The inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season will kick off March 25, the new third-division league announced Thursday.

Highlighted by regional rivalries and marquee matchups, all games in the 2022 schedule – from the 21 clubs – will be streamed live on mlsnextpro.com.

Opening weekend

The first match will be played when St. Louis CITY2 host the league's first independent club, RNYFC, at Saint Louis University’s Hermann Stadium (8 pm ET | mlsnextpro.com).

The game signifies an important step before St. Louis CITY SC enter MLS as an expansion team in 2023. For Rochester, it represents a return to professional action for the former U.S. Open Cup championship club.

The kickoff weekend will also feature the following games across the league (all times Eastern):

  • March 26 – Orlando City B vs. Chicago Fire FC II (3 pm)
  • March 26 – Inter Miami II vs. Crew 2 (6 pm)
  • March 26 – North Texas SC vs. MNUFC2 (9 pm)
  • March 26 – Houston Dynamo 2 vs. Whitecaps FC 2 (9 pm)
  • March 27 – Philadelphia Union II vs. FC Cincinnati 2 (2 pm)
  • March 27 – Tacoma Defiance vs. Real Monarchs (3 pm)
  • March 27 – NYCFC II vs. New England Revolution II (5 pm)
  • March 27 – Colorado Rapids 2 vs. Sporting KC II (6 pm)

Schedule structure

Each MLS NEXT Pro team will compete in 24 regular-season games, 12 home and 12 away, across 26 weeks, culminating on Sept. 18 with MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day. 

Prioritizing regional play, teams have been divided into Eastern and Western Conferences, comprised of two divisions in each.  

Each team will play divisional opponents two to three times, as well as the other teams in their conference at least twice. A total of four non-conference matchups will take place during the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season.

A total of eight teams, four from each conference, will qualify for the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. This includes the top team from each division and the two teams with the next most points in each conference. 

More information about the playoff format and schedule will be announced at a later date.

“We are excited to announce the 2022 inaugural MLS NEXT Pro regular-season schedule,” MLS NEXT Pro Senior Vice President, Competition and Operations Ali Curtis said in a release. “This season will deliver dynamic professional soccer featuring the stars of today and tomorrow. As we move closer to the start date, we are looking forward to releasing additional elements of the competition.”

Rivalry Week

MLS NEXT Pro will host Rivalry Week on July 10-16, coinciding with the MLS Heineken Rivalry Week. These matchups include established first-team rivalries such as the following (all times Eastern):

  • July 10 – Timbers2 vs. Tacoma Defiance (10 pm)
  • July 10 – Orlando City B vs. Inter Miami II (7 pm)
  • July 15 – North Texas SC vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (9 pm)
  • July 16 – Crew 2 vs. FC Cincinnati 2 (7 pm)
  • July 16 – Timbers2 vs. Whitecaps FC 2 (10 pm)

In addition, Rivalry Week will feature a new rivalry between the New York clubs:

  • July 16 – NYCFC II vs. RNYFC (7 pm)

Streaming information and Games of the Week

Fans can watch every game of the MLS NEXT Pro inaugural season via live stream on mlsnextpro.com.

In addition, more than 30 games will be billed as “Games of the Week," featuring enhanced productions. Each MLS NEXT Pro club will have at least one home game featured, and all playoff games will be enhanced productions.

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Conference and divisional alignment 

For 2022, the league will be separated into two conferences – Western and Eastern – with each conference comprised of two divisions.

Below is the divisional breakout of the MLS NEXT Pro teams:

Western Conference
Frontier Division
Pacific Division
Colorado Rapids 2
Real Monarchs
North Texas SC
Earthquakes II
Houston Dynamo 2
Tacoma Defiance
Sporting KC II
Timbers2
MNUFC2
Whitecaps FC 2
St. Louis CITY2
Eastern Conference
Northeast Division
Central Division
New England Revolution II
Chicago Fire FC II
NYCFC II
FC Cincinnati 2
Philadelphia Union II
Crew 2
RNYFC
Inter Miami II
TFC II
Orlando City B

adidas the official match ball provider for MLS NEXT Pro

adidas, a founding partner of MLS NEXT Pro, will provide the official match ball for all MLS NEXT Pro games. The league will utilize the same match ball that will be used in MLS.

As a founding partner of MLS NEXT Pro, adidas will continue to expand upon its deep relationship with MLS and MLS NEXT. The partnership affirms adidas’ commitment to the growth and advancement of the sport of soccer in local communities throughout the United States, Canada and globally.