Major League Soccer has announced that the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will take place in Frisco, Texas, from June 25 – July 3. MLS NEXT Cup champions will be crowned in four age groups: U15, U16, U17, U19.
According to MLS, the MLS Next Cup Playoffs are designed to replicate the current MLS playoff format and will be single elimination with 32 teams in each age group. Teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs on a points-per-game basis from the MLS NEXT regular season.
“The MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will provide more opportunity for clubs to play important matches and our players to further showcase their abilities in front of scouts and coaches,” said MLS NEXT Technical Director Fred Lipka. “This will be the culmination of an exciting season and serve as a celebration of everything our players, coaches, referees, and staff achieved over the last year.”
Twenty-seven matches will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com with six matches taking place on FC Dallas’ stadium field.
“We are very excited to host the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup at our facilities,” said Luchi Gonzalez, Head Coach of FC Dallas. “As a club, developing homegrown talent is something we have been focused on for many years and is evident in the talented players emerging from our club. MLS NEXT is an extremely valuable component as we continue to enhance the professional player pathway and we look forward to welcoming the best players in our country to Dallas in June.”
MLS NEXT Match Evaluators; US Soccer’s Director of Talent Identification, Tony Lepore; youth national team coaches; and various college coaches will be in attendance.
MLS NEXT Match Evaluator Program
MLS NEXT Match Evaluators are former professional players and coaches, evaluating MLS NEXT matches to assess the quality of play and identify top talents. The MLS NEXT Match Evaluator Program will debut at the event this summer and continue into the 2021-22 MLS NEXT regular season and beyond. In addition, each match will be filmed and then analyzed so each team is able to review their match in a similar way to what current MLS teams are doing. MLS NEXT will also produce a post-event technical report and analysis.
MLS NEXT Cup Showcase
Teams that do not qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs have the opportunity to play in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase, which provides an exposure platform for players to play in front of coaches and scouts from colleges, youth national teams, and professional clubs. All clubs participating in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase will have three matches in four days. In the evenings, players will be selected to participate in the MLS NEXT Showcase Best Of matches.
Prior to arrival in Frisco, MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase will include a week of virtual education programming for all players, coaches, and referees designed to prepare the clubs for their participation and provide valuable insight into what it takes to improve as players, coaches, and referees to reach each individual’s maximum potential.