U13 Academy at the Development Academy Winter Showcase
NEW YORK – The future of the sport descends on the Dallas Metroplex
as the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will take place from June 25 – July 3 to crown MLS
NEXT Cup champions in four age groups (U15, U16, U17, U19). The top 128 teams in the
nation will participate in the championship tournament to conclude the ten-month inaugural
season. Twenty-five matches will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com with six matches taking
place on FC Dallas’ stadium field in Frisco, Texas.
The MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will be a single-elimination competition with 32 teams in each age
group. Teams will qualify for MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs on a points per game basis from their
performance in the MLS NEXT regular season.
“The MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs will provide more opportunity for clubs to play important
matches and our players to further showcase their abilities in front of scouts and coaches," said
MLS NEXT Technical Director Fred Lipka. "This will be the culmination of an exciting season
and serve as a celebration of everything our players, coaches, referees and staff achieved over
the last year."
“We are very excited to host the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup at our facilities,” said Luchi
Gonzalez, Head Coach of FC Dallas. “As a club, developing homegrown talent is something we
have been focused on for many years and is evident in the talented players emerging from our
club. MLS NEXT is an extremely valuable component as we continue to enhance the
professional player pathway and we look forward to welcoming the best players in our country to
Dallas in June.”
MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase will include a significant focus on talent identification
and technical analysis with MLS NEXT Match Evaluators, U.S. Soccer’s Director of Talent
Identification, Tony Lepore, youth national team coaches and a vast assortment of college
coaches in attendance. MLS NEXT Match Evaluators are former professional players and
coaches, evaluating MLS NEXT matches to assess the quality of play and identify top talents.
The MLS NEXT Match Evaluator Program will debut at the event this summer and continue into
the 2021-22 MLS NEXT regular season and beyond. In addition, each match will be filmed and
then analyzed so each team is able to review their match. MLS NEXT will also produce a post-
event technical report and analysis.
Prior to arrival in Frisco, MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase will include a week of virtual
education programming for all players, coaches and referees designed to prepare the clubs for
their participation and provide valuable insight into what it takes to improve as players, coaches
and referees to reach each individual’s maximum potential.
Teams that do not qualify for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs have the opportunity to play in the
MLS NEXT Cup Showcase, which provides an exposure platform for players to play in front of
college, youth national team, and professional coaches and scouts. All clubs participating in the
MLS NEXT Cup Showcase will have three matches in four days. In the evenings, players will be
selected to participate in the MLS NEXT Showcase Best Of matches.
Official MLS NEXT partner, adidas, will supply match balls for the entire tournament and will
have additional programming around the event. More information about MLS NEXT Cup
Playoffs and Showcase can be found at MLSsoccer.com/MLSNEXT.
ABOUT MLS NEXT
MLS NEXT is a new paradigm for player development, launched in 2020 to transform youth
soccer in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a
commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest level of competition,
training and personal development opportunities that will prepare them for their futures, both in
soccer and in life. Current membership includes 118 clubs, 521 teams and over 11,000 players
across the U.S. and Canada. Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas and Carolina Online
at the University of South Carolina. For more information about MLS NEXT,
Hartford Athletic has signed forward Walmer Martinez, pending league and federation approval.
Martinez was invited to Hartford’s Invitational Combine where he performed well enough to earn an invitation to preseason training. He graduated from Division II Cal State-Monterey Bay in 2019. In his senior season, he scored 13 goals, second most in California Collegiate Athletic Association. Despite only playing two seasons with the Otters, he finished his career second all-time in assists (16), and fifth all-time in goals scored (17). Martinez has played for USL League Two sides Santa Cruz Breakers FC and Des Moines Menace.
“It is always a pleasure to offer a player a pro contract. Walmer has earned the right to be here,” said Hartford Athletic Head Coach Harry Watling. “He is an excellent finisher and versatile player, able to play across the whole front line. His energy and passion match mine as the Head Coach."
Hartford Athletic has now signed the following players for the 2021 season:
Forward: Sebastian Elney, Bradford Jamieson IV, Walmer Martinez, Preston Tabort Etaka, Alfonso Vazquez
Midfielder: Nii Armah Ashitey, Danny Barrera, Christian Gómez, Conor McGlynn, Luka Prpa, Arthur Rogers, Gabriel Torres
Defender: Younes Boudadi, Nicolás Cardona, Thomas Janjigian, Alex Lara
Goalkeeper: Jeff Caldwell, Carlos Merancio
More signings will be announced in the coming weeks.