By Michael Lewis
If a Rochester group has its way, that Northwestern New York city will have a professional outdoor franchise soon.
Rochester Pro Soccer Club LLC. has applied to join the National Independent Soccer Association, it was announced Thursday.
FrontRowSoccer.com broke the story Wednesday night. Here is a link to the story:
The Rochester ownership group is led by David Weaver, CEO and founder of Aphex BioCleanse Systems Inc., which is headquartered in that city and with manufacturing facilities in Port Richey, Fla. According to the company’s website, Aphex “has built a strong foundation based on the world’s first proprietary non-alcohol, non-toxic, and hydrogen-based cleaning technology.”
It was not immediately known whether the group had applied to compete in the NISA 2021 spring or fall season.
“As a 30-year New York State Emeritus soccer referee and former youth soccer administrator, I am extremely excited to return professional soccer to Rochester,” Weaver said in a statement. “Our club plans to be inclusive within the local vibrant soccer landscape, as well as supportive of our community as a whole.”
If accepted, the NISA team will be the first professional outdoor team in Rochester since the Rochester Rhinos went dormant after the 2017 USL Championship season. The Rochester Lancers have men’s and women’s teams in the outdoor National Premier Soccer League, an amateur circuit.
NISA, the third division in U.S. Soccer’s pecking order of professional leagues, is an independent league in which teams can determine their personality in the community. The league, which recently added Maryland Bobcats FC and a team in Chicago, also includes 2020 champion Detroit City FC and the Cosmos.
Mark Washo, a Rochester, N.Y. native who most recently worked for the Rhinos, has been picked to be the managing director and Chief Commercial Officer.
Washo brings extensive experience in professional soccer. He also has worked with D.C. United in its inaugural 1996 Major League Soccer season, and has held senior front office positions with the NY/NJ MetroStars (now the Red Bulls) and Chicago Fire (both MLS) and the Washington Freedom and Washington Spirit in women’s pro soccer.
“As a Rochester native, it is a great privilege to be part of continuing a professional soccer legacy,” Washo said in a statement. “We have a great opportunity to re-engage the community and honor the history of soccer in Rochester, while also establishing a ‘next generation’ soccer culture consistent with the soccer movement across the USA.”
According to a press release, the ownership group also will have a partnership with St. John Fisher College’s Sport Management Department. The department, led by Dr. Todd Harrison, an associate professor and chair, will provide faculty expertise and other support to the club.
“We are always looking for outlets to engage our students with experiential opportunities and provide real-life connections that enrich our courses by expanding our faculty knowledge,” Dr. Harrison said in a statement. “Rochester has proven it will passionately support its clubs and soccer’s expansion in the country’s sport landscape made this partnership very attractive.”
While the NISA board needs to vote on Rochester’s application, it was met with positive vibes by at least one league official.
“There is such a great soccer heritage in Rochester that this club will be an exciting addition to our league,” executive vice president of expansion Josh Prutch said in a statement. “We are on a mission to bring quality, independent soccer to cities across the U.S. The Rochester group’s community-centric approach aligns with and fortifies that mission.”
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