NEW YORK, N.Y. – Audi, along with Bleacher Report and Major League Soccer, today announced the return of the four-part, all-access documentary series, THE ACADEMY, with an all-new youth development academy of future stars in the spotlight – the San Jose Earthquakes Academy. The series provides in-depth, behind-the-scenes coverage of the next generation of soccer stars on and off the field as they compete to join the ranks of MLS professional athletes. The third season of THE ACADEMY, made possible by Audi, will debut exclusively on the Bleacher Report app and across B/R Football channels on Friday, June 24 at 9 a.m. PT.
THE ACADEMY provides an all-access look at the commitments and raw talent of young athletes as they follow their dreams to become professional soccer players. Highlighting the youth talent development system used by every MLS youth Academy in North America, the series gives fans a first-hand account of top players who join an MLS club, and with hard work and determination, rise through the ranks to play professionally in MLS and abroad. These unique stories demonstrate how Audi and MLS youth Academies are working to ensure this next generation of athletes is ready to compete at an elite level.
The documentary series will provide a detailed look at Quakes Academy training sessions and tactical meetings, as well as their involvement in the 2022 Generation adidas Cup, where they faced powerhouses Manchester United and River Plate. The series will also cover some first team matches and Quakes II games and will provide a behind-the-scenes look at player storylines and their personal battles.
Prominent San Jose Earthquakes personalities are featured in the series, including general manager Chris Leitch, interim head coach Alex Covelo, Major League Soccer’s all-time leading goal-scorer and interim assistant coach Chris Wondolowski, and Homegrown forward and United States Men’s National Team player Cade Cowell, along with Quakes Academy players and team staff.
“The San Jose Earthquakes Academy is the foundation of our club and an essential part of a player’s pathway to the professional stage. With Audi’s support, we feel we can strengthen our efforts in that process for players at every level,” said Earthquakes general manager Chris Leitch. “We look forward to guiding our Academy players towards success both on and off the field as we continue to enhance and improve our development pathway.”
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 audience for THE ACADEMY continues to grow with Season 2 registering more than 15.7 million views across five episodes.
In addition to THE ACADEMY, Audi also funds the Audi Goals Drive Progress program to 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 thrilled to see the debut of Season 3 of THE ACADEMY, showcasing the impact of our over $3 million commitment to MLS Academy programs through the ‘Audi Goals Drive Progress’ initiative,” said Adam Perez, strategic partnerships specialist, Audi of America. “We are dedicated to supporting young players as they strive for excellence on the pitch and in the classroom, while also advancing the growth of soccer in the U.S.”
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. 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. The Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative will contribute up to $1 million in total funding this season.
Since 2019, Audi has committed more than $3 million dollars to MLS Academies across North America to create a better future through soccer, and the impact of this funding has been immediate – since March 2020, 29 MLS Academy players who benefitted from the program have been signed to First team, Homegrown pro contracts. In addition, more than 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.
B/R Football is the most engaged soccer brand on social in the U.S. reaching more than 33 million cross-platform followers. The brand had its best single month ever in May 2022 generating 182 million engagements.
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.