Soccer Sam: Honestly, I underestimated how much the league improved. So many players and coaches improved so much since 2015. Legendary coach Keith Tozer was right; it takes 40 games for good outdoor players to adjust to this amazing game of indoor soccer. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)

Rochester Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo talks about and defends his team’s 0-16 record this Major Arena Soccer League season.

By Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo

Special to FrontRowSoccer.com

We aren’t a typical 0-16 team. These young Rochester Lancers rookies are united with each other. Our coaching staff understands that this will be a slow process. The bond I see between these players and our coaching staff is extremely special.

I didn’t watch MASL soccer after we left the league in 2015. After our success in the National Premier Soccer League, we joined M2 last year and we were invited to come back to the big leagues.

I looked around the league rosters I believed our M2 team could be competitive.

Honestly, I underestimated how much the league improved. So many players and coaches improved so much since 2015. Legendary coach Keith Tozer was right; it takes 40 games for good outdoor players to adjust to this amazing game of indoor soccer.

Friends and family constantly ask me how I’m handing this. It’s pretty simple: I went from having a Pop Warner team to owning an NFL team. That’s how I compare the MASL to other soccer leagues, except MLS. I’m the luckiest soccer guy in the world!

I admire how hard Doug Miller and his coaching staff work and how patient they have been with several players. Our three experienced indoor veterans (Jeremy Ortiz, Gary Boughton and Marcelo Moreira) have done everything possible to help our 23 MASL rookies learn this game.

Doug, with assistant coaches Adam Schwartz, John Berardicuri and Marc Soltile have devoted three nights a week the past several months to help these rookies adjust to indoor soccer. I’m proud of our improvement as we have dominated several quarters each game.

We’ve scored 51 goals, 41 of them have been scored by first-year rookies. It’s so great to see the excitement after their first MASL goal. Our two leading scorers are rookies — Anthony Rozzano and Michael Cunningham. We are doing something that has never been done and I’m happy our Rochester-based players can live that soccer dream.

Injuries hasn’t helped our development. Not only have our three indoor veterans missed games but losing Austin Gerber for the season killed us. Guys that I know could play at this level like Peter DiLorenzo, David Wright, Sean Hantes, Zikret Osmic, Andriy Demydiv and Brian Wilkin missed several games and we needed them to develop.

Our last game in Florida, my good friend Chris Economides, former general manager of the Rochester Rhinos, gave me a shoutout and mention several ex-Lancers that are now stars in this league. I’m predicting next season a handful of current Rochester-based Lancers could join others including Rozzano, Cunningham, Frankie Ciliberto, Matt D’Amico, Tim Crawford, Rafa Godoi, Alex Harling and Jeremy Loncoa.

Our fans and sponsors understand this process. We continue to sell out the Dome Arena, thanks to my dream team of Ashley Maria King and Kayla Kent-Moreira. We raised thousands of dollars for local charities and the party continues next Friday against Utica City and Saturday against the 10-time champions Baltimore Blast. Feel The Lancers Kick! ss