MNUFC2 Joins MLS Next Pro for Inaugural Season
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (Dec. 6, 2021) - Minnesota United and Major League Soccer announced MLS NEXT Pro and MNUFC2 as one of the 21 clubs that will compete in the new professional league's inaugural 2022 season. Adidas will serve as MLS NEXT Pro's first corporate sponsor. This is Minnesota United's first professional level developmental squad.
Established in June by Major League Soccer, the new professional league will complete an integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams. The new league will offer young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents while competing for an MLS NEXT Pro championship.
MNUFC2 will be coached by former Minnesota United first team video analyst Cameron Knowles. Prior to joining Minnesota United in 2021, Knowles spent nine years as a coach with the Portland Timbers, beginning with the 2012 MLS season. In those nine years, six were spent as an assistant coach, winning an MLS Cup in 2015 and three years as head coach for the Portland Timbers 2 team in the USL Championship. During his time in Portland, Knowles oversaw the transformation of Timbers 2, reaching the playoffs for the first time in team history in 2018, his first year as head coach. Additionally, he provided professional opportunities for academy players and developed players for the Portland first team. Knowles holds a USSF Pro License and has a Master's Degree in Psychology.
"We are very excited to be a part of the inaugural season of MLS NEXT Pro and applaud the league for creating a project that connects youth soccer with the first team," said MNUFC Chief Soccer Officer Manny Lagos. "Today's announcement will have an impact in youth soccer in the state of Minnesota and it provides an opportunity for this club to expand how we develop young players for the first team. We are lucky to have someone as experienced and knowledgeable as Cam Knowles leading this group. He has a great relationship with Adrian Heath and his staff, and we're looking forward to his leadership with this team."
Minnesota United will host a multi-day combine from January 5-7 to assist in recruitment for MNUFC2. The tryout will consist of four training sessions and small and large sided scrimmages. Registration will open tomorrow, December 7. There will be information on how to register on mnufc.com in the coming days.
MLS NEXT Pro will debut in 2022, a FIFA World Cup year, and just four years prior to the 2026 FIFA World Cup hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. MLS NEXT Pro will bring professional soccer closer to fans and supporters, while providing more opportunities for players, coaches, referees, and sports business professionals throughout North America.
Cities across North America will experience the excitement and passion of professional soccer through the inclusion of both independent teams and MLS-affiliated teams. The 21 clubs competing in MLS NEXT Pro's inaugural season include 20 teams affiliated with MLS clubs and one independent club, Rochester NY FC.
In addition to Rochester NY FC, the following MLS clubs will compete in MLS NEXT Pro's 2022 season:
Eight additional MLS-affiliated teams will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2023, including: Atlanta United, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, D.C. United, LA Galaxy, LAFC, Nashville SC, and New York Red Bulls. In addition to Rochester NY FC, MLS NEXT Pro will introduce additional independent clubs to the league in 2023 and beyond.
MLS NEXT Pro will kick off its inaugural season in March, just one month after Major League Soccer action starts, and see its season culminate in postseason action in September. The full 2022 match schedule and competition details will be announced at a later date.
Follow Minnesota United's social channels and check our website at mnufc.com for regular updates on the club.
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