MLS NEXT today announced the key dates for the 2023-24 season, which will include the top youth players in North America competing in league play and at the five national premier events. The 2023-24 season marks MLS NEXT’s fourth as a program and will feature 677 teams competing in nearly 11,000 matches over a ten-month calendar. More than 15,000 players from the country’s leading 143 clubs, including all 29 MLS academies, will play in up to six age groups: U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17, and U-19.
The upcoming season will see the top prospects from across the U.S. and Canada, in both MLS academies and MLS NEXT Elite academies, vying for a chance to become MLS NEXT champions at the 2024 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs in June of 2024. The MLS NEXT calendar will feature five premier national and international events during the season – MLS NEXT Fest in December 2023, Generation adidas Cup in March and April 2024, MLS NEXT Flex in May 2024, the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, and the MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate in July 2024.
“After a record-setting 2022-23 MLS NEXT season that saw more than 9,000 games played and our most skilled year of competition, we are looking forward to advancing MLS NEXT once again in 2023-24,” said MLS NEXT General Manager, Justin Bokmeyer. “This season, we are thrilled to welcome 11 new expansion clubs, host various premier events at new locations, and showcase the talent of MLS NEXT players before they progress through the player pathway and make an impact in MLS, MLS NEXT Pro, or in college.”
MLS NEXT Fest
Moving to a new location in 2023, MLS NEXT Fest will be held at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix, Ariz. from December 5-10, 2023, MLS NEXT Fest is the largest event in the 2023-24 season, as over 300 teams from the United States and Canada will compete in the MLS NEXT Fest Showcase across four different age groups. The six-day event is one of the most-attended by college, national team, and professional scouts/coaches during the entire MLS NEXT season as more than 800 matches will be played in a single location.
Generation adidas Cup
The 2024 Generation adidas Cup is one of the most prestigious and competitive youth tournaments in global soccer with 80 MLS and international club academy teams competing across the U-15 and U-17 age groups. MLS academies have won both age groups in each of the last two editions of the tournament. For the second-straight year, the event will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. from March 30 – April 7, 2024.
MLS NEXT Flex
MLS NEXT Flex is a qualifying competition for the 2024 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs. The U-15, U-16, U-17, and U-19 age groups will each have 64 teams battling to clinch a position in the postseason with their performance. The event will take place at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., from May 10-14, 2024, and the top seed in each group of four teams will punch their ticket to the season-culminating MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs. Participants in the event will qualify and be seeded based on their performance in league matches from September 2023 to March 2024.
MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase
Thirty-two of the top teams from the regular season will compete to win an MLS NEXT Cup championship in four different age groups (U-15, U-16, U-17, U-19) from June 15-23, 2024 at a new location to be announced in the fall of 2023. Teams who do not qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs can participate in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase, which will be held at the same venue. U-13 and U-14 age groups will also participate in the MLS NEXT Cup Showcase in 2024.
Sixteen of the 32 teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs based on their standings in the league table. League matches will be played on a regional basis from September 2023 to June 2024, featuring eight divisions – Florida, Frontier, Mid-America, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. The other sixteen teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs based on their performance at MLS NEXT Flex in May 2024.
MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate
The MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate will highlight the best young players in North America as they showcase their talent on a national stage. Following the conclusion of the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, the top 44 MLS NEXT players from the 2023-24 season will be selected to compete in an East vs. West match on the morning of the MLS All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. As part of their selection, the players will be integrated into MLS All-Star week, with a full slate of events and activities in advance of the All-Star Game.