May 26th, 2024

Former Toronto FC GM Ali Curtis earns promotion at Major League Soccer

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on May 9, 2024.

Ali Curtis speaks to the media during an end-of-season availability in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. Former Toronto FC general manager Ali Curtis has earned a promotion as Major League Soccer revamps the leadership of MLS Next, its academy and youth development program.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Former Toronto FC general manager Ali Curtis has earned a promotion as Major League Soccer revamps the leadership of MLS Next, its academy and youth development program.

Curtis left his post of Toronto GM and senior vice-president of soccer operations in November 2021. Some two weeks later he was named senior vice-president of competition and operations of MLS Next Pro, a developmental league that currently has 29 teams including Toronto FC 2 and Whitecaps FC 2.

On Thursday, MLS announced that Curtis was being elevated to the newly created role of the league’s senior vice president of sporting development. While continuing to manage the sporting side of MLS Next Pro, he has also been tasked with heading MLS’s on-field innovation and all areas of MLS Next.

MLS Next, which began in September 2020, now consists of 15,000 elite players across the United States and Canada, according to the league.

The program hosts four marquee youth events including the Generation Adidas Cup, which features MLS academies playing against the top international clubs. Membership for the 2023-24 season includes 29 MLS academies, 114 elite academies (143 total clubs), 677 teams and more than 15,000 players across the U.S. and Canada.

Luis Robles, former goalkeeper for the New York Red Bulls and Inter Miami, has been promoted to technical director of MLS Next. He will serve as lead for all MLS and MLS Next elite academy directors and technical staff.

Kyle Albrecht becomes Interim GM of MLS Next, succeeding Justin Bokmeyer who left to join the Brooklyn Nets.

Albrecht and Robles will report directly to Curtis with the search for a permanent general manager underway.

“Development, both on and off the field, is a passion of mine and now is the perfect time to step into this role,” Curtis said in a statement. “The sport is evolving, our MLS ecosystem continues to grow and the 2026 World Cup is around the corner.”

Curtis joined MLS Next Pro prior to its inaugural 2022 season to oversee the league’s competition, medical, security, operations and player relations departments. In his role, Curtis spearheaded several innovations including the off-field treatment rule and the timed substitution rule, which were both recently implemented in MLS.

Curtis served as Toronto GM from 2019 to 2021. Prior to that, he was sporting director for the New York Red Bulls and worked in the league office in the player relations and competition department

A three-time all-American at Duke, Curtis was drafted second overall in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft by the Tampa Bay Mutiny, Curtis also went on to play for D.C. United and FC Dallas.

Robles, a former U.S. international and MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2015, joined MLS Next in May 2023. Albrecht has spent the last five years with MLS after nine years with Under Armour.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024

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