Major League Soccer announced today a new professional league called MLS NEXT Pro which was founded in June. Portland is one of the 21 inaugural teams. MLS NEXT Pro is the third league in the MLS ecosystem and is a new professional league that will complete the MLS integrated player pathway. The pathway progresses from MLS NEXT to MLS NEXT Pro to MLS.
The league has 21 inaugural clubs split into a Western and Eastern Conference. The West is composed of Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis and Vancouver. Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Miami, New England, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Rochester (Independent Pro Club) and Toronto make up the East. Atlanta, Charlotte, D.C., LA, LAFC, Nashville and Red Bulls New York will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2023.
The 25-week season will start in March in which each team will play 24 matches. Eight teams will qualify for the playoffs which will be played in September, culminating in a cup final.
The league’s leadership includes President Charles Altchek and SVP of Competition and Operations Ali Curtis. The full MLS NEXT Pro release can be found here.