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MLS NEXT Communications
MLS NEXT Announces Strategic Expansion for the 2022-23 Season
Eight New Clubs Display a Combination of Historic Achievement, Increased Access and Ambitious Growth Potential
NEW YORK (Tuesday, May 3, 2022) – MLS NEXT today 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 U13 to U19 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 nine 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.
Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas, Allstate, DoorDash, and University of South Carolina.
For more information on MLS NEXT and its member clubs, please visit MLSsoccer.com/MLSNEXT.
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What They Are Saying – Expansion Clubs
Eduardo Lopez, ALBION SC Merced
“We are extremely excited to be part of MLS NEXT. This is the highest platform in youth soccer in our country and we cannot wait to get started. The talent in Merced and its surrounding areas is extremely high, and for our community to be able to represent itself to the country makes us very excited to join this stage."
Marco Balsamo, Executive Director, FA Euro New York
"FA Euro New York is excited to join MLS NEXT and to take part in the premier player development platform in North America. We are proud to offer this special opportunity to players and families in Brooklyn and are confident that our staff and coaches are prepared to continue to support our players in their development as we take this important step forward. By joining MLS NEXT, we are committing to shaping the next generation of elite North American soccer players. For that opportunity, we would like to thank Fred Lipka, Amy Woff, and the entire MLS NEXT, Youth, and Player Development teams. We are eager to showcase Brooklyn’s incredible talent and diversity and to work with MLS NEXT and our partner clubs to expand access to elite player development experiences."
Jesse Ochoa, Director of Coaching, FC Golden State Force
“We are incredibly excited to join MLS NEXT, which brings together the best MLS academies and elite youth clubs throughout the nation. MLS NEXT aligns with our philosophy at FC Golden State FORCE that is player focused, coach driven, and club led. We are grateful for this opportunity as we strive to continue to offer a program based on high standards in which we focus on supporting our student-athletes in their pursuit of their soccer, academic and personal goals.”
Juan Fresquez, MLS NEXT Director of Coaching, RSL Arizona Mesa
“We are honored and feel a great responsibility for this new opportunity. We will continue to work hard to meet and exceed the expectations. Player development is our number one priority at RSL AZ. Thank you for entrusting us with this MLS NEXT expansion”
Gavin Glinton, Technical Director, Sacramento United Soccer Club
"Sacramento United is beyond excited and proud to be accepted into MLS NEXT. Being a part of the best player development experience and pathway in the country will be an immense benefit to our players and community. We are humbled that our history and our continued commitment to holistic player development has been acknowledged and recognized to be in line with the goals and vision of Major League Soccer’s professional development platform. Sac United can’t wait to offer our boys teams access to the top competitions, coaching, and development environment in the nation. This will allow more of the Central Valley’s most talented, motivated, and disciplined players to showcase their abilities and have legitimate access to professional opportunities."
Shani Simpson, Founder and Director, San Francisco Seals
“I have been coaching youth soccer in the United States for over 30 years and developed players who moved on to represent U.S. Youth National Teams, Division-1 college teams and MLS clubs. MLS NEXT is the gold standard for development of the highest level of players. The players who will win the United States our first World Cup will have been developed and come through the MLS NEXT program"
Paul Holohan, Technical Director, SoCal Reds FC
“I’m delighted that SoCal Reds FC has earned this national distinction as an organization. Continuing in a winning tradition with a history of developing quality players and now as a member of the MLS NEXT youth development platform, we will continue to maintain our high standards on and off the field. We are all very excited here at SoCal Reds FC to help develop and promote the best youth players in the United States and help them to continue along their player pathway to college, professional and national teams. Working with the MLS NEXT, SoCal Reds FC Academy will focus on maximizing each player’s potential with high-level, year-round competition.”
John Cirillo, Director of Soccer, Triangle United
“Triangle United is extremely excited about joining MLS NEXT, the top platform for boys’ youth soccer in the United States. This opportunity allows for our players to play in meaningful games week in and week out now that we have the very best playing platform available. MLS NEXT will enhance our developmental path for our players, pushing them to be the best they can be. We are looking forward to being a part of this program for many years to come.”
About MLS NEXT
MLS NEXT is a new paradigm for player development, launched in 2020 to transform youth soccer in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest level of competition, training and personal development opportunities that will prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life. Membership for the 2021-22 season includes 133 clubs, 598 teams and over 12,000 players across the U.S. and Canada. Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas and Carolina Online at the University of South Carolina. For more information about MLS NEXT, visit www.mlssoccer.com/mlsnext