It was confirmed today that Real Monarchs SLC will be leaving the USL Championship and join 20 other clubs in the newly announced MLS NEXT Pro league for the 2022. This new professional league will be part of the MLS family and provide young players and experienced professionals an opportunity to develop their talents beyond the academy level in MLS NEXT. Head Coach Jamison Olave will continue with the team as will Yekeson Subah, Timi Sobowale and Charlie Wehan from the 2021 Monarchs side.
The Monarchs will compete in the Western Conference along with Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Portland, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis and Vancouver. The Monarchs will have 24 league matches during the 2022 season, equally divided between home and away fixtures, with the a total of 8 teams entering the playoffs. Play in the new league will begin in March of 2021 and continue through playoffs scheduled for September 2021.
According to RSL Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations, Rob Zarkos, “MLS NEXT Pro provides us the opportunity to continue developing our RSL Academy players and those players signed to MLS contracts who are not seeing minutes with the first team, to provide them with game experience and minutes at the professional level. This has been the player development model we have executed for the past seven years that has allowed us to develop our homegrown athletes into first team players such as Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera and David Ochoa, among several others.”
The Eastern Conference in the new league will consist of Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Miami, New England, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Rochester and Toronto during the 2022 season. Atlanta, Charlotte, D.C., LA, LAFC, Nashville and NY Red Bulls will join during the 2023 season. In addition to Rochester NY FC MLS NEXT Pro will introduce additional independent clubs to the league in 2023 and beyond.