Analytics, first associated by many fans with baseball and basketball, has found its way across the sports spectrum. Today, it isn’t just Billy Beane and Peter Brand trying to squeeze every ounce from Scott Hatteberg and Jermaine Dye and Frank Menechino for the Moneyball Oakland Athletics. The soccer world is fully on board, with every player’s every move tracked, with the goal of maximizing efficiency, from the Premier League to U.S. colleges and everything in between.
Major League Soccer, looking to tap into the wave of millions of boys and girls playing the sport in the U.S. and Canada, formed MLS NEXT, its player development arm in 2020. Looking to optimize the program across a variety of areas, the league has partnered with sports technology and analytics company Kitman Labs, which helps sports organizations in the NFL, MLS and NCAA use data to gain valuable insight into player performance.
The new agreement with Kitman Labs will allow MLS NEXT to analyze data like where and how players are playing, how they are progressing through the League and how different teams are performing and who is coaching them to drive improvement in all those areas.
“Kitman Labs is a world-class technology company, and by teaming up with them we are excited for the opportunity to utilize next generation technology to power our entire MLS NEXT operation,” said Justin Bokmeyer, General Manager, MLS NEXT. “The player pathway within the MLS ecosystem is of the utmost importance to us, and there is no better place to introduce this combining of forces than within MLS NEXT. We look forward to working alongside Kitman Labs and sharing their game-changing capabilities and software tools with academy directors throughout the U.S.”
The partnership also includews Kitman Labs’ League Operations Solution, which will streamline many of MLS NEXT’s daily operations, ranging from tasks like player, staff and officials registration, match rosters and reporting, discipline management and tracking, waivers and consents and more.
“As leagues become increasingly more complex, the need to consolidate and streamline operations and logistics into a single platform, enabling collaboration, elevating the player and staff experience and providing the infrastructure to scale is paramount to future success,” said Stephen Smith, Kitman Labs Founder & CEO. “MLS Next is setting a new standard across the board while simultaneously enhancing and prioritizing player pathways to elevate the overall level of play throughout the League.”
This announcement arrives during a period of tremendous momentum behind the sport of soccer in North America, as MLS’ 28th season is underway, the highly anticipated 2023 Leagues Cup will take place from July 21 to August 19 and as the 2026 World Cup hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico approaches.