Nelson Cupello (right) and Don Droege attended the celebration of  life for Jim Pollihan on Saturday. (Joy Rubenstein/

By Michael Lewis Editor

Flower City Union owner Jimmy Paola confirmed Monday night that the National Independent Soccer Association team has hired Nelson Cupello as an assistant coach.

The former Monroe Community College head coach and Rochester Lancers defender will assist head coach Jordan Sullivan, for whom he played at the school.

“Jordan and him are pretty tight,” Paola said on the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show. “They were bouncing that idea around. Nelson said that, ‘It should be kind of fun” to be back at the pro level. We’re excited that somebody of that pedigree, is on the coaching staff.”

Cupello will bring a lifetime of experience to Flower City.

Born in Brazil and raised in the United States, Cupello was a standout at MCC and Brockport State before he was chosen by the Lancers in the 1975 North American Soccer League draft.

He played with the team for five seasons before becoming a player-assistant coach with the Rochester Flash (American Soccer League) from 1981-82.

Cupello, 71, had entered the college coaching ranks, first as an assistant at MCC under Joe Mancarella, then the head coach at Fredonia State before returning to Rochester to direct the Tribunes from 1990 until his retirement in 2018.

During a successful tenure, Cupello guided MCC to a 367-38-38 mark. He led the team to 14 Region III titles and was named region coach of the year 17 times and the Northeast District coach of the year on three occasions. Named NSCAA coach of the year in 2012, Cupello distinguished himself in an MCC uniform, finding the net 54 times in two years. He was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2002.

The Union kicks off its NISA season at the Maryland Bobcats on April 1 at 1 p.m. Five days later, it will host a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup second round match at the Rochester Community Sports Complex in Rochester, N.Y.

Flower City will host the Bobcats at its league home opener on Saturday, May 13 at 6 p.m.