Rochester FC makes big purchase, consolidates men's soccer in Rochester

Jan. 20—ROCHESTER — Rochester amateur soccer rivals no more.

Rochester FC and Med City FC announced Saturday that they are joining forces, Rochester FC having purchased the National Premier Soccer League franchise from Frank Spaeth.

The consolidation of Med City FC into the Rochester FC operation means there will no longer be two men's amateur soccer franchises in Rochester. There will be one.

"It just felt like it was the right time to do this," said Rochester FC President Midhat Mujic, whose ownership group also fields an amateur women's team that played in the USL W last year and whose sixth-year men's club moved up a couple of divisions to the USL 2 a year ago.

"Our club has been growing very fast the last couple of years, so unifying (Rochester's two) men's clubs means we will no longer be competing for players, bringing resources into one club will benefit everyone," Mujic said. "The biggest thing is the impact it's going to have on the soccer community."

Mujic and Rochester FC Vice President Rafa Sierra made the move with an ultimate goal in mind. In the next few years, they'd like to establish Rochester FC as a professional franchise. As they see it, the only way to make that happen was for all of Rochester's highest-level soccer resources — including sponsorships, players, fans and coaches — be directed toward one club.

Thanks to Spaeth's willingness to give up his operation and Rochester FC being willing to buy him out, the path toward a potential pro team in a city of 125,000 is now a more reasonable one. And even if professional soccer never happens here, the consolidation figures to offer major benefits for Rochester FC.

Mujic has high hopes of bringing Spaeth and all of his franchise-running expertise to Rochester FC.

"We want Frank involved as much as he can be," Mujic said. "But we also don't want to over ask of him. We want to open the door as much as he wants to be involved. But the biggest thing is it smooths everything out. We want the soccer community focused on one area, where everyone is involved with the same (men's) team."

Spaeth had mixed feelings about letting go of a Med City FC soccer operation that was his creation and one he'd been operating for seven years.

It was hugely a winning one. The Med City Mayhem, which brought in amateur players from all around the world — many of them college players — never had a losing season. The Mayhem also won the NPSL North Conference twice, reached the NPSL regional three times and this past season won the inaugural Minnesota Super Cup.

But it was also a massively time-consuming operation for Spaeth and his family, with them involved day and night with making things work each summer.

"I had mixed feelings about letting it go," Spaeth said. "It's kind of like you had this kid, and now that kid is going away. But the reality is in the last couple of years, we had to keep asking ourselves if we were going to keep doing this or not. It was just getting harder and harder. But I feel really good about what we did (in those seven years). Now is a good time to do something to unify things. We've had enough of a rivalry between our two clubs. Now is a good time to bring everything together. If we really want soccer to continue to grow here and are serious about soccer being played at the highest level in Rochester, it makes sense to put all of our energy into one team."

Spaeth likes where Rochester FC is taking things.

"I think they've got a really nice vision for what they'd like to see their club become," Spaeth said. "It's exciting to hear what their plans are. I am excited to potentially help be a part of that."