What is MLS NEXT Pro and why you should be excited about it

Tacoma Defiance won back-to-back Pacific Division titles in 2022 and 2023 and reached the Western Conference Semifinals last year. They will kick off their season on March 15 with a rematch of last year's Western Conference Semifinals against Austin FC II.

Tacoma Defiance v Earthquakes II
Tacoma Defiance v Earthquakes II / Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/GettyImages
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MLS NEXT Pro is a professional soccer league that started in 2022 in the United States and Canada. It is connected to Major League Soccer and has 29 teams. Most of them are reserve teams of MLS clubs, but two are independent. MLS NEXT Pro belongs to the third level of the United States soccer league system.

The league's goal is to make professional soccer more accessible and engaging for fans and supporters across North America. It also creates more chances for players, coaches, referees and sports business professionals to grow and excel in the sport. It connects the MLS NEXT youth development platform with the first teams of MLS clubs.

Carolina Core FC and Chattanooga FC, two new independent clubs, will join 27 MLS affiliates (29 clubs overall) in the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season, which kicks off on March 15. Each team will play a 28-match schedule (14 home/14 away) over 30 weeks. Clubs will face each divisional opponent three times, as well as other teams within their conference.

The majority of regular season matches, plus all Decision Day matches, playoff matches and MLS NEXT Pro Cup, will be available to watch live via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. The remainder of regular season matches will stream live on mlsnextpro.com.

The 2024 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs will once again feature the “pick-your-opponent” format that debuted during the 2023 postseason. This year will feature more teams qualifying for the playoffs (16 total), more teams making selections, and more knockout matches being played (15 total).

Eight teams will qualify for the playoffs from each conference, with seeds No. 1-4 in each conference hosting and selecting their opponents in the first round. In the second round, the highest remaining seed in each conference will select an opponent from any of the remaining three teams.

MLS NEXT Pro is an exciting addition to the North American soccer landscape, offering a new level of competition and exposure for the next generation of players and coaches. It also gives fans a chance to see their local talent in action and support their favorite MLS clubs' affiliates.

If you are a soccer fan, you should definitely check out MLS NEXT Pro and follow its progress throughout the season. You can find more information about the league, its clubs, its schedule, its standings, and its highlights on mlsnextpro.com or follow @MLSNEXTPRO on Twitter.

Tacoma Defiance 2024 season

Tacoma Defiance, the MLS NEXT Pro affiliate of Seattle Sounders FC, is gearing up for its third season in the league, hoping to build on its impressive performances in the previous two campaigns. The club won back-to-back Pacific Division titles in 2022 and 2023, and reached the Western Conference Semifinals last year, where it lost to eventual champions Austin FC II.

The 2024 season will see some changes for Tacoma Defiance. The club will face a new divisional rival, Real Monarchs, who moved from the Mountain Division to the Pacific Division. They will play each of its seven divisional opponents three times, as well as other intra-conference foes.

With the new head coach, Hervé Diese, Tacoma Defiance will kick off its season on March 15 with a rematch of last year's Western Conference Semifinals against Austin FC II at Parmer Field. The match is one of three featured on MLS NEXT Pro's Opening Night, and will be available to watch live on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app. The club will then host Colorado Rapids 2 on March 24 at Starfire Stadium in its home opener.

Some of the highlights of Tacoma Defiance's 2024 schedule include:

  • A home match against Cascadia rival Whitecaps FC 2 on April 21, followed by two road matches against the Canadian side on July 14 and September 21.
  • A road match against LA Galaxy II on March 31, followed by a home match against LAFC 2 on April 7. The club will face both Southern California sides again later in the season.
  • A road match against Earthquakes II on June 16, followed by a home match against Timbers2 on June 30. The club will face both Northern California sides again later in the season.
  • A home match against Real Monarchs on June 26, followed by a road match against the Utah side on August 11. The club will face Real Monarchs again at home on September 13.
  • A Decision Day matchup against St. Louis CITY SC 2 on October 6 at CITYPARK. The match will determine the final playoff positioning for both clubs.

A soccer team and a community partner, Tacoma Defiance supports RAVE Foundation, the charitable arm of Sounders FC. By buying tickets, you help RAVE Foundation use soccer to inspire youth and strengthen communities.