A first-year franchise and one that includes a pack of just-graduated high school kids, and another that has yet to graduate.
It wouldn’t seem a recipe for success. Still, Rochester FC has made it work. It’s done it to the tune of a 7-1-1 (wins-ties-losses) record in the Midwest Conference West Division of the United Premier Soccer League. That mark trails only Vlora City FC (7-1-1), which is ahead of Rochester FC based on goals differential.
Veterans such as Midhat Mujic (team-leading eight goals and three assists) have made a major difference. But so have youngsters such as 2019 Rochester Mayo graduate Jibril Muse.
Muse has been a major contributor on a team that is coming off a 3-0 win Wednesday over FC Minneapolis.
“Jibril has had a really good season,” Mujic said. “He’s been consistent and played well. Jibril moves the ball and puts in a lot of effort and understands what his role is. He’s also been really physical for a smaller guy.”
Muse does put in the time. On a team that practices five days per week, with most games on Saturdays, Muse tries to get in a bit more than that. So he shows up an hour before each practice at Rochester Regional Stadium, refining his moves and foot skills.
“That extra work has definitely paid off,” Muse said.
Muse, who has hopes of landing at a Division I junior college for soccer in the fall, says playing in the UPSL has had a large benefit.
The game is much faster than what he was used to in high school, which has forced his hand.
“This league definitely helps me out,” Muse said. “Playing with older guys gives me a test for what it will be like playing at the next level (college). The biggest challenge has been playing the ball a lot faster. In high school, you’ve got time to do whatever you want. Here, you’ve got to get rid of it a lot faster.”
Other 2019 high school graduates getting major minutes for Rochester FC are Austin’s Kevin Ortiz (center midfield) and Mooday Wah (midfield), and Rochester Century grad Ameer Alrubayee (forward). Another youngster making a difference is Austin incoming-high school senior Dylan Haneghraff (left back).
MED CITY FC
The Rochester third-year soccer franchise can smell it. And if the Mayhem can manage a win tonight against Duluth FC, they’ll be closer to tasting it.
What Med City FC is so hungry for is a berth in the post-season. It just missed advancing its first two years.
But as the Mayhem head into today’s 7 p.m. match at Rochester Regional Stadium, they do so with five wins, three ties and no losses in the North Conference of the National Premier Soccer League. Med City FC is 7-3-0 overall.
Two teams will make the NPSL playoffs out of the North Conference. The Mayhem, Duluth FC (6-0-2) and Minneapolis City SC (6-1-1) are in a logjam at the top of the league.
“This is kind of a make-or-break game for us,” Med City FC coach Neil Cassidy said of the contest with Duluth FC, which it tied earlier this season in Duluth. “If we win, I’d say we have a great shot to get in (to the playoffs).”
The Mayhem, for one of the rare times this season, aren’t heading into this game with momentum. They’re coming off one of their most frustrating performances of the season in settling for a 2-2 tie on Wednesday with Sioux Falls FC.
“We hit a little speed bump in that game,” Cassidy said. “We just coudn’t put the ball in the back of the net. But we’ll be prepared for Saturday.”
Cassidy has been pleased with the cohesion of this Mayhem team. He considers that togetherness to be one of the main reasons this has been such a winning team this season.
ROCHESTER UNITED FC
Another first-year franchise in Rochester isn’t having the same success in the win-loss column, but it has shown some recent momentum.
Rochester United FC — the city’s first amateur women’s soccer franchise — is 1-1-2. It is coming off a 2-1 win on Wednesday over Fire SC 98.
Rochester United FC plays in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, with its home games at Rochester Mayo.
“I am very pleased with our play, though I know we can still do a lot more,” said team owner Matthew Fatehi, whose club played league-leading
Salvo SC on Friday night. “Our last game, our defense was good, our keeper was fantastic and we scored twice. We played an efficient and beautiful game.”
Rochester United FC has five games left on its schedule.