Three Ballistic MLS NEXT teams off to Maryland for Flex playoffs, seeking National berths!

It is an old saying for coaches, but one that is true and has stood the test of time.

“Put in the work and good things will happen.”

Simple, yet so true. Three Ballistic United Soccer Club MLS NEXT teams are seeing their efforts come to fruition this week as the teams will travel across the country for the MLS NEXT Maryland Flex playoffs.

The Ballistic Under-16, Under-17, and Under-19 teams earned their shot to play for spots in the MLS NEXT Cup later this summer in Texas.

“We are extremely proud of our Ballistic United MLS NEXT teams for qualifying for the MLS NEXT Maryland Flex playoffs,” said BUSC MLS NEXT Director of Coaching Jerry Losson. “Their efforts over the course of the season have paid off and they now have set themselves up for the opportunity to compete for a regional event with the hopes of qualifying for the MLS NEXT Cup.”

Following is a look at each of the teams, complete with their schedule of games.


The U-16 team has the luxury of playing in the tournament with a berth in the MLS NEXT Cup already assured due to their second-place, regular season Pacific Northwest MLS NEXT league.

The top two finish was culminated by an 11-game winning streak, including a win over the De Anza Force, who at the time was the No. 1 team in the country.

There is still plenty at stake this week.

“The MLS NEXT Flex in Maryland is a great opportunity for them to increase their ranking in order to get a higher seed in Frisco, Texas,” explained Losson.

The team will open play May 13 with a 10 a.m. match with Shattucks (Minnesota), followed by the next day with a 9 a.m. game against the Barca Residency Academy (Arizona).

The final match of the tournament will see an 8:30 a.m. game with Southern Soccer Academy out of Atlanta.


The U-17 squad advanced to Maryland with a spectacular, 2-1 win over Sac Republic in the MLS NEX Play-in tournament back in early April.

The win knocked out Sac Republic – a traditional power in the sport – from further playoff action and moved Ballistic on.

“This group has shown tremendous character in their camaraderie, spirit, grit and competitive instinct towards their endeavor of reaching the MLS NEXT Flex playoffs,” said coach Eric Denton. “The players kept their emotional highs-low and their lows-high and managed to keep playing in the moment, doing what was required to keep a narrow focus and their individual and collective skill as a team is what has led them to the opportunity to compete in such a prestigious event.”

The U-17 division is the toughest as every MLS club has an Academy entered in the tournament. But as Ballistic showed in the play-in event, they can play with anyone as evidenced by their draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy team.

“The U-17 age group is the most competitive age group in MLS NEXT, with the quality of competition amongst MLS NEXT clubs, such as BUSC, and bolstered by the professional MLS academies which are also in our U-17 competition.

Ballistic will open play this Saturday, May 14 in a match with the Tampa Bay Rowdies at 9.m. The second match falls on May 15 at 3 p.m. when Ballistic will face the New England Revolution.

The final match of the event for Ballistic will be May 17 against FC Cincinnati at 1 p.m. All times are EDT.

“This Ballistic United group is one of only two MLS NEXT teams in the entire age group in all of NorCal to qualify to compete in the Maryland Flex,” said Denton. “I’m very proud of this tremendous group of young men and find inspiration in them all.”


Under the guidance of coach Craig Scheer, the U-19 squad has got a solid list of priorities heading into the tournament.

“First and foremost – to win the group and earn a spot in the Cup,” said Scheer as to the goals for the event. “In these modern times with apps and such, we have had a chance to see all of the teams we are playing.”

Echoing the sentiments of the other teams it’s more than just wins the team is looking for this week.

“We want to get points out of every match,” said Scheer. “But it is also about the kids getting the chance to play in front of (college coaches) that haven’t had a chance to before.”

And that experience is what the Ballistic staff has been preaching.

“You have to use every moment to the fullest,” Scheer said of what he has passed on to the players. “You never know when someone is watching. It might take only 20 minutes in a game for a coach to see something he likes.”

The team opens play May 13 with a 12:30 p.m. game with the Indiana Fire Academy, followed by a match with Orlando City S.C. at 1 p.m. to the following day.

Following a day off, the U-19’s close with a 1 p.m. game on May 16 against Real Colorado, but the game may be moved to earlier time to allow for the team to easily make their flight home.

How the tournament plays out remains to be seen, but Scheer feels his squad is ready.

“We started out and have competed in every match,” said Scheer. “We’ve had starters out with injuries, but we always fought through it. Once we qualified, we have used every match as a prep for this.”

At the end of the day while success is always the goal, there is more to this event – the experience and exposure for the players.

“Not only is this an opportunity for them to compete with teams from across this soccer crazy country, outside their Pacific Northwest conference,” said Losson. “But it’s also a great opportunity for us to have them play in front of college coaches that normally would not get to watch them battle and compete.”

Dennis Miller