Rochester Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo has passed the ball to Flower City Union, a men’s professional soccer club that will begin play next spring.

Bringing together the Rochester soccer community while providing clear player pathways from the youth ranks to the first team, the outdoor men’s and women’s Lancers teams will operate within the Flower City Union organization upon completion of their summer 2021 seasons.

“After meeting with the Flower City Union group, I realized that their team had the ability to make outdoor soccer great again in Rochester, NY,” Fantauzzo said in a statement. “Our outdoor Lancers had filled the soccer void with the WNY Flash and the Rhinos leaving Rochester. After 41 years of promoting and supporting soccer in my great city, it is time for me to enjoy outdoor games as a fan again.”

Flower City majority owner-president Dave Weaver, whose team will compete in the National Independent Soccer Association in 2022, praised Fantauzzo’s four-decades long dedication to the game.

“SoccerSam has been the most influential voice in Rochester soccer over the last 40 years and has introduced the game to Rochesterians of all ages,” he said. “His energy and commitment to growing soccer and his love of the city are perfectly in line with our club’s mission and we couldn’t be more excited to come together with him to build a true soccer pyramid for Rochester.”

The National Premier Soccer League men’s team will act as a developmental squad and will slide in between Flower City Union’s first team and the youth development happening within the organizations that are part of the Union’s Homegrown Partner Program. The United Women’s Soccer team will continue as the top of the pyramid squad in Rochester and will be supported by the same Homegrown Partner Program.

Flower City Union does not have plans for an academy but created the Homegrown Partner Program as a consortium of youth soccer clubs in the Rochester area, working with each of the clubs to help support the development of their athletes and enhance the game in our city.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to work with the tremendous youth soccer organizations in the area when so many other organizations have been exclusive,” Flower City managing director and CCO Mark Washo said in a statement. “We believe in open soccer and the opportunities that reduced barriers present to expanding the game and this relationship with Sam and the Lancers will help to expand that access.”

Long-time Lancers men’s head coach Doug Miller will continue to operate the Lancers youth program as the Lancers will return to the Dome Arena and the Major Arena Soccer League for the 2021-22 professional indoor soccer season. This agreement opens the door for the Lancers and Flower City Union to share front office resources as well as opportunities for players to try out for the outdoor teams and indoor Lancers.

“Flower City Union have a stadium and league to play in,” Fantauzzo said. “Their office staff has been working hard for several months with their ownership group to focus on every detail to kick start their success. I look forward to helping them in any capacity if needed.”

The UWS and NPSL Lancers final home games of the 2021 outdoor season are this Sunday. The Lady Lancers kic koff at 2 p.m. and the men at 5 p.m. at Aquinas Institute.