Player Development, L.L.C. (“PDev”), a subsidiary of Major League Soccer, L.L.C. (“MLS”), organizes, manages, and administers the elite youth development platform (“Program” or “League” operating as “MLS NEXT”) with the mission of providing world class training, development, and competition for boys and select girls between the ages of 11–18 across the United States and Canada. MLS NEXT provides a professional player and elite development pathway for future college, professional, and international players, and includes league and postseason competition, as well as other development-focused initiatives.

Rules of Competition

Game Officials Fees 

The home Team will cover referee, assistant referee, and assignor fees for all age groups in MLS NEXT Games during the MLS NEXT Regular Season. The home and visiting Teams will split previously stated referee fees for all age groups at MLS NEXT Games that are not part of the MLS NEXT Regular Season, including the MLS NEXT Showcases, MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs, and any other MLS NEXT event requiring match officials.

Age Requirements

Age Group    Born on or After 

    U13          January 1, 2009 

    U14          January 1, 2008 

    U15          January 1, 2007 

    U16          January 1, 2006 

    U17          January 1, 2005 

    U19          January 1, 2003

Players on the U13, U14, U15, U16 and U17 MLS NEXT Teams may be selected for the U14, U15, U16, U17 and U19 Game Day Rosters, respectively.

Game Day Rosters

Each Team must create and submit via a digital form a Game Day Roster to the referee prior to an MLS NEXT Game. Each Game Day Roster must include all Players and Game Day Club Representatives. Clubs are responsible for verifying the accuracy of Game Day Rosters and signing a completed copy from the Game Officials after the game.

Game Roster Size

For U13 through U19 MLS NEXT Games, only 18 Players from the Roster will be eligible to participate in each Game, and these Players must be placed on the Game Day Roster (showing Players that will start and Players eligible for substitution). 

Bench and Technical Area

The bench and technical area are reserved for Players and Club Representatives listed on the Team’s Game Day Roster (max 18 Players, including seven (7) subs on bench). In addition, a maximum of four (4) injured Players marked as not Rostered may sit in the technical area and a maximum of five (5) registered Club Representatives may sit in the technical area, not including a registered Health Care Professionals (“HCP”), or Certified Athletic Trainers (“ATC”), video analyst, videographer, Club Sporting Director, or Club General Manager. Any person in the technical area during an MLS NEXT Game must be registered with PDev as a Player or Club Representative and listed on the Game Day Roster.

Game Length 

All U16 through U19 Games will be two 45-minute halves with a 15- minute half time. 

All U14 and U15 Games will be two 40-minute halves with a 15-minute half time. 

All U13 Games will be two 35-minute halves with a ten-minute half time.


Substitutions are allowed at any stoppage. Games shall follow the Technical Standards provided for at the beginning of each MLS NEXT Season.

The maximum limits for substitutions are: 

  • For U15, U16, U17, and U19 Games, there will be unlimited substitutions over three (3) moments in the game, plus half time, with no re-entry after exiting the match. 
  • For U13 and U14 Games, there will be unlimited substitutions over three (3) moments per half, plus half time, with no re-entry per half. 

Head Injury Substitution:

All substitutions relating to head injury, including whether to charge such substitution, shall be handled in compliance with the Concussion Protocol outlined in the Safety and Wellbeing Policy.


Clubs are required to have one white (or similarly light-colored) uniform and one dark uniform. Home Teams will always wear white/light-color uniforms and visiting Teams will be required to wear their dark/contrasting uniforms on single-Fixture weekends.

In the event a Club has a double Fixture weekend, please refer to the Game Day Guide for the uniform protocol. 

Soccer Balls 

All Games are to be played with the official Game ball. PDev will provide a set number of Game balls at no cost to the Clubs. No Game can be played without properly inflated Game balls. There shall be a minimum of four (4) Game balls at each game which shall be inspected and subject to approval by the referee. All age groups will play with size 5 balls, filled to 9.0–10.5 psi.

Game Report 

After each Game, the referee shall complete and sign the official Game Report form. The referee shall enter the game data using the online reporting system designated by PDev within 24 hours of the Game.

The Clubs will be responsible for reviewing the online Game Report and submitting corrections to the appropriate Member in a timely matter. The Game Report will be used to generate standings, track suspensions, and record statistics. 

Game Information 

On the Game Report, the referee shall note all occurrences of significance, such as injury (serious, any suspected head injury, or any injury that requires emergency medical attention), misconduct of Players leading to caution or expulsion, unsporting behavior by supporters and/or by Club Representatives, or any other person acting on behalf of a Club at the Game and any other incident happening before, during, and after the Game in as much detail as possible.