By Michael Lewis
The Major Arena Soccer League on Tuesday unveiled its January schedule for six teams that will begin playing next month.
The Rochester Lancers weren’t one of them and it could be some time before the team plays a home game because every state has different restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the Lancers do play in January or February, it will be on the road. At the present time, they are in the Eastern Division with Utica City FC, Harrisburg Heat and Baltimore Blast and that will happen if travel is allowed.
New York state has strict rules about COVID-19, probably more severe than most states.
“Unfortunately, New York State has different restrictions than other states,” Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo said. “I don’t foresee the Lancers playing at home or in New York State prior till March.
“If [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo continues with quarantines and double testing into March this could be a problem for travel.”
MASL teams that have playoff aspirations must play a minimum of 12 games and can play as many as 24 matches by April 18.
Fantauzzo said that is top concern was “is the safety of our players, dancers, fans and staff.”
“COVID-19 is for real and we will start our season when it’s safe to play.”
The Lancers called the Dome Arena in Henrietta, N.Y. home the last two seasons, but are considering using a smaller indoor facility if the team can’t have fans at games.
Fantauzzo said that Lancers’ season ticket holders would be given “priority if limited seating was mandated, home or away.”
All MASL games will be streamed via pay per view online this season, but the Lancers said that they will pay those costs for their season ticket holders and the players’ families.
“This will be a difficult season for everyone involved,” Fantauzzo said. “Most of our title sponsors have experienced some challenging times since March and we plan to show our appreciation for their past Lancers support.”
Fantauzzo, the owner of Salvatore’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria has been known for his charitable contributions through his soccer team and that organization.
“This Friday my staff and I are working with Santa and his helicopter,” he said. “We are donating hundreds of pizza certificates to the front-line COVID-19 workers that are working so hard at our local hospitals here in Rochester.
“I hope and pray this vaccine helps get our country back on track.”
The St. Louis Ambush, Kansas City Comets, Dallas Sidekicks, San Diego Sockers, Tacoma Stars and Florida Tropics have committed to dates in January.
The MASL was forced to curtail its 2019-20 season in March due to the pandemic. It did not crown a champion for the first time.
The league usually begins in November or December, but the pandemic forced it to delay opening up for the 2021 season.