MLS Development League
MLS is streamlining their pro pathway system by creating a development league for youth players. This is a step in the right direction. (Image Credit:

MLS Streamlining Development League System

Major League Soccer (MLS) is attempting to bridge the gaps between its academies and clubs with the formation of a new development league. The MLS’ steps towards a more streamlined system are certainly a step in the right direction.

The new development league is similar in a lot of ways to its American and foreign counterparts. The NBA has made it easier for high school seniors to skip college and join the G League Ignite team. The MLB allows for the opportunity to come up through the minors. And overseas, countries have as many as 4-6 leagues where skillful youngsters at the top clubs can navigate the world of soccer before jumping to the top flight.

This new development league – a name is certainly coming – streamlines the once complex process of making it to the top flight of professional soccer in the United States. The hope of MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott is to complete the pro pathway for academy players and take Major League Soccer into new markets, according to ESPN.

Abbott had to this to say in regards to the development league:

“One of the really key components of [the pro pathway] is to have a lower-division opportunity for players that have come up through the development system, but aren’t yet ready to play for their first team,” Abbott told ESPN. “We need to find a place for them to have meaningful competition and meaningful minutes and having a vibrant, lower division league is a way to do that.”


Not every MLS team, however, has a second-tier team affiliated with them. Because of this, independent teams from likely the USL Championship and USL League One will have spots within the league so that teams can loan out youth players to the USL squads and possibly scout some more senior members.

The USL appears to be on-board with the league for the time being. A spokesperson for the league had this to say:

“The more pathways there are for young players across the country, the better. We wish MLS success in their efforts and look forward to continuing our work together to grow the sport of soccer in the United States.”


A lot of the news right now is still speculation. Regardless of the league’s infancy though, the development league is a welcomed sight as it not only provides a greater and less complex opportunity for academy players to transition to the MLS but also illustrates the growing state of soccer in the United States.


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