ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Carlos Metidieri can’t wait for Saturday, Oct. 7.
That’s when he will return to Rochester to help the Rochester Lancers professional soccer club celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team’s founding in 1967.
In fact, the man who is regarded as the greatest Lancer of them all is so excited that he has purchased two tables for the event at the Italian American Sport Club (IASC), the birthplace of the soccer club.
“That’s like a Christmas present,” he said of the reunion. “You look under the tree to get your big present. This is it. Escos, Odoi, Seissler, the coaches and a lot of fans, a lot of people. I can look around. I can see my kids. Oh God, 50 years ago, I was playing soccer here. It makes me feel so good.”
The only player in North American Soccer League history to win back-to-back MVP awards and scoring titles, the Gilbert, Ariz. native will have many memories to share with the fans. That includes being a member of the 1970 NASL championship team, the man who scored the game-winning goal in the 176-minute playoff marathon, the longest game in American soccer history and as a striker who recorded a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Lanerossi Vicenza (Italy).
“I have friends who got married in Rochester, had kids in Rochester, so that city is going to be in my heart forever,” Metidieri said.
Metidieri will be among many Lancer legends at a special dinner at the IASC, located at 1250 Buffalo Road in Rochester and the ceremonies kick off at 6 p.m. that evening.
Many players and personalities have worn the blue and gold through the years. They include Manfred Seissler, the Three Musketeers — Francisco Escos, Frank Odoi and Eli Durante — Charlie Mitchell, Roberto Lonardo, Dick Howard, Don Lalka, Pat Ercoli, Jack Brand, Nelson Cupello, Jim Pollihan, Don Droege, Craig Reynolds, Jim May, George Gibbs, Renato Cila, Edner Breton, Dave Thomson, Jim Lefkos, Fred Grgurev, George Lamptey, Bob DiLuca, Frank Carricchio, Tito Laurini, Mauro Felipe, Kenny Allison, Guy Bonfiglio, Ernie Alo, Frank Tata, Luis Fernando, among others.
The original Lancers made their debut in an international friendly against Concordia of Germany at old Aquinas Stadium on May 30, 1967 and played in the American Soccer League through the 1969 season. The team moved to the North American Soccer League in 1970, saving the league from extinction, and won the NASL title in their first season in the league. The Lancers became the first U.S. pro soccer team to compete in the CONCACAF Club Championship, finishing fourth in 1972. Rochester, then coached by Don Popovic, also reached the 1977 NASL playoff semifinals against the New York Cosmos and Pele filling up Holleder Stadium with a soccer record crowd of 20,005.
Many memories will be stirred and stories will be told. The public is invited to partake and meet their heroes of the past.
Tickets are $30 apiece or $200 for a table of 8. Tickets can be purchased starting Monday, September 18th at the IASC, Salvatore’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria Corporate Office at 680 Ridge Road in Webster or Top Notch Monogramming at Northfield Common (50 State Street) in Pittsford.
For more information, contact Contact Joe Sirianni at (585) 414-5122 – email@example.com or Andrew Battisti at 585-451-6701 – firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page for the event at www.facebook.com/lancers50