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FAQ: Rapids 2 and MLS NEXT Pro

December 6, 2021 - MLS NEXT Pro (MLS NEXT Pro) - Colorado Rapids 2 News Release

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The Colorado Rapids announced today the launch of Rapids 2, which will compete as one of the inaugural teams in MLS NEXT Pro, a new, lower division professional league set to begin play spring of 2022. The club has appointed Brian Crookham as the team's general manager.

"We're excited to take part in MLS NEXT Pro as one of the league's inaugural teams," said Pádraig Smith, Colorado Rapids Executive VP & General Manager. "Rapids 2 will serve as a fundamental piece of our player development pathway by not only providing a competitive, professional environment for young talent to develop, but also giving us the ability to extend this opportunity to a broader range of players in our youth system during a critical phase in their development."

Rapids 2 will provide a professional platform to bridge the gap between the Rapids Academy and First Team. The new team will be composed of Rapids Academy players on amateur contracts, players signed directly to Rapids 2and players on loan from the Rapids First Team. As part of the club's participation in MLS NEXT Pro, the Rapids have concluded their formal partnership with USL Championship side Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

"We're grateful to the entire Switchbacks FC organization for being a wonderful partner over the past three seasons and for the key role it has played in the development of many of our young players," said Smith. "We look forward to seeing the club continue the great work they're doing both on the pitch and in growing the sport in Colorado."

Additional details on Rapids 2, including full coaching staff, competition schedule and venue will be announced at a later date.

Below are answers to a few questions about the new league and how it may impact the Rapids' player development system.

Q: What level of the soccer pyramid is the new league?

A: MLS NEXT Pro is a US Soccer sanctioned Division 3 league.

Q: When does the new league begin?

A: Play will begin in spring of 2022.

Q: Why did the Rapids elect to play in MLS NEXT Pro?

A: The Rapids and MLS see the new league as a comprehensive mechanism to control and improve the player development pathway for the club.

Q: What players will play in this league?

A: This new league will offer the opportunity for Academy athletes to close the competitive gap as players enter the Rapids First Team environment. Participation in the league extends to Academy players on amateur contracts, players signed directly to Rapids 2 contracts, and First Team players on loan.

Q: Why do this in 2022?

A: Rapids II will participate in the inaugural season in the league. This gives the club a timely and immediate ability to impact more players at an important phase of their development.

Q: How does the new league impact the current Academy set up?

A: Current player development program offerings will evolve to the following beginning in January 2022:

Colorado Rapids (MLS)

Colorado Rapids 2

U17 Academy Team

U15 Academy Team

U14 Academy

Futures Program

Alliance Program (CRYSC, Rio Rapids, Black Hills Rapids)

Q: Will this negatively impact the way the Rapids develop young players?

A: In short, no. The club has long held the importance of youth development, and the introduction of this league will only amplify the Academy and the club's efforts to take our athletes to the next level.

Q: What about the Rapids' relationship with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks?

A: While the club has been happy with the returns from past USL affiliations, the addition of Rapids II gives the club full control of player development and the ability to include more players in this critical phase.

Q: Who will coach Rapids 2?

A: More information on coaching and technical staff will be available soon.

Q: Where will Rapids 2 play their home games?

A: Home game locations and the full schedule will be announced at a later date.

Q: Where can fans get tickets to Rapids 2 games?

A: More information on tickets will be available at a later date.

Q: Where can I find more information on Rapids 2?

A: More information including a dedicated presence on the web and social media handles will be unveiled as the season draws closer.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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