MLS youth league gets name, logo and partial schedule

The youth league run by Major Soccer League will be known as MLS NEXT and the inaugural season of the venture that was announced in mid-April will kick off with 115 games this weekend.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only 51 of the 113 clubs will be in action in Week 1 play. To adjust to changing health and safety recommendations, MLS Next will create and announce schedules in four-week phases.

The league's 113 clubs, 30 of which are MLS academies, will field 489 teams in six age groups (U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-19). The first weekend's action is limited to areas in which state and local governments have lifted COVID-prevention restrictions on youth sports and to clubs near enough to opponents not under restrictions.


"The 2020 competition structure for MLS NEXT prioritizes athlete, staff and community health and safety through regional play and minimized travel," read the MLS press release. "Competition will highlight local rivalries and eliminate air travel and overnight trips, with select matches to be played at neutral sites in geographically centered locations."

MLS stepped in to organize the league in the wake U.S. Soccer folding the Development Academy, the demise of which became official on April 15.

For a list of MLS NEXT clubs, go HERE.

MLS NEXT has clubs based in 30 U.S. states (including the District of Columbia) and three Canadian provinces.

Clubs from 17 states will be in action during the first weekend of play. California, with 24 clubs, is one of the states in which guidelines for youth sports to resume during the coronavirus  pandemic do not allow for youth soccer league games.

The three Canadian clubs -- Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC, Montreal Impact  -- are based farther from each other than U.S. opponents, and a ban on discretionary travel across the USA’s northern border because of the USA’s "unacceptably high" U.S. Covid numbers remains in effect. (The USA has had more 6.3 million cases vs. Canada’s 133,000 and the per-1,000 trend over the last 14 days has been 12 in the USA vs. 1.2 in Canada.)

MLS NEXT is working with clubs in areas with limited access to games because of the minimized travel during COVID-19 pandemic and plans additional local games for such clubs.

Tyler Adams, Jordan Morris, Chris Mueller, Jesus Ferreira, Luchi Gonzalez, U.S. men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter and MLS Commissioner Don Garber  took part in a MLS NEXT launch video.

5 comments about "MLS youth league gets name, logo and partial schedule".
  1. Wallace Wade, September 9, 2020 at 8:57 a.m.

    No changes in lack of Regional access. This is a closed league that leaves out huge portions of the Country. They could have improved the system during the re-launch and instead just went DA 2.0. Shame. Bad news for player development and youth soccer in the United States

  2. Tom Odorcic, September 9, 2020 at 2:05 p.m.

    I would disagree with you Wallace to a degree. It was an open application for any and all clubs to apply. It would be interesting to know if the areas that have no teams had any applicants whatsoever? As a matter of fact, some teams that weren't part of the DA are not part of the MLS Next League! I would challenge you to ask around the top clubs or any clubs in your area if they even looked into or had applied. 

  3. Skip Gilbert, September 9, 2020 at 2:37 p.m.

    This is where USYS fits in. MLS Next is one tier. Add in our ODP programming which assembles on average 660 teams and 13,200 players across all 50 states each year. Together, MLS and USYS ODP will canvass the entire country to find tomorrow’s best professional players today.

  4. humble 1 replied, September 9, 2020 at 6:39 p.m.

    Interesting.  I am familiar with how teams and players are selected abroad and they have open leagues and pyramids with pro/rel where-in the better players reveal themselves naturally.  Just go to the top of the pyramid.  Just look at a club that is moving up consistently.  By U15/U16 you have a very clear picture of the top players in birth year, however, the system leaves a path for late bloomers.  When you say 'select' this is where the U.S. diverges.  Becaues of all the closed leagues with no interplay, players cannot reveal themselves, rather, they are hidden.  Talking men/boys here now mind you, but you guys never ever count the latino leagues that don't register through any affiliate of USSF.  These kids go from club to high school and never get counted and looked at.  So what has MLS Next done to change things?  Do we have a more open pyramid.  Are we taking account of the boys playing in the latino leagues then HS?  Are we even offering the same number of free academy spots that DA did?  Not in Minnesota, but what about in all of MLS Next.  DA was always a shoe that didn't fit the USA - it was only in like 20 of 50 states and then only in a large metro areas.  Completely forgot about not just the latinos but also the rural players and small market players.  It was never the right model.  Bringing back ODP is great, but without open leagues and open play between leagues and an evolution of the pyramid, we just go back to where we were pre DA in 2007 and back - 'selecting' the top players.  Who in the USA has a track record of 'selecting' and developing world class players?  Our men who get the stuff kicked by Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinidad Tobago.  Who are the geniuses that 'selected' that group.  Not to mention the complete and utter failure to get one of two spots from CONCACAF for the last two Olympic cycles.  So going back to the 'selection' system - please.  We need open interleageu play at the state and metro levels so that in each region we know the best teams and there - we go and see the best players.   You see a team from El Paso crushing teams from Dallas and you go watch and you'll find a future start.  But of course you have to take on all the rotten opaque so call Not-for-profit clubs and leagues that have are like annuities for their owners.   The live off calling themselves 'elite' and 'select'.  They hide from the latino leagues and their parent coached teams that would bust their 'elite' 'select' chops.  Someone in the Chicago House needs to step up and make some waves.  Don't wait for MLS and their Franchisees - you'll be sold down the river.  There's no consensus in MLS to develop players - the need to fill seats and capture eyeballs.  

  5. R2 Dad, September 10, 2020 at 11:34 a.m.

    humble, it doesn't sound like much has changed between DA and MLS Next. Jeff Carlisle over at ESPN has concluded: "For now, the implementation of RSTP in the U.S. continues to benefit MLS and, with few exceptions, nobody else. It will be up to the USSF and MLS to change that, and that is unlikely to happen anytime soon."

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