Major League Soccer announced the addition of yet another component to the League's successful Hispanic grassroots lineup, Verano MLS (MLS Summer). Verano MLS provides youth ages 8-12 a free opportunity to play pick-up-style soccer twice-a-week in a safe and controlled environment. Working closely with select MLS teams, the six-week summer program will provide a weekly soccer playing destination, while creating a connection between youth soccer players and their favorite MLS stars.
Verano MLS joins the already successful MLS Hispanic grassroots lineup of MLS Futbolito, the League's official 4-v-4 soccer tournament, and Sueo MLS, a month-long tryout that drove significant media attention while creating the opportunity for one player to earn a roster spot with Chivas USA. Sueo MLS will expand to include multiple teams next season. MLS Futbolito is a series of all-day competition and family festival targeting the League's growing multicultural fan base and represents the largest touring Hispanic event hosted by a U.S. professional sports league.
“Verano MLS supports MLS' overarching goal of providing soccer playing opportunities for the masses,” said David Wright, Major League Soccer's Senior Director of Partnership Marketing. “We are excited to roll out this new grassroots initiative which, when combined with MLS Futbolito and Sueo MLS, provides yet another opportunity for the millions of youth playing the game in the U.S. to connect with Major League Soccer on a personal level.”
Verano MLS events will take place in four cities this summer: Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
In addition to free soccer training, participants will receive a Verano MLS adidas soccer ball, a Verano MLS adidas t-shirt and an opportunity to meet MLS players and coaches. Verano MLS participants will also receive a complimentary MLS game ticket for themselves and members of their family. In addition to on-field access, a special section in the stadium will be dedicated to Verano MLS participants and their families.
Each market will have two full-time MLS affiliated coaches who will be present for the entire six-week program. In addition, a minimum of five support coaches will be used to provide additional instruction and guidance. Support coaches will consist of players from MLS Developmental rosters, as well as MLS under-23 and MLS under-19 rosters.
Two-time World Cup player Wilmer Cabrera will oversee the Verano MLS program. After nine years with the Colombian national team and 18 seasons as a professional soccer player in Colombia, Argentina and Costa Rica, the now-retired Cabrera recently joined Major League Soccer in an administrative role, contributing to the growth of the sport through his new position as Manager of Fan Development.