MLS NEXT Pro Unveils 21 Clubs For Inaugural Season Starting March 2022
December 8, 2021
MLS NEXT Pro announced on Monday the 21 clubs that will compete in the new professional league’s inaugural 2022 season.
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 and showcase their talents while competing for an MLS NEXT Pro championship.
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** Independent pro club
Joining in 2023:
Eight additional MLS-affiliated teams will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2023, including: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, D.C., LA, LAFC, Nashville and NY Red Bulls. In addition to Rochester NY FC, MLS NEXT Pro will introduce additional independent clubs to the league in 2023 and beyond.
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 England National Team star, Jamie Vardy of Leicester City F.C.
“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,” said Vardy. “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.”
“We are thrilled that Rochester NY FC will be the first independent club to join MLS Next Pro”, said David and Wendy Dworkin. “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.”
MLS NEXT Pro will bring professional soccer closer to fans and supporters, while providing more opportunities for players, coaches, referees and sports business professionals throughout North America.
- 24 league games per club
- 8 teams will make the playoffs culminating in a cup final
- Adidas will serve as MLS NEXT Pro’s first corporate sponsor
- Charles Altchek will serve as President of the league
- Ali Curtis will serve as Senior Vice President of Competition and Operations of MLS NEXT Pro
“Charles and Ali have the experience, enthusiasm and values to lead the growth and development of MLS NEXT Pro,” said MLS Commissioner, Don Garber. “They will partner with MLS-affiliated and independent teams to bring professional soccer to more communities throughout North America.”
Adidas: 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.;Pro Player PathwayThe stars of tomorrow play in MLS NEXT Pro today
“MLS NEXT Pro completes Major League Soccer’s pro player pathway, connecting our youth academies through to our first teams,” said Altchek. “As we continue to push the future of soccer forward in the United States and Canada, player development, community, innovation and diversity form the pillars of MLS NEXT Pro. The inaugural season in 2022 will be another historic moment for the sport.”
“MLS NEXT Pro will enhance the quality of all players, coaches, referees, and executives along the development pathway and it is an important step to the growth of the sport in North America leading up to the World Cup in 2026,” said Senior Vice President of Competition and Operations of MLS NEXT Pro Ali Curtis.