NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 26) – In their continued collaborative efforts to elevate the game of soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Audi and Major League Soccer today revealed the substantial financial commitments made by the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative since its inception in 2019 and announced the distribution plans for funds from the program during the 2022 season. Audi and MLS also unveiled details on the return of the documentary series produced with Bleacher Report, THE ACADEMY, which will focus this season on players developing in the San Jose Earthquakes’ youth academy.
Originally launched in 2019, the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative provides funding to further enhance the experience of young players on and off the field at MLS academies, which play an essential role in developing talented players in the U.S. and Canada. Since the program kicked off in August of 2019 at the All-Star Game, Audi has contributed more than $3 million to directly support MLS club academies.
The impact of this funding has been extraordinary. In just the last two years, 29 MLS Academy players who benefitted from the program have been signed to First team, and Homegrown pro contracts. In addition,130 players have benefitted from increased housing options near MLS Academies, and more than 1,600 players are utilizing expanded education resources including tutoring and improved education infrastructure known as Audi Performance Centers.
This season, the winner of the Audi Golden Boot – awarded to the player who leads MLS in goals – will earn a $25,000 contribution from Audi to his MLS team’s academy. Audi Goals Drive Progress will contribute $500 for every goal scored during the 2022 MLS regular season, $2,000 for every goal scored during the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, $5,000 for every goal scored in the MLS All-Star Game, and $10,000 for every goal scored in MLS Cup. The Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative will contribute up to $1 million in total funding this season.
“Audi continues to be a progressive and committed partner of Major League Soccer in the advancement of our sport in the U.S. and Canada,” said Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President, Competition and Player Relations. “By the end of the 2022 MLS season, Audi’s Goals Drive Progress initiative will have funded a total of $4 million to support MLS academies. The impact Audi has made on the lives and playing careers of young soccer players is immeasurable.”
The Audi Goals Drive Progress program funds help make MLS Academies more accessible and inclusive to youth players of all backgrounds from anywhere in North America. This program’s goal is to help remove barriers that would otherwise impede reach and success, such as limited access to transportation and housing in MLS markets. These funds also support players’ educations to ensure their success off the field.
“Audi is proud to have helped fund more than $3 million to MLS Academy programs through the ‘Audi Goals Drive Progress’ initiative,” said Adam Perez, experiential marketing specialist, Audi of America. “We are thrilled that we’ve been able to help ensure young players have the support they need to maintain excellence on the pitch and in the classroom, while also advancing the growth of soccer in the U.S.”
Audi, along with Bleacher Report and MLS, also announced the launch of Season 3 of THE ACADEMY – a four-part documentary series focused this season on the future stars developing in the academy of the San Jose Earthquakes. THE ACADEMY provides viewers with an all-access look as young athletes follow their dreams to become professionals, highlights the development system utilized in every MLS academy, and illustrates the impact of the Audi Goals Drive Progress program. In the first two seasons, which highlighted the academies of Sporting Kansas City (2020) and the New York Red Bulls (2021), THE ACADEMY captured the rise of prospects to their club’s first teams, including Ozzie Cisneros and Serge Ngoma.
The third season of THE ACADEMY, made possible by Audi, will debut on the Bleacher Report app and across B/R social channels during summer 2022.
For more information on THE ACADEMY, visit BleacherReport and MLSsoccer.com. Join the conversation and excitement surrounding each episode by following @MLS, @SJEarthquakes, @Audi and @BleacherReport on social media and using the hashtag #GoalsDriveProgress.
ABOUT AUDI OF AMERICA
At Audi of America, we believe the Future is Electric. By 2025, our U.S. model lineup will be 30 percent electrified, including fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Globally, we are committed to net CO2 neutrality by 2050. In 2021, Audi sold 196,038 vehicles in the U.S. and more fully electric models than ever before, with electric vehicle deliveries up by more than 50% over 2020. Learn more about who we are and how we’re working to create a more sustainable, innovative, and inclusive future at audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com.
ABOUT THE SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes are one of 28 teams currently competing in Major League Soccer. The club won MLS Cup championships in 2001 and 2003, as well as Supporters' Shield trophies for the league’s best regular season record in 2005 and 2012. The club opened its home stadium, PayPal Park, in 2015, which has a capacity of 18,000 fans and is among the most technologically advanced in MLS. The organization was originally founded in 1974 and was one of 10 charter members of MLS when the league began in 1996. The team’s non-profit arm, the Quakes Foundation, launched Pledge 74 in 2020 to combat food insecurity in the Bay Area. For more information about the Earthquakes, visit www.sjearthquakes.com.
ABOUT BLEACHER REPORT
Bleacher Report is a leading sports media brand reaching more than 150 million hyper-connected young sports fans each month through distribution of premium content. It is the #1 sports brand driving engagement and video views across all social platforms and the Bleacher Report app, while fueling offline engagement through unparalleled experiences that blend sports with culture. Bleacher Report has a portfolio of brands that includes House of Highlights, B/R Football, B/R Kicks, B/R Gridiron, B/R Walk-Off, B/R Open Ice and B/R Betting, delivering customized content that caters to the unique passions of its fans across its owned and operated channels and world-leading social platforms. Bleacher Report is a division of Turner Sports, which provides it access to premium live content from the NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Find Bleacher Report on the industry-leading Bleacher Report app, www.bleacherreport.com and on Instagram @BleacherReport.
ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer features 28 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, in addition to an expansion team in St. Louis beginning play in 2023. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.