NEW YORK CITY (July 8, 2022) – MLS NEXT Pro announced today its first international competition, the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Invitational, taking place later this month in the Salt Lake City area. MLS NEXT Pro’s Real Monarchs, Colorado Rapids 2 and Toronto FC II will play Chelsea FC Under-21s and Wolves Under-21s from England’s Premier League 2 (PL2) competition.
Matches will take place at both Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and Real Monarchs’ Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, over the course of nine days, July 19-27.
“International competition is a priority for our league. There are a lot of benefits, both on and off the field, that we are excited about,” said Ali Curtis, SVP of Competition & Operations, MLS NEXT Pro. “This year is the start to a competition that we hope to grow in the years ahead. We look forward to welcoming both Chelsea and Wolves to the U.S. and appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Premier League 2.”
The full schedule for the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Invitational is as follows:
· Tuesday, July 19: Real Monarchs vs Chelsea FC Under-21s (Rio Tinto Stadium, 7:30 p.m. MT)
· Thursday, July 21: Chelsea FC Under-21s vs. Wolves Under-21s (Zions Bank Stadium, 8:15 p.m. MT)
· Saturday, July 23: Real Monarchs vs. Wolves Under-21s (Zions Bank Stadium, 6:30 p.m. MT); Toronto FC II vs. Chelsea FC Under-21s (Zions Bank Stadium, 8:45 p.m. MT)
· Wednesday, July 27: Colorado Rapids 2 vs. Wolves Under-21s (Zions Bank Stadium, 8:00 p.m. MT)
The league with the most total points accumulated in head-to-head competition will be crowned Invitational Champion.
“The Summer of Soccer in Utah continues with this unique, unprecedented event,” said Real Salt Lake PresidentJohn Kimball. “First it was our Liga MX exhibition last month, then we hosted the U.S.A. Women’s National Team last week. Now our expert staff have the opportunity to show off our exquisite facilities to entities and individuals from the U.S., Canada and England for the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro Invitational, and we could not be prouder to provide this opportunity for our fans, as well as the participant Leagues and Clubs.”
Fans in the U.S. and abroad will be able to watch the four MLS NEXT Pro vs. PL2 matches exclusively on mlsnextpro.com. For fans interested in attending the matches, tickets are currently available for purchase online through RSL.com/tickets.
About MLS NEXT Pro
Launched in March 2022 by Major League Soccer, MLS NEXT Pro is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that completes the player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams. With 21 Clubs competing during the inaugural season – 20 MLS-affiliated and one independent club, Rochester New York FC – MLS NEXT Pro will grow the game through innovation and diversity by bringing professional soccer to new markets, creating career opportunities for professionals on and off the field, and providing communities with a strong sense of pride. Additional MLS-affiliated and independent clubs will join MLS NEXT Pro in the years ahead. Beginning in 2023, MLS NEXT Pro matches will be carried live on the Apple TV app as part of the monumental partnership between Apple and Major League Soccer. Through that partnership, from early 2023 through 2032, fans can get every live MLS match by subscribing to a new MLS streaming service, available exclusively through the Apple TV app. For more information about MLS NEXT Pro, visit mlsnextpro.com.
About Premier League 2
Premier League 2 (PL2) is an Under-21 competition which has a focus on technicality, physicality and intensity to bring club academy players as close as possible to a first-team experience.
PL2 is part of a suite of competitions that aims to best prepare players to make the transition from academy to senior football. This includes a variety of domestic cup competitions, matches involving senior opposition (such as through the EFL Trophy) and competitions against international peers.
The league is formed of two tiers, Division 1 and Division 2, with 14 teams in each, and the factor of promotion and relegation. For more information on PL2, visit premierleague.com