NEW YORK – MLS NEXT Pro announced the 21 clubs that will compete in the new professional league’s inaugural 2022 season. Adidas will serve as MLS NEXT Pro’s first corporate sponsor.

Established in June by Major League Soccer, the new professional league will complete an integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams. The new league will offer young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop.

MLS NEXT Pro will debut in 2022.

The 21 clubs competing in MLS NEXT Pro’s inaugural season include 20 teams affiliated with MLS clubs and one independent club, Rochester NY FC.

Rochester NY FC will serve as MLS NEXT Pro’s inaugural independent club. Rochester NY FC, founded in 1996 as the Rochester Rhinos and rebranded this September, is owned by David and Wendy Dworkin, and co-owned by Premier League striker and former English international Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.

“We are thrilled that Rochester NY FC will be the first independent club to join MLS NEXT Pro,” David and Wendy Dworkin said in a statement. “Rochester established itself as a winning club with the Rhinos, and we are pleased to add a new chapter in the city’s rich soccer history as Rochester NY FC. We are excited to develop the future international stars of soccer, right here in our local community. By joining this league, Rochester is on the cusp of the future and the evolving global game of soccer.”

Added Vardy, “We look forward to showcasing Rochester as a premier professional club and are excited to kick off that process by helping to launch the inaugural season of MLS NEXT Pro in 2022. Joining this league, full of opportunity for communities, fans, players and staff – on the pitch and off – is a tremendous point of pride for our club.”

In addition to Rochester NY FC, the following MLS clubs will compete in MLS NEXT Pro’s 2022 season:

Chicago Colorado Columbus Cincinnati Dallas
Houston Kansas City Miami Minnesota New England
NYCFC Orlando Philadelphia Portland Salt Lake
San Jose Seattle St. Louis Toronto Vancouver

Eight additional MLS-affiliated teams will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2023, including: Atlanta United, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, D.C. United, LA Galaxy, LAFC, Nashville SC, and New York Red Bulls. In addition to Rochester NY FC, MLS NEXT Pro will introduce additional independent clubs to the league in 2023 and beyond.

MLS NEXT Pro will kick off its inaugural season in March, just one month after Major League Soccer action starts, and see its season culminate in postseason action in September.  The full 2022 match schedule and competition details will be announced at a later date.

The league has appointed executives for the league. Charles Altchek has been named president and Ali Curtis will be senior vice president of competition and operations of MLS NEXT Pro.