The National Premier Soccer League has cancelled its 2020 season over concerns of COVID-19, the fast-spreading world-wide disease.
Included in the NPSL is Rochester’s fourth-year amateur team, Med City FC.
Med City FC General Manager Frank Spaeth considered it the right decision.
"It is understandable given the current climate and uncertainty that we are in that they cancel it," Spaeth said. "This (COVID-19) isn't something that's going to go away in two or three weeks. It's not just going to magically disappear by then. Making sure we are putting the health of our players, fans and staff first is the right idea."
It's not an easy time for Spaeth to take a break. Not only has he put in countless hours preparing for the season, including recruiting players who annually come from around the globe, but Med City FC had built momentum.
The Mayhem were coming off their best season yet. They finished 8-1-3 last year and for the first time reached the NPSL playoffs.
In recognition of that strong campaign, the Mayhem had been invited to participate in the prestigious Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. But their opening game of that massive tournament, which had been scheduled for March 25, was put on hold due to COVID-19 worries. As of last week, Spaeth wasn’t sure whether that game would be made up.
Med City FC was set to open its NPSL season on May 2. The league had already made adjustments in recent weeks, having delayed its normally early starting West Coast schedule to April 4. That was also in response to COVID-19. Now, the entire season is gone for NPSL teams.
Spaeth said that conference calls have happened between a number of teams in the NPSL the last two weeks, discussing how to proceed with the season. Having taken part in those, he had a strong hunch that things were going to get canceled.
On Thursday, that cancellation became official. Spaeth was willing to see the big picture.
"If we do our part in a small way here, we want to do that," Spaeth said. "I love soccer, but it's not worth dying for."
There still is a chance that Med City FC will have a bit of a season. But it would likely be one where just a handful of teams participated, with mini-tournaments. Spaeth said that he has already been reached out to about that.
What Spaeth says he will put most of his concentration into now, though, is the 2021 season. There is a silver lining in that.
"For the first time in our history, we'll have more than a year to prepare for a season," he said.
NO WORD ON UPSL, WPSL
There has been no word yet of Rochester’s two other amateur soccer teams, Rochester FC and women’s team Rochester United FC, having had their seasons cancelled due to COVID-19. Both are in their second year.
Rochester FC plays in the United Premier Soccer League, while Rochester United FC plays in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.