FRISCO, Texas – The FC Dallas Academy’s 2021/22 MLS Next season starts this week and here are five things to know ahead of the new campaign.
1. Age Groups and Teams
The FC Dallas Academy will field teams in the MLS Next U-13, U-14, U-15, U-17 and U-19 age groups. MLS Next also has a U-16 group but FCD merges its U-16 players with its U-17 team. Also, FCD has a U-12 Academy team that is too young for the MLS Next platform but it’s still a crucial component of the FCD Academy system. FC Dallas currently has 11 Academy products signed to Homegrown contracts in its first team, and MLS Next is a crucial stepping stone to that next level.
The four youngest age groups (U-13 through U-17) kickoff their MLS Next campaigns on Sept. 18 against the Houston Dynamo FC Academy at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco. FCD’s U-19s starts their season a week later against Real Colorado. The regular season runs through early June before filtering in the MLS Next Playoffs. The new season also features more games for each age group:
Chris Hayden, FC Dallas VP of Youth Soccer: “The competition structure is more robust with more games, more weekends with matches and a more regular, consistent schedule—which is one of the three pillars to our success as a club: you have to have good games to play. The league has done a good job dealing with the COVID protocols and putting together the competition plan.”
3. Path to Pro
Another change for this year affects the U-15 and U-17 age groups. Those groups are considered “path to pro” and they will play more games against fellow MLS academies to ensure the high levels of competition.
Chris Hayden: “The biggest change is that the U-15 and U-17 age groups are considered “pro pathway” age groups, meaning we will more frequently play MLS teams’ academies at a higher percentage than in prior years. It’s an attempt to really accelerate the development of in MLS clubs by increasing the frequency of meaningful and professional club matches.”