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By rsl-az, 04/23/21, 3:15PM MST



PHOENIX (Friday, April 23, 2021)--RSL-AZ is proud to announce the acceptance of RSL-AZ North and RSL-AZ South into the Elite Academy League (EA) for the 2021-22 season. The league will serve our U13 to U19 boys who will now have access to the best in class development opportunities with seamless interaction and transition to the MLS Next platform.


Founded in 2020, the EA was created to expand the MLS youth best practices and standards to all the club’s top players, offering an unique ability for coaches to work together within the same platform with a common goal and direction.

While adopting the same standards of competition of MLS Next, EA offers further flexibility in two key areas:

1.    Permission for all players to participate in High School Soccer and,
2.  Revision of the substitution rules so that clubs can better utilize their player pools, especially when showcasing their players to college coaches.

The league provides a 20 plus game season, Regional and National events for all age group, leading to playoffs and the opportunity to play for a National Championship. In addition, college recruitment for the players U15-U19 is a major priority of the league, with programs designed to help clubs bring the best exposure and resources to their players with video, college attendance, and venues.

“Players’ development has always been our number one objective and by unifying   our elite platforms we can now maintain the same highest standards across our elite boys. Our top players can now easily play in both platforms enhancing our competitive advantage during league games, tournaments and national events.” Brent Erwin, RSL-AZ Technical Director, said. “We are very excited to once again be recognized as best class in youth development and the leader in Arizona and the Desert/South West region.”

“We’re really excited to be able to continue to challenge our players with a top national platform. One of the pillars for development is competition and the EA with test our players against some of the best regionally and nationally while providing vital collegiate exposure.” Mike Kraus, MLS Next Director said.


RSL-AZ will join the league with two teams per age group, one based in the North region and one based in the South region. This will offer all players the flexibility to train locally while competing in the same elite platform at a national level.  

“ We are very excited to be adding a regional level Elite Academy platform alongside our MLS Next platform. The EA affords top-level, skilled, dedicated Arizona players an opportunity to compete with the best of the best Southwest players traveling in a National arena. In addition, we are excited to be participating in National showcases facing the top teams in the nations.  The program will operate directly out of the RSL-AZ North region giving our players the benefit of training locally full time while competing regionally and nationally.” David Shaffer, EA Director North, said.

“Adding a regional level platform to the RSL AZ South region is very exciting, especially one that’s only second to none in the country behind our MLS Next program. The Elite Academy League will provide our players with an incredible opportunity to play against the best teams in the region and showcase their talent at a national level with increased college exposure. 

With the program operating directly out of the RSL-AZ South region, our players have the benefit of training locally full-time while competing regionally and nationally.   We are proud to be part of the Elite Academy League!” Said Andy Bonchonsky, South Director of Coaching.


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