FC Cincinnati for the first time in club history will send three squads to the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, beginning Saturday, June 25 at the Toyota Soccer Center at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The Orange and Blue’s U15, U17 and U19 squads will represent the club at the Cup Playoffs, which each squad qualified for by finishing atop their groups at the MLS NEXT Flex competition in Maryland in May.
“It’s a nice accomplishment to qualify for this for the players and staff after working so hard all year,” said Larry Sunderland, FC Cincinnati’s Director of Player Development. “As far as MLS Academies go, of all the teams that have three age groups for this I think we are the only one to have all three qualify, so it is a pretty big accomplishment.”
Each of the three age groups feature single-elimination, bracket style play which begins with the final 32 teams to reach this stage. Last season, FC Cincinnati’s U19 squad won its first two games before falling in the quarterfinals to Real Colorado.
“There’s a great deal of excitement going into it,” Sunderland said. “All three teams are facing big challenges going into Playoffs, and while the success of our teams at NEXT Flex was great preparation, that was our last competitive games, so we’ve had a month since then which is a concern, but that’s the structure. We’re very happy to be in this position and the coaches and players have been excitedly preparing and working on tactics and strategies.”
Each squad is guaranteed to play a minimum of three games. Should a team lose in bracket play, they will fall into the Showcase Round.
First Games (Round of 32):
U15 – Saturday, June 25 – 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT vs. LA Galaxy
U17 – Sunday, June 26 – 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT vs. Chicago Fire FC
U19 – Sunday, June 26 – 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT vs. Players Development Academy (New Jersey)
MLS NEXT, introduced in 2020, 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 and personal development opportunities that will prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life.