MLS NEXT recently announced a new initiative to recognize the contributions of MLS NEXT Elite Academies (not part of MLS Academies) in their role in the professional player pathway of their players.
Eligible MLS NEXT Elite Academies will be compensated for elite players that progress through the professional pathway from MLS NEXT >> MLS Club >> MLS First-team (as a Homegrown player).
What does these mean for non-MLS NEXT Clubs? They will have a vested interest in recruiting and developing players throughout their programs.
Most of them will stay in their respected academies but some will go on to join a MLS Academy. Subsequently, they’ll get compensated if the players go on to play professionally in the MLS.
Eligibility for the Grant
To be eligible for the MLS NEXT Development Grant, clubs must adhere to the following:
- They must currently be participating in the MLS NEXT
- They must register the player immediately before the player moves to an MLS Academy, MLS NEXT Pro, or MLS First Team
The program will be available to current players and players who were registered with an MLS NEXT Elite Academy at the start of the 2020/2021 season.
If qualified, the MLS NEXT Elite Academies may receive the grant in three different ways;
- The player signs a professional contract as a Homegrown player (with the MLS club he moved to from the eligible MLS NEXT Academy).
- The player appears in a certain number of MLS games (milestones are 1st, 17th, and 34th games).
- The player is transferred for a fee from an MLS club to a non-MLS club outside of the U.S. and Canada)