NEW YORK, NY – MLS NEXT announced on Thursday that Whitecaps FC BMO MLS Academy midfielder Jeevan Badwal has been selected to the second annual MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate. The game will provide a world-class experience for North America’s rising stars to showcase their talents in an East vs. West format at the Naval Academy’s Glenn Warner Soccer Facility in Annapolis, Maryland on Wednesday, July 19 at 7:30 a.m. PT. The match will be streamed live from MLS NEXT’s (@mlsnext) TikTok account with multiple access points in the app.
Badwal, who is a part of the 'Caps U-17 team, has been a key player for both club and country this season. In addition to playing in MLS NEXT, the 17-year-old midfielder has also made his pro debut with Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) in MLS NEXT Pro with two appearances so far. At the international level, the resident of Surrey, BC started every match for Canada's U-17 men's national team at the Concacaf U-17 Championship, helping his country qualify for the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup this November.
"We are very proud of Jeevan on earning this selection to the MLS NEXT All-Star Game," said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC sporting director. "As soccer is a team sport, his selection is also a reward to his teammates and coaches that have all worked the entire year together to continue developing their game. Since joining our academy in 2019, Jeevan has made amazing steps and this nomination is a reflection of his efforts. We're looking forward to cheering him on and helping him continue to progress in his career."
MLS NEXT and Allstate will provide the selected players with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during MLS All-Star Week, which will include a full slate of evening programming events and activities in advance of the match. The players will be fully integrated into MLS All-Star Week festivities, which include team training, the All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G on July 18 and the MLS All-Star Game on July 19. Each MLS NEXT All-Star team will also conduct their own training sessions leading up to their match on Wednesday morning.
“The MLS NEXT All-Star Game has proven to be the premier showcase for the top youth soccer players in North America,” said MLS NEXT general manager Justin Bokmeyer. “Each of these talented athletes have earned this opportunity through their tremendous performances this season and we are excited for them to experience a memorable week in Washington, D.C.”
Among the players who were selected to the inaugural game in 2022, 24 of those have gone on to sign professional contracts, including nine as Homegrown players. Notable standout players who have made an impact in MLS include New England’s Esmir Bajraktarevic and Jack Panayotou, along with Inter Miami CF’s Benjamin Cremaschi. Orlando City SC’s Favian Loyola, who was named the Player of the Game last year, has been a key performer in MLS NEXT Pro, scoring seven goals over the past two seasons.
“Our MLS NEXT All-Star Game is about giving players opportunity and we’re excited this year’s game will keep positively impacting the next generation players,” said Dan Keats, director of consumer marketing at Allstate. “Continuing this partnership means we can stay committed to our goal of preserving, protecting and growing the future of soccer in America.”
The 44 players were selected by MLS NEXT personnel following the conclusion of the 2023 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase. To be eligible for selection, players must have been born between 2005-2007, have competed in the MLS NEXT regular season, and played in at least one of the MLS NEXT premier events this season – MLS NEXT Fest, MLS NEXT Flex, Generation adidas Cup, or the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase.
MLS NEXT personnel also advised on the selection of the coaching staff for both East and West teams. The head coach of the East team will be D.C. United academy director Patrick Ouckama. Ouckama has been with D.C.’s academy since 2021 and has over a decade of coaching experience in MLS, college, and at the youth club level. Under Ouckama’s stewardship, D.C. United won the U-16 MLS NEXT Cup title in 2022. The assistant coach will be MLS Great and Atlanta United U-16 head coach Kevin Kratz, who led the Five Stripes to this season’s U-16 MLS NEXT Cup championship.
The West squad head coach will be former U.S. Men’s National Team defender and current St. Louis CITY SC U-15 head coach Anthony Wallace. As a coach, Wallace previously spent time with various teams in Washington including Hawks SC, Eastern Washington Surf SC, and Washington State University Women’s Soccer. Wallace had an 11-year professional career and saw MLS action for FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids, and the New York Red Bulls. Strikers FC head coach Willie Diaz will serve as assistant coach for the West squad, after leading the U-16 side to the final of MLS NEXT Cup in each of the last two seasons. Diaz has over a decade of collegiate and youth club coaching experience in his career.
Admission to the MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility is free of cost. Fans are highly encouraged to park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and ride the free shuttle bus to and from the game due to security restrictions. Pedestrians can enter through the Naval Academy Visitors Center where they must go through security and present a valid U.S. ID.
About MLS NEXT
MLS NEXT is a new paradigm for player development, launched in 2020 to transform youth soccer in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest level of competition, training and personal development opportunities that will prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life. Membership for the 2022-23 season includes 137 clubs, 628 teams and over 13,000 players across the U.S. and Canada. Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas, Allstate, and DoorDash. For more information about MLS NEXT, visit www.mlssoccer.com/mlsnext.