This article was originally published on MLS Soccer.
We are focused on delivering world-class player development for the top talent in the U.S. and Canada. This requires a commitment to the central areas of player development:
The rules, regulations and format of MLS NEXT competitions are designed with the best interest of the player’s development. While team success is important and will be rewarded, the primary objective of the platform is to push individuals outside of their comfort zone, accelerate their growth and showcase their talents.
Click here for more details on the current competitions.
The daily environment is where the majority of development takes place. Quality coaching at high frequency with top players in high performance environments will better prepare players for meaningful competition. As one of the few year-round, domestic youth training programs, MLS NEXT not only provides high quality training environments, but more repetitions in those environments than any league at any level in the U.S. and Canada.
High quality coaching is central to the development and growth of players. MLS NEXT coaches are committed to the development of players and receive continuing education specific to the best approaches to player development. We work and collaborate with global leaders in the space, including the French Football Federation, who has provided their world class training to over 100 coaches, and that number increases every year.
Importantly, while winning games will always be important, MLS NEXT coaches are measured by the growth and development of each player – becoming a better player, growing as a person, attending college and signing a professional contract are the true benchmarks of their success.
An often-overlooked segment of elite player development in youth sports is the implementation of plans for individual growth. Each MLS NEXT player will receive a holistic plan for personal growth, including on-field, strength and conditioning, academic, college placement and specific support tailored for the needs of the individual.
Player Identification & Recruitment
MLS NEXT recognize the challenge of COVID-19 and the cancellation of many men’s soccer college Fall seasons raises questions and concerns related to college recruiting by many players and their families. We understand the importance of the college pathway and appreciate that participation in our platform provides a unique opportunity for talented players and college coaches to better evaluate this decision. This dynamic also applies to prospective National Team players. Therefore, we have been developing and will be implementing innovative approaches to address this issue, including:
- Creation of College Coaches Committee
- Youth National Team Advisory Committee
- Alternative Digital Media Evaluation Platform
- Virtual meetings among players, families and college coaches to discuss the current landscape
- Schedule regional showcase/rivalry games for older ages
MLS NEXT will also aim to provide more opportunities to more players to broaden the pool of talent entering the elite youth landscape. No cost and low-cost programs will be introduced around the country to reduce barriers for new players to enter the pathway to professional soccer.