MLS NEXT Tuesday announced the class of eight newly admitted MLS NEXT clubs as part of the league’s strategic expansion ahead of the 2022-23 season. These new member clubs combine traditionally strong programs, expansion into underserved markets and an increased presence in talent hotbeds across the United States.
Two clubs – Sacramento United and FC Golden State Force, both in the talent-rich state of California – will provide a full player pathway for MLS NEXT prospects, competing in all levels of MLS NEXT competition ranging from Under-13 to U-19 play.
The full list of the eight newly added clubs include:
- ALBION SC Merced, Merced, CA (U13, U14)
- FA Euro New York, Brooklyn, NY (U13, U14)
- FC Golden State Force, Pomona, CA (Full pathway)
- RSL AZ Mesa, Mesa, AZ (U13, U14)
- Sacramento United, Sacramento, CA (Full pathway)
- San Francisco Seals, San Francisco, CA (U13, U14)
- SoCal Reds FC, Irvine, CA (U13, U14)
- Triangle United Soccer, Chapel Hill, NC (U13, U14, U16, U19)
“As MLS NEXT further cements its position as the premier youth development league in North America, we are continuously evaluating opportunities to add to our rich talent pool,” said MLS Vice President, Player and Youth Development Fred Lipka. “Through an extensive review process, we identified eight clubs who best embodied our goals at MLS NEXT, including providing access to historically underserved areas of the United States, expanding our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and reducing the financial burden for the highest potential players in our country. We are excited for these clubs to compete in MLS NEXT and to further enhance our elite player pathway throughout North America.”
Clubs were evaluated on several key factors including the implementation of a defined soccer philosophy, quality of coaching staff, a record of top player production and professionalism of daily environment. Also of vital importance 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 and promoting and embodying the diversity, equity, and inclusion values of MLS NEXT.
MLS NEXT welcomes a pair of historic clubs in San Francisco Seals and ALBION SC Merced. San Francisco Seals was founded in 1981 as a local, recreational team, but has since become one of the most storied youth programs in the country. Fifteen former Seals youth players have gone on to compete for the United States national teams across various age levels and 43 players have competed for professional teams around the world, including former MLS standouts C.J. Brown and Calen Carr. Located in the San Joaquin Valley between San Jose and Fresno, ALBION SC Merced has been serving its soccer community for more than 30 years and has developed both boys and girls from youth to professional.
Representing the New York City area, FA Euro NY will also be joining MLS NEXT for the 2022-23 season. FA Euro NY is the first MLS NEXT club located in Brooklyn, NY, and has consistently developed and nurtured elite young players since its inception in 2013, as alumni of this program are now competing in the top professional leagues around the world.
MLS NEXT has also selected clubs that are able to increase access for previously underserved player pools. RSL Arizona Mesa, located southeast of Phoenix, brings a strong presence to the Southwest region, and Irvine, CA based SoCal Reds FC has developed its presence in the talent hotbed that is Orange County in Southern California. Finally, Triangle United Soccer, residing in Chapel Hill, NC, continues MLS’ push into the Southeast, adding another MLS NEXT presence in the Research Triangle in four age divisions – U13, U14, U16 and U19.
The industry leading partnership between adidas and Major League Soccer continues to drive the evolution of player development. adidas will provide the official match ball for all MLS NEXT matches and partners with MLS in advancing the game in North America and creating an atmosphere that supports these young players on the professional pathway.