Report: Minnesota United leaning toward Rochester for D2 affiliate team
Weeks ahead of its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, speculation is beginning to swirl about whether the Minnesota United FC will choose Rochester as the location for an affiliate team.
According to an article published Monday to the Minnesota soccer blog FiftyFive.One, the United are considering adding a reserve team in Rochester for the 2018 season. The team would reportedly play in the United Soccer League. The USL is one of two Division 2 leagues sanctioned by MLS.
"Originally Minnesota United had discussed Rochester, Minn. as a location for their USL reserve affiliate," the report says. "Then there was some focus on having a team in Wisconsin. A source told FiftyFive.One that talk had shifted once again to Rochester as a destination where the team would play games."
The website says the expansion team could potentially play its games on the campus of Rochester Community and Technical College. The stadium, which can hold up to 5,000 fans for outdoor events, was previously home to the Rochester Thunder of the Premier Development League from 2008-10.
A representative for the United declined to comment on whether it is considering Rochester for an affiliate team. He said the club plans to eventually add a USL team, but for now is focusing on its inaugural MLS season.
Locally, a spokesperson from the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau confirmed to Med City Beat that there were some "introductory conversations" about the possibility of adding a franchise. However, the RCVB says it has not "heard or helped with any work on this effort recently."
The United were awarded an MLS franchise in 2015 after six years in the second-tier North American Soccer League (same level as USL). The team will begin its first regular season in the MLS — America's top soccer league — in March. The United will play their home matches at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis while it works to finance and build a new 20,000-seat stadium in St. Paul.
Just for kicks
Another expansion franchise, this one in the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League, is set to begin play in Rochester this May.
The Med City FC describes itself as a "high-level adult amateur soccer team" that aims to "serve and entertain the community in and around Rochester." The club will compete in the NPSL's Midwest Region North Conference.
Frank Spaeth will serve as general manager. Spaeath was previously involved with the aforementioned Thunder franchise, as well the Minnesota Chill, a professional volleyball team that was based in Rochester.
"We’d like to get ourselves established in the community and create a good product that improves as the years go by,” Spaeth said in a news release.
He added, “We want to create a team consisting of the best players in southeast Minnesota, combined with players from around the country and the world, that will offer excitement to the Rochester community and give young players in our area strong role models.”
The club will announce tryout dates this week. Check Facebook for updates.
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(Cover graphic: Med City Beat)