MLS Next launches as US Development Academy replacement

MLS has officially launched their new youth development league under the name MLS Next. Play kicks off for the participating club his weekend.

Here locally, that means a head to head series between FC Dallas and Solar SC on Saturday, the only two clubs in North Texas taking part in the MLS Next league since Dallas Texans opted for ECNL only.

Side note: Both FC Dallas and Solar SC are also taking part in ECNL along with Texans in the Texas Conference.

The MLS Next consists of 6 age brackets for boys: U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, and U19. Of particular interest in the break up of the formally combined U16/U17 age group.

While there was a rumor FCD would keep a unified U17 team, they are listed as fielding a U16 team. That’s particularly good for FC Dallas as the U16/17 team would have been overloaded. Breaking that group up is really good for the next two FCD classes anyway.

The MLS NEXT fall 2020 competition schedule will be created and announced in four-week phases in order to adjust to evolving health and safety recommendations. 

MLS Next Rules and Regulations

A couple things jumped out at me from reading the MLS Next regulations PDF.

  • Club territory is dead – “No Club has exclusive territory rights. Clubs may recruit players for participation on Clubs from any geographic region.”

    UPDATE (9/25/20): Since I am still get asked about this… No. This has nothing to do with MLS Homegrown territories. I never said they did, this post doesn’t say they did, they don’t. This is about Academy to Academy recruiting.
    “These MLS NEXT Rules do not in any supersede or invalidate any other territorial restrictions to which a Club may be subject.”

  • Once a year club application – “The MLS NEXT Program Staff will aim to review and evaluate each application by January 1 of each calendar year.”
  • Clubs can play in outside tournaments – with permission and only in events that follow “the MLS NEXT Technical Framework and are in compliance with the standards outlined in the MLS NEXT Outside Competition Standards.”
  • No high school – “Club Players must agree to forgo participating simultaneously in both (1) MLS NEXT and (2) high school or middle school soccer.” Exceptions for soccer school scholarship players.
  • Full-Time players can only be added once a year (no date listed) – “Clubs will have one period during the MLS NEXT Season (September 1, 2020 through April 2, 2021) at which time Players may be added as full-time”
  • 18 player on game-day roster – “For U-13 through U-19 MLS NEXT Games, only 18 Players from the Roster will be eligible to participate in each Game, and these Players must be placed on the Game Day Roster”
  • Recommended starts and minutes – players “are recommended but not required to start in at least 25% of their Club’s MLS NEXT Games during the season. Additionally, we recommend that U-13, U-14 and U-15 players participate in 50% of the minutes played each season in their age group.”
  • Division tiebreakers in order: Head to head, wins, GD, GF, Aways GD, Away GF, Home GD, Home GF, coin toss
  • Game Length – U16-U19 45s minute halves. U15-U15 40 minute halves, U13 35 minute halves.
  • Limited subs moments and no re-entry – U14 to U19 “unlimited substitutions over three (3) moments in the game, plus half time with no re-entry after exiting the match.: U13 “Unlimited substitutions over three (3) moments per half, plus half time, with no re-entry per half.”

FC Dallas vs Solar SC Schedule

FC Dallas opens MLS Next play against Solar on Saturday (September 12th).

U13 (2008s)1 pm
U14 (2007s)11 am
U15 (2006s)1 pm
U16 (2005s)3 pm
U17 (2004s)11 am
U19 (2002s & 2003s)9 am

Texas Based Clubs in MLS Next

Austin FC
FC Dallas
Houston Dynamo
Houston Dynamo Unidos
RGV Toros Academy
RISE Soccer Club (Formally RISE Texans)
San Antonio FC
Solar SC
Total FC (Houston)

There are no Oklahoma teams participating in MLS Next at this time.

MLS Next at launch in 2020.


  1. Previously DA did not allow players in the ODP process is this still the case? Was there any mentioned in the by laws about participation in ODP from a MLS NEXT Player.

  2. Can a player be on the MLS Next roster and still play in another league? We are U13 and just looking for more playing opportunities. Can you send me a copy of the pdf?

    1. First, check with your club. they may have their own rules.
      b. Player Participation in Outside Competitions

      Club Players must meet all attendance and participation requirements under the MLS NEXT Rules and under any individual Club requirements with respect to training and MLS NEXT Games for their Club during the MLS NEXT Season. Absent extenuating circumstances (to be determined by PDev and the Club), the failure to meet those requirements should result in the Player’s removal from the Club. PDev strongly encourages Clubs to ensure that Players meet the attendance and participation requirements – Clubs that do not take appropriate action to ensure that such attendance and participation requirements may be subject to Sanctions.

      Clubs may not permit any full-time Club Player to participate in non- MLS NEXT soccer activities during the MLS NEXT Season, except as set forth in this Section and in connection with a Player’s National Team duty and/or Youth National Team Identification Center participation. Clubs will be held accountable for the actions of their Players and Club Representatives, as well as the Club’s parents, spectators, and volunteers. Club Players will be subject to discipline by both their own Club and PDev.

  3. I have a question regarding the MLS Next rules on allowing players to play high school or middle school soccer only if they are under scholarship. Can you provide more details into that clause? What are the stipulations and criteria of scholarships that fit criteria to allow HS play too?

    1. First, be sure and check with your club.

      c. Player Participation in Middle and High School Soccer
      Club Players must agree to forgo participating simultaneously in both (1) MLS NEXT and (2) high
      school or middle school soccer.
      Except as set forth herein, players who participate in high/middle school soccer are ineligible to
      participate in MLS NEXT Events.
      Only players who have been granted a waiver by PDev will be allowed to remain on their Club’s
      Roster during the high school soccer season (waivers are not available for middle school). This
      waiver must be granted by PDev before September 12, 2020, to be considered for the Roster
      exemption for the 2020-2021 MLS NEXT Season. The waiver eligibility guidelines are as follows and
      further information may be found in the MLS NEXT High School Waiver:
      i. The Player received or will receive financial aid dependent on high school
      soccer participation.
      ii. The Player has been accepted into a private high school based on soccer
      Although Clubs are not limited to a specific number of waivers, the number is naturally self-limiting
      to field a full Team throughout the MLS NEXT Season.
      Full-time Players registered with a Club who do not meet waiver eligibility and choose to play with
      their high school team will not be allowed to re-enter the Program during the same MLS NEXT Season
      after participating in the high school season with their current or a different Club.

  4. Hello again, would you be able to share the pdf of the rules of the MLS next? There is no contact info on their website either.

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