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Chattanooga FC Academy to join MLS NEXT in 2025-26 season


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (April 24, 2024) -- Chattanooga FC (CFC) announced today the launch of two elite youth teams - U13 (2013 birth year) and U14 (2012 birth year) - entering MLS NEXT, the top youth soccer development league in North America, starting in the 2025-2026 season.

MLS NEXT provides the best player development experience in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest levels of competition and to training to prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life.

Chattanooga FC is committed to fostering elite player development with a local community framework aimed at nurturing well-rounded individuals.

Chattanooga Football Club CEO Alton Byrd, said:

"Chattanooga Football Club is truly excited by the opportunity to enter MLS NEXT in 2025. We are planning in 2024 for entry in the league and MLS NEXT will give us a further platform for excellence that has already been created by our existing Chattanooga Football Club infrastructure. We are really looking forward to entrance and active participation in MLS NEXT representing the City of Chattanooga!"

Chattanooga Football Club Sporting Director and men’s first team head coach Rod Underwood, said:

"Joining MLS NEXT is a critical next step for the growth of the entire club. We continue to look at pathways for players and MLS NEXT provides those opportunities. We are truly excited to be joining the league."

Notable quotes from each expansion club can be found HERE.

MLS NEXT annually executes a rigorous expansion process to select new clubs to compete in the upcoming season. Several factors were considered, including top-notch training plans, experienced coaching, effective player ID and recruitment, high-quality facilities, cutting-edge technological opportunities, and defined player pathways. Off the field, clubs were required to demonstrate a mission-aligned culture with core values, overall community engagement, holistic development strategies, a strong commitment to access and representation, robust financial aid and scholarship programs, and a forward-thinking leadership team. These characteristics ensured that chosen clubs aligned with MLS NEXT's standards for accessibility, representation, and player development within North America’s most elite platform for youth soccer.

For more information on MLS NEXT and its member clubs, please visit MLS NEXT forms and resources can be found HERE.

Chattanooga Football Club began play in MLS NEXT Pro starting in 2024 and the Chattanooga FC Academy will join MLS NEXT in 2025-26. The academy serves players from kindergarten through 12th grade, and is one of the region's most successful youth soccer clubs, giving players a pathway from rec soccer to competitive soccer to college and professional soccer for players with that goal. CFC Academy develops soccer players of a wide range of ages and backgrounds through a unified system of coaches, teams, training, and facilities.

Launched in 2020, MLS NEXT is the most elite platform for youth player development in North America. With a commitment to innovation and providing access and representation, MLS NEXT players receive the best training and coaching as they prepare for their futures, both in soccer and in life. Throughout a season, MLS NEXT hosts four marquee events across the country, including the Generation adidas Cup, which features MLS academies playing against the top international clubs in a week-long tournament. Membership for the 2023-24 season includes 29 MLS academies, 114 Elite Academies (143 total clubs), 677 teams and over 15,000 players across the U.S. and Canada. Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas, Allstate, and DoorDash. For more information about MLS NEXT, visit