Major League Soccer recently launched one of the biggest elements of its long-term growth plan: MLS NEXT Pro.
the 21 team league serves as an MLS-affiliated league, training ground, business and gameplay laboratory, and a means to bring football to many other communities across the country.
“The reason MLS NEXT Pro exists, first and foremost, is to complete the pro player journeyleague chairman Charles Altchek told Front Office Sports. “Our academies are running at full capacity and producing so many more high-quality young players that there is no longer enough time and space on the pitch with our first teams.”
- The league plans to add about eight teams next year, including those affiliated with MLS clubs in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York.
- The Rochester club is a independent team not affiliated with an MLS team. Altchek plans more in the future.
- “We’re going to have independent teams across the country, competing with our MLS-owned teams,” he said.
Today the USA, tomorrow the world
The league brings professional football to many more communities as MLS expands to the The United States hosts the World Cup in 2026.
“The 2026 World Cup will be the greatest sporting event of all time,” Altchek said.
“MLS NEXT Pro is an opportunity for us to prepare for this moment to be able to capture that energy and excitement around the sport. And what better way to do that than to introduce professional football to new cities and markets across the country.