Audi of America and Major League Soccer on Wednesday announced a league-wide, multi-year initiative to further elevate the game of soccer in North America by enhancing the on and off-field experience at MLS academies.
Launched during the festivities at the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, the partners unveiled a brand-new youth academy support program, Audi Goals Drive Progress, to help provide funding for MLS academies. Audi will kick off the program by committing $5,000 for every goal scored during the All-Star game, $500 for every goal scored in the regular season, $2,000 for every goal during the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs from October 19 through November 10, and $10,000 for every goal scored during MLS Cup for up to a $1 million total commitment of funds in 2019.
With a focus on advancing the next level of soccer in North America, the program funding will expand the breadth of academy resources through contributions toward player education, housing and transportation. As part of the education initiative, critical focus will be placed on off-field academics support through Audi Performance Centers helping to ensure young players are supported to maintain excellence on the pitch and in the classroom. The objective is to provide long-term benefits for academy stakeholders including players, the clubs themselves, parents of the athletes, and more.
Audi Performance Centers, located at select MLS academies, will be equipped with a vast range of technology, tutorial and educational resources to help enrich off-field academic development. One of the first Audi Performance Centers will open at Orlando City SC in the late summer of 2019.
“Audi has been an invaluable supporter of Major League Soccer and our clubs since 2015, and this new initiative to support MLS Academies is extraordinary,” said Todd Durbin, MLS executive VP of competition and player relations. “A forward-thinking partner, Audi recognizes the value of collaborating with MLS in advancing the game across North America. We look forward to working with Audi to positively impact the next generation of soccer players for many years to come.”
Soccer legend, ESPN commentator and champion of the sport Taylor Twellman joins Audi and MLS in his support as ambassador for the ‘Audi Goals Drive Progress’ program.
“Youth soccer development in North America has been a real passion point for me since my playing days and I truly believe that MLS Academies can be the focal point of our sport in North America,” said Twellman. “It’s essential that they up their game to help ensure the Homegrown Players are competitive at the highest levels for years to come, so I’m excited to work with Audi and MLS to help raise awareness for their new program.”
Twellman expanded on his involvement in the program in a piece penned for The Players' Tribune.
As a former @MLS player, @TaylorTwellman believes the future of the league begins with supporting their Youth Academies.— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) July 31, 2019
He shares what it takes to grow the game and why #EveryGoalCounts. (In partnership with @Audi)https://t.co/0oOdKf64tC
Getting fans involved
Fans in each MLS market can help make an impact via their own social media channel engagement. Starting on July 31, each week, fans that are legal residents of the United States and Canada who are 13 years of age or older can support each of their team’s goals by posting a celebratory message on their Twitter and/or Instagram accounts using their team-specific hashtag, fans are also encouraged to tag @audi for additional engagement. At the end of the season, the team with the highest average fan social posts per game can earn an additional $50,000 for their club’s Academy. For full official rules, go to www.gdpfanfaceoff.com.
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