The 2022-23 MLS NEXT regular season, the third season of play for the burgeoning youth league, kicks off on Saturday and will feature 628 teams competing in nearly 8,000 matches over a ten-month calendar. Over 13,000 players from the country’s leading 137 clubs, including all 29 MLS academies, will play in up to six age groups: U13, U14, U15, U16, U17 and U19.
The 2022-23 season features top prospects from across the U.S. and Canada, in both MLS academies and elite club academies, competing for a chance to become MLS NEXT champions at the 2023 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs in June of 2023. Additionally, the 2022-23 MLS NEXT calendar will feature four premier events, including MLS NEXT Fest in December 2022, Generation adidas Cup in April 2023, MLS NEXT Flex – a qualifying event for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs – in May 2023, and the MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate in July 2023.
“Following our most ambitious season to date with the introduction of multiple national events in addition to an expansive regular-season schedule, we are excited to kick off the 2022-23 MLS NEXT season and build off the foundation laid in our previous two years to further the development of top players in the U.S. and Canada,” said MLS Technical Director of Youth Development, Fred Lipka. “With more than 600 teams and 13,000 players competing in MLS NEXT, we are excited to continue to see the level of competition rise in our program as MLS NEXT standouts make their impact in MLS and MLS NEXT Pro, and we look forward to generating more progress this coming year.”
MLS NEXT Fest
Held at the Empire Polo Ground in Indio, Calif. from December 2-8, 2022, MLS NEXT Fest features over 300 of the top youth teams across the United States and Canada competing in the MLS NEXT Fest Showcase and Generation adidas Cup qualifiers. The seven-day event provides an opportunity for North America’s top youth talent to be seen by college, national team and professional scouts/coaches in a single location.
Generation adidas Cup
The 2023 Generation adidas Cup is an elite youth tournament featuring 80 MLS and professional academies from around the globe that will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. from April 1-9, 2023.
MLS NEXT Flex
MLS NEXT Flex features 64 of the best MLS NEXT clubs from the U15, U16, U17, and U19 age groups battling for positioning in the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs. The event will take place at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., from May 12-16, 2023, and will provide the opportunity for 16 teams in each competing age division to secure a place in the season-culminating MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs. Participants in the event will qualify and be seeded based on their performance in regular season matches from August 2022 to March 2023. MLS NEXT Flex will also provide an opportunity for North America’s top youth talent to be seen by college, youth national team and professional coaches, as well as scouts and evaluators, in a singular location.
MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs & Showcase
Thirty-two of the top teams from the regular season will compete to be crowned MLS NEXT champion in the four oldest age groups (U15, U16, U17, U19) from June 17-25, 2023 at the Toyota Soccer Center and MoneyGram Soccer Park in Dallas-Fort Worth. Teams who do not qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs can participate in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase, which will be held at the same venue.
Sixteen of the 32 teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs based on their standings in their league table. League matches will be played on a regional basis from September 2022 to June 2023, featuring eight regional divisions – Florida, Frontier, Mid-America, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest.
The other sixteen teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs based on their performance at MLS NEXT Flex in May 2023. MLS NEXT Flex will feature the top 64 teams in each age group competing in 16 groups of four teams with the winner of each group advancing to MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.
MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate
The MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate on July 18, 2023 in Washington, D.C., will provide a world-class experience for the best young players in North America to showcase their talent on a national stage. Following the conclusion of the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase, the top MLS NEXT players will be selected by the MLS NEXT Player Selection Committee, which is made up of key MLS Player Development department personnel, to compete in an East vs. West game. Players will also be fully immersed into MLS All-Star week, with a full slate of evening programming events and activities in advance of gameday.