Before the AIA Executive Board voted to cancel winter sports because of the surging COVID-19 numbers, high school soccer teams were getting hit.
"Before the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board voted Friday to cancel the winter sports seasons, many boys soccer teams were already trying to reconfigure their teams.
It wasn't the pandemic that caused them to lose players and figure who would be next to pick up the slack.
It was the new Major League Soccer Next platform, a year-round developmental academy for aspiring future pro players that was taking players.
Now, in light of Friday's news, those players recruited by the MLS Next platform gives them an outlet that their high school soccer teams may not have now.
Chandler Hamilton boys soccer coach Nick Barker, who came over from Scottsdale Coronado this year, said about 15-20 players were lost to the MLS Next platform.
"Unfortunately, the club directors aren’t seeing the value of high school soccer," he said before the season was canceled by the AIA. "Many players feel a pressure to stay with their club during the high school season, even if they're not playing official matches.
"Players and parents are put in a difficult position as they try to navigate through their opportunities. At Hamilton, we’ll coach the boys who desire to be part of our program. We also respect and support the players on campus who pursue other opportunities."
Mesa boys soccer coach T.J. Hagen was looking forward to what he felt was a special team.
He said he was disappointed that his players couldn't do both the MLS Next and high school and had to choose which one to go with.