Minnesota United announced Monday that its new MNUFC2 development team is one of 21 clubs that will play in MLS NEXT Pro's inaugural season beginning in March.
Established by MLS last June, the new league will provide what the league calls an "integrated player pathway" from MLS NEXT Pro to MLS first teams. The new league is intended to develop and showcase talent both young players and experienced professionals alike.
It is the Loons' first pro-level development team. Their former first-team video analyst Cameron Knowles will coach MNUFC2. He coached nine years in the Portland Timbers' system before coming to Minnesota.
All but one of the 21 teams will be run by MLS clubs. The exception is an independent pro club in Rochester, N.Y.
MNUFC2 is one of 11 teams in the Western Conference spread from Minnesota, St. Louis and Kansas City eastward to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.
Minnesota United remade its academy system with a youth-development program that debuted last fall.
Loons chief soccer officer Manny Lagos, in a statement, said MLS NEXT project and his club's new second team "connects youth soccer with the first team" and creates an opportunity "to expand how we develop young players for the first team."