MLS has linked with ai.io in a partnership that helps provide all footballers an opportunity to be scouted by MLS without having to travel.
The London-based technology company has outlined that the new program leverages the latest in computer vision and AI to enable any player to use its product, aiScout, to easily participate in a virtual trial program.
Fred Lipka, Technical Director of MLS NEXT, said: “At MLS, we believe this partnership is going to be a real solution for some of the most important issues faced in soccer across North America namely, cost, geography, and accessibility.
“It is critical that we provide all players with an opportunity to access MLS NEXT and MLS NEXT Pro programming, and ai.io has built a fantastic technology platform that enables us to eliminate these traditional barriers and increase opportunities for players at no cost to the player.”
Players will be able to download the app for free and complete a series of assessments and drills in any backyard, field, or open space via their mobile phone.
The app will then analyse players’ ability and through a fully connected platform, MLS will be able to evaluate players via data generated. Players who score highly will be offered a chance to train with MLS at events around the US and Canada.
“By encouraging aspirational players and fans to download our aiScout app and film themselves replicating club standard drills on their mobile devices, players have had success, and in some cases are now playing for clubs in the English Premier League,” added Darren Peries, CEO of ai.io.
“We are thrilled about this partnership with Major League Soccer, and greatly look forward to soon providing players around the world with an opportunity to be seen, analysed, evaluated and developed by MLS clubs.”
The deal is part of MLS’ Emerging Ventures program, which continues the League’s significant investment in MLS NEXT to better serve the sport and network of MLS NEXT member clubs.
“By increasing opportunities and minimising costs, more players will have the ability to reach their full potential by participating in the highest quality soccer training programs in the US and Canada,” the partners asserted.
In October last year, Chelsea FC also partnered with aiScout which then became the team’s official academy research partner.
Prior to this, the group had been working with the Chelsea FC Academy for two years during the platform’s Research & Development stage.