Major League Soccer allows clubs to create a clear path from amateur soccer to the professional league while retaining the rights to the players that they help develop. The Academy’s top players in each age group will be identified as Homegrown Players after spending 12 months in the program. A Homegrown Player who is talented enough to play in MLS has the ability to sign a Generation Adidas contract for his hometown club and not be placed in the MLS SuperDraft.
The Colorado Rapids Academy was formed in accordance with Major League Soccer’s 2006 Homegrown Player Initiative. The Academy program is designed to identify and develop players that can ultimately play meaningful minutes for the Colorado Rapids first team.
Launched in the spring of 2007, the Academy initially participated in the Super Y League. In August of 2007, the Rapids Soccer Academy was accepted as a charter member of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy, a nationwide youth development initiative, organized by the U.S. Soccer Federation, created to enhance the development of the country’s top players through high technical standards and a focus on meaningful competition
In February 2013, the Rapids announced that the Development Academy teams would be fully funded by the club. The Rapids’ program includes Development Academy teams at the U-13, U-14, U-15, U-17 levels, with all administrative, coaching, facilities, equipment, travel and other costs covered by the club.
In 2020, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the dissolution of the Development Academy. Major League Soccer stepped in to fill the void with the launch of MLS NEXT, a new elite youth development platform created by Major League Soccer in collaboration with the top youth academies around the country. MLS NEXT ushers in the future of player development in North America. The Colorado Rapids kicked off its inaugural season of MLS NEXT with U-19 and U-17 matches against Real Colorado on September 11, 2020 at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park. The match was streamed to thousands of spectators to launch the new league.
For more information about MLS NEXT, please visit MLSSoccer.com/MLSNEXT.