COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids announced today the launch of Rapids 2, which will compete as one of the inaugural teams in MLS NEXT Pro, a new, lower division professional league set to begin play spring of 2022.
Below are answers to a few questions about the new league and how it may impact the Rapids' player development system.
Q: What level of the soccer pyramid is the new league?
A: MLS NEXT Pro is a US Soccer sanctioned Division 3 league.
Q: When does the new league begin?
A: Play will begin in spring of 2022.
Q: Why did the Rapids elect to play in MLS NEXT Pro?
A: The Rapids and MLS see the new league as a comprehensive mechanism to control and improve the player development pathway for the club.
Q: What players will play in this league?
A: This new league will offer the opportunity for Academy athletes to close the competitive gap as players enter the Rapids First Team environment. Participation in the league extends to Academy players on amateur contracts, players signed directly to Rapids 2 contracts, and First Team players on loan.
Q: Why do this in 2022?
A: Rapids II will participate in the inaugural season in the league. This gives the club a timely and immediate ability to impact more players at an important phase of their development.
Q: How does the new league impact the current Academy set up?
A: Current player development program offerings will evolve to the following beginning in January 2022:
- Colorado Rapids (MLS)
- Colorado Rapids 2
- U17 Academy Team
- U15 Academy Team
- U14 Academy
- Futures Program
- Alliance Program (CRYSC, Rio Rapids, Black Hills Rapids)
Q: Will this negatively impact the way the Rapids develop young players?
A: In short, no. The club has long held the importance of youth development, and the introduction of this league will only amplify the Academy and the club's efforts to take our athletes to the next level.
Q: What about the Rapids' relationship with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks?
A: While the club has been happy with the returns from past USL affiliations, the addition of Rapids II gives the club full control of player development and the ability to include more players in this critical phase.
Q: Who will coach Rapids 2?
A: More information on coaching and technical staff will be available soon.
Q: Where will Rapids 2 play their home games?
A: Home game locations and the full schedule will be announced at a later date.
Q: Where can fans get tickets to Rapids 2 games?
A: More information on tickets will be available at a later date.
Q: Where can I find more information on Rapids 2?
A: More information including a dedicated presence on the web and social media handles will be unveiled as the season draws closer.