The Orlando City Academy continues to provide a pathway to higher levels of soccer, and moving up to the First Team isn’t the only way.

The Lions’ U15 and U17 sides both competed at the inaugural MLS NEXT Fest this past weekend, playing in front of representatives from over 200 NCAA institutions in one of the biggest college showcases of the year.

Included among the schools present were multiple local Division I programs, including UCF, the University of South Florida, Stetson University, Jacksonville University, and the University of North Florida. More than 300 of the top youth teams in the country were present at the event, which took place from December 3-6 in Norco, CA.

The Orlando City teams each played three matches against fellow MLS academies. The highlight for the defending national champion U17s was a hotly contested draw on the final day against FC Dallas, with Ethan Subachan scoring a brace for the Lions. The U15s faced off against Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia Union, and Austin FC, with Jackson Platts finding the back of the net in each of the latter two matches.

Both Academy teams will continue their seasons throughout the winter, leading up to the Generation Adidas Cup in April.