MLS NEXT: Texas Expansion of Two Teams
MLS NEXT is expanding its footprint in Texas, as the youth U.S. soccer league has announced the addition of two new clubs from the Lone Star State. The new clubs are Houston Rangers SC and Dallas Hornets Soccer Club, both of which will field teams in multiple age groups, including U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, and U19.
The addition of Laredo Heat SC and Sporting United Soccer Club will increase MLS NEXT’s presence in Texas, which already includes FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo FC, and Austin FC. The league hopes that the expansion will help to identify and develop more young talent in the state, which has produced several notable players in recent years, including Weston McKennie and Chris Richards.
There’s certainly a lot of talent in North Texas (Dallas and Houston) so with more high-level teams, comes more opportunities for players to grow and develop. Both of the new MLS NEXT soccer clubs have founders who have played and coached at a very high level.
What is the Qualification for New Teams?
MLS NEXT expansion clubs were evaluated based on various criteria, including leadership and management, player development, and creating an inclusive club environment.
The leadership of a club was evaluated on factors such as the implementation of a meaningful soccer philosophy, the quality of the coaching staff, and ongoing coaching support and education. Clubs that showed a commitment to holistic player development and support emphasized the creation of individual performance pathways and a professional daily environment.
Additionally, the clubs were evaluated on their ability to offer low or no-cost options for players to participate on MLS NEXT teams, which creates opportunities for a more comprehensive player pool.
Lastly, the soccer clubs were also assessed on their ability to promote and embody the diversity, equity, and inclusion values of MLS NEXT.
MLS NEXT is a youth soccer league in the United States and Canada that is managed, organized, and controlled by Major League Soccer. It was introduced by the league in 2020 as a successor to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, and covers the under-13, under-14, under-15, under-16, under-17, and under-19 age groups.
Featured Image source: MLS NEXT