Waitlist Admissions in July. The admissions process will be very selective.
Inaugural season underway
The inaugural MLS NEXT season is currently underway, having already completed over 1,000 games during the fall at the U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-19 age groups. MLS NEXT is following a schedule that's consistent with Return to Play protocols, as well as local, state and federal health guidelines in an attempt to eliminate flights and minimize travel and hotel stays. To supplement their competition schedule, MLS NEXT has provided virtual education opportunities for players, coaches and parents.