MLS NEXT have announced nine new MLS NEXT clubs as part of the program’s expansion prior to the 2023-24 season. These new members showcase a commitment to elite individual player development in addition to fostering a positive environment within their local soccer communities. All nine clubs will begin play in the fall of 2023.
Three clubs – Athletum FC, Capital City SC, and Sporting Athletic Club – will provide a full player pathway for MLS NEXT prospects, competing in all age groups of MLS NEXT competition ranging from U13 to U19. MLS NEXT will also now have teams from two new states – Delaware and West Virginia – bringing the program’s total representation to 33 different states, three Canadian provinces, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, the newest independent MLS NEXT Pro club, Carolina Core FC, will have their U13 and U14 teams join MLS NEXT in 2024-25.
The nine newly-added clubs who will participate in 2023-24 include:
- Athletum FC (Hialeah, Fla.) – U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, U19
- Capital City SC (Austin, Texas) – U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, U19
- Ironbound Soccer Club (Newark, N.J.) – U13, U14
- Los Angeles Bulls SC (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) – U13, U14
- Los Angeles Soccer Club (West Covina, Calif.) – U13, U14
- Modesto Ajax United (Modesto, Calif.) – U13, U14
- Nashville United Soccer Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.) – U13, U14
- Sporting Athletic Club (Wilmington, Del.) – U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, U19
- West Virginia Soccer (Shepherdstown, WV) – U13, U14
“We are excited to welcome these nine clubs to MLS NEXT as they will strengthen the top youth soccer program in North America,” said MLS NEXT General Manager Justin Bokmeyer. “Each club exhibits a unique commitment to the highest quality of player development, both on and off the field, which is consistent with our goal of providing the best and most well-rounded educational environments for our young athletes.”
Clubs were evaluated on several key factors – leadership and management, player development, and creating an inclusive club environment. A club’s leadership was evaluated based on the implementation of a defined soccer philosophy, quality of coaching staff, and constant coaching support and education. Clubs who demonstrated a commitment to holistic player development and support emphasized the creation of performance pathways and a professionalism of the daily environment. Finally, the clubs were also assessed on their ability to offer low or no-cost options for players to participate on MLS NEXT teams, creating opportunities for a more comprehensive player pool, and promoting and embodying the diversity, equity, and inclusion values of MLS NEXT.