Med City FC hopes talent, cohesion lead to playoffs
Frank Spaeth has one overriding goal when it comes to his third-year Med City FC franchise. It’s to bring to Rochester the most quality soccer team he can possibly assemble.
To that end, the Mayhem’s owner and general manager is delighted with what he believes will be his best product yet.
It’ll be on display for the first time this season tonight, with Med City FC taking on Granite City FC (St. Cloud) at 7 p.m. in a season-opening non-conference game at Rochester Regional Stadium.
“I’m really excited,” Spaeth said. “I think this will be our best season yet. We’ve got some exciting new players coming in and a great core of guys coming back.”
Not nearly all of either of those groups will be on hand for this opener, as many of the Med City FC players are finishing up college work.
A much truer picture will present itself next week when the bulk of what figures to be about a 26-player roster will have arrived. And by the time the Mayhem play their next home game, May 23 against Aris FC, this Med City FC edition should be all but complete.
Spaeth is confident the team’s new talent, combined with plenty of familiar faces, will be enough to get it to the destination he longs for — the National Premier Soccer League playoffs.
Med City FC, which finished 6-4-4 last year, just missed qualifying for the post-season each of the last two seasons. A tough start to last year particularly held the Mayhem back.
“Our first year, we started strong then struggled some in our last few games,” Spaeth said. “Last year we had a slow start and then had to play catch-up the rest of the season.”
Second-year Med City FC coach Neil Cassidy believes that missing last season’s playoffs could serve as an inspiration to this year’s team.
“Not making the playoffs left a sour taste in our mouths,” Cassidy said. “But I think that will help propel us now.”
What Cassidy and Spaeth believe will help the Mayhem as much as anything is the talent infusion that’s coming. That includes a couple of highly regarded midfielders from England, Tristan Jumeau and Jack Hilton-Jones.
Both were freshmen this past school year at Division I Georgia State, which qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
“Those two come with great experience and pedigree,” Spaeth said. “They are a couple of guys I’m really excited about.”
Spaeth has also brought in a pair of talented South American players, forwards Marcos Fernandez and Estiven Garcia. They played for NAIA Lyon College this past year, with Garcia earning first-team all-conference honors.
Among the returners to Med City FC is third-year Mayhem player and German-born Niklas Roessler. Roessler, who’ll play Division I soccer at the University of Albany next school year, last summer was named to the National Premier Soccer League Midwest Region XI team. Out of approximately 400 players, the Med City FC midfielder was one of just 11 to make it.
Med City FC will also continue to feature plenty of local talent, including former Rochester Lourdes stars Alan Schembri-Wismayer (midfield) and Tiernan Talbot (defender/midfield), as well as ex-Byron High School standout Nate Levy (goalie).
Other locals are forwards Ayo Adebayo (Rochester) and Christian Fernandez (Dover-Eyota), and midfielder Abel Gebrekiros (Austin).
Cassidy, who wants more offensive production this season, believes some of that improvement can be created off the field.
The Mayhem weren’t always as cohesive as he wished last year, leading to on-field breakdowns. He’s intent on changing that this season.
“I wished I’d have done a better job of getting the team bonded last year,” he said. “We are going to do whatever we can to get them more bonded this season. That will start with a cookout for the whole team at my house. The closer the team gets to each other the more they are all pointed in the right direction.”