CLEVELAND — Professional soccer is returning to Cleveland.

On Monday, the Cleveland Soccer Group announced that this city has landed an MLS Next Pro expansion team. The announcement was made at Pins Mechanical Company on W. 25th St. just ahead of the U.S. Men's National Team's 2022 FIFA World Cup opener against Wales.

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Cleveland's team will begin play in 2025.

Launched in 2022, MLS Next Pro is a professional soccer league that shares an affiliation with Major League Soccer (MLS). The league, which will expand from 21 teams to 28 teams in 2023, consists of 27 reserve sides for MLS clubs and the independent Rochester New York FC.

The league is classified as part of the third tier of the United States soccer league system and aims to "offer new opportunities to players, coaches, referees, and sports business professionals." Among the league's stated goals are accelerating the future of soccer in North America and creating an integrated path to MLS and beyond.

In addition to a video message from Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, the following individuals spoke at Monday's announcement:

  • Michael Murphy, President of the Cleveland Soccer Group
  • David Gilbert, President & CEO of Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission
  • Justin Morrow, Northeast Ohio native and former MLS player

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