The MLS announces 21 clubs competing in a new developmental division
Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced the lucky 21 clubs who will compete in its new lower tier professional league beginning next year. This all started in June when they announced the formation of MLS Next Pro. This division would help players progress from the MLS Next youth divisions to the professional ranks. This section will witness the introduction of a mix of new and seasoned professionals.
This is something to look forward to in the new year, as it will begin in March 2022. MLS Next Pro will include 21 clubs in its initial 2022 season, divided into two conferences. The Western Conference will include teams from Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Portland, Salt Lake, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, and Vancouver.
The Eastern Conference will have teams from Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Miami, New England, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Rochester (which will be an independent pro club), and Toronto.
Not only that, but eight more MLS-affiliated teams, including Atlanta United, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, DC United, Los Angeles FC (LAFC), Nashville SC, and New York Red Bulls, will join MLS Next Pro in 2023.
MLS Next Pro will also introduce other independent clubs to the league in 2023 and beyond. This includes Rochester New York FC, formerly the Rochester Rhinos. Jamie Vardy, a Premier League star, is one of Rochester’s backers, having purchased a minority investment in the club in June.
Each club will play 24 games in this league set up for 2022, with eight clubs making the playoffs. The season will conclude with a cup final. In addition, apparel powerhouse Adidas will be the league’s first corporate sponsor. The league’s president has been named Charles Altchek, and Ali Curtis has been designated senior vice president of competition and operations.