Cleveland to launch MLS NEXT Pro Team in 2025

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- Northeast Ohio Team Becomes Third Independent Club to Join MLS NEXT Pro –

- Cleveland Native and Former MLS and USMNT Player Justin Morrow Member of New Team’s Advisory Board -

NEW YORK CITY (November 21, 2022) – MLS NEXT Pro announced today the addition of a third independent club to the League. Cleveland, Ohio will launch a new team that plans to begin play in 2025, joining Rochester New York FC and the recently established Carolina Core FC as independent teams within MLS NEXT Pro, contingent upon U.S. Soccer Federation sanctioning.

“We’re thrilled to have Cleveland as the newest expansion club in MLS NEXT Pro,” said Charles Altchek, President of MLS NEXT Pro. "Cleveland Soccer Group cofounders Michael Murphy and Nolan Gallagher’s plan to build a club focused on winning championships while serving the community and entertaining their fans perfectly aligns with our vision. The addition of another strong independent club continues the momentum coming off our historic inaugural season as we look ahead to 2023 and beyond. The pride and passion Clevelanders have for their city speaks for itself and we look forward to the fans embracing the sport of soccer in the leadup to the World Cup being played in North America in 2026.”

In addition to preparing for the team’s inaugural 2025 season, Cleveland Soccer Group has established the 501(c)(3) Cleveland Soccer Group Foundation, which will be dedicated to creating positive outcomes for Northeast Ohioans through sport, community, art, nature and unity. The Foundation will focus on doing so through community and corporate collaborations, including the development and installation of mini-pitches and other projects to provide public access to the game of soccer.

“‘The beautiful game’ will bring Clevelanders together like never before,” said Murphy, who serves as CEO in addition to cofounder of Cleveland Soccer Group. “Our group is committed to a long-term vision of supporting professional men’s and women’s teams. Bringing MLS NEXT Pro to Cleveland in 2025 is an incredibly important first step, and we’re especially excited about being able to showcase Cleveland professional soccer to the world as our games will be broadcast globally on Apple TV as part of the long-term broadcast rights deal with MLS.”

Cleveland native and former MLS All-Star and U.S. Men’s National Team player Justin Morrow has been involved in bringing professional soccer to his hometown while helping shape Cleveland Soccer Group’s community-driven strategy as part of its Advisory Board. Morrow, who was an All-American while attending Cleveland’s Saint Ignatius High School, was named MLS’ 2021 Humanitarian of the Year after founding Black Players for Change in 2020, an independent organization consisting of over 170 players, coaches and staff from MLS working to bridge the racial equality gap that exists in society.

“Like most Clevelanders, my affinity for the city runs deep, and I’m committed to partnering with leaders like Michael and Nolan to have a positive impact,” said Morrow. “Having devoted most of my life to the game, I know that if we bring professional soccer to Cleveland with a ‘community-first’ mindset, it will bring about many positive changes to the region.”

More details about the Cleveland team, including name, stadium plans, crest and colors, will be announced at a later date.