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Soccer: Second amateur franchise lands in Rochester

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Midhat Mujic, left, and Muharem Dedic are bringing the Rochester Football Club to town this summer. The Rochester FC will play in the United Premier Soccer League and feature many local players. It will also offer a pair of youth academy teams.
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The men’s amateur soccer scene is about to double in Rochester.

Med City Football Club, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League, had its debut season in Rochester the summer of 2017.

Now, here comes another one. Kicking off this summer will be the Rochester Football Club. Like Med City FC, Rochester FC will play its home games at Rochester Regional Stadium. But instead of doing it as a member of the NPSL, this new franchise has joined the United Premier Soccer League.

Though arguably a fraction below the NPSL in terms of competitiveness, the UPSL comes complete with boys youth academy teams. Rochester FC will have two of those, with an under-16 team and an under-14 team.

All of it will be under the direction of Rochester FC co-owners Midhat Mujic and Muharem Dedic.

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The Bosnian immigrants (Dedic coming to Rochester in 1999, Mujic in 2001) have one primary focus in having added a second men’s amateur soccer club to the Rochester landscape. It is to promote and develop local talent.

Med City FC has local players as well. It began last season with eight of them on its roster, though a few left the team early due to a lack of playing time. Rochester FC’s intention is to be even more local-centric.

"There is a team in town (Med City FC), but for us it is not a Rochester team," said Mujic, who played for Med City FC start to finish in both its seasons. "Our goal is to bring exposure to our (Rochester-area) kids. We have a bunch of good local players here and we want to expose them to college teams and a lot of pro teams."

LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL

Dedic believes that in trying to build a team of mostly local talent, that they will be providing the Rochester community with what it wants.

"(Med City FC) was built (mostly) from outside players," Dedic said. "Our team is based on southeastern Minnesota talent. It’s a locally based team. We want to bring the public out to see the local talent."

Med City FC owner Frank Spaeth acknowledges that Rochester FC’s mission is different than his franchise’s. While Spaeth also likes to incorporate local talent (Byron native Nate Levy has been his starting goalie the last two years, and Rochester Lourdes graduates Alan Schembri-Wismayer and Tiernan Talbot have played significant roles on the team, as did Mujic), his main objective is giving soccer fans the most competitive product possible.

Spaeth believes he’s created the right mix of local, national and international players on his teams.

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"I have tried to approach it as finding that balance," said Spaeth, who questions whether Rochester can support two amateur soccer franchises. "We do have some really good players from in town, and we’ve also had really good players from all over the world. I believe that’s created a cool mix and a unique product. But I feel like I’ve given our local players a chance and have certainly had some who have played vital roles for us."

Mujic and Dedic say they have already gotten commitments from two of Rochester’s best high school players, Century’s Ameer AlRubayee and Mayo’s Jibril Muse. Both are seniors. The 27-year-old Mujic also intends to play for the team.

ALL-INCLUSIVE GOAL

Another focus of the Rochester FC owners is to make sure that underprivileged players from Rochester are represented on their teams, both with their main 17-over club and their youth academy teams. Dedic says that particularly applies to the Somali community, which he says is overflowing with soccer talent and enthusiasm for the sport, but too often can’t financially afford to play on traveling teams.

"Our goal is to bring lots of diversity to our team," Dedic said. "We want kids from Africa, South America and (elsewhere). There are 100s of kids playing soccer in Rochester, and I’ve played with many of them."

Tryouts, beginning in December, will be conducted for the 17-over UPSL team, as well as the youth academy teams. Mujic and Dedic intend to run their youth academies year round, with Rochester’s Abdul Noor directing them.

The academy teams will play against other UPSL-affiliated academy teams.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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