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Rochester Lancers facing hurdles in joining new league

The Rochester Lancers have not been released from the USL/MISL yet and can not join the new indoor league.

Rochester Lancers are trying to join the new indoor league
Rochester Lancers are trying to join the new indoor league
Thad Bell

While most of the former MISL teams are busy creating or joining a new indoor league, the Rochester Lancers are left in limbo for now. Salvatore "Soccer Sam" Fantauzzo, CEO/Founder of the Lancers is busy trying to resolve a couple issues.

"The Rochester Lancers have not been released from the USL," Soccer Sam explained. "We are working on a release from the USL, without that release we can't use our name or logo so we're working diligently to get that release."

"If I sign this non-slander, non-libel contract, they will release our name and the remainder of our bond," Soccer Sam continued. "Their lawyers are being very cooperative and my lawyer is still working with them on it. My release is a little different than the other guys obviously."

The Lancers, Missouri Comets, Baltimore Blast and Syracuse Silver Knights had operating agreements that expired after the 2013-14 season but the USL technically could hold the teams names, logos and bond to prevent them from joining a competing league.

The USL released the other teams and even the teams that had operating agreements in place still but not Rochester. The USL was not pleased when Soccer Sam responded to the USL statement dissolving the MISL in an article and on his radio show.

The other issue for Soccer Sam and his Lancers is their arena. Blue Cross Arena is in the process of being sold or taken over by the Sabres of the NHL. "SMG runs the building right now but they do not feel comfortable entering into any long term leases going into next year since they are being taken over," Sam said. "We are trying to work it out with the Sabres and with the city but the new league that is being worked on will not let anyone into the league without a concrete lease and I don't have a lease right now."

Soccer Sam says that they have received assurances  from everyone involved, SMG, the city and the Sabres and that they are going to do everything in their power to secure a lease for us.

"They all knew I needed it by last Friday so everything could happen this last Saturday in Kansas City but as of today (Monday) that has still not happened," Soccer Sam stated. "So we are playing the waiting game on a release and on the lease."

When asked if he considered bringing a team into the new league if he could not secure the release of the Lancers name Soccer Sam laughed and responded, "We had a game plan to go forward with the Rochester Bleeps. They would bleep out the name every time we almost said the Lancers and we would blur out the logo like they would when trying to keep someone's identity secret. "

Turning more serious, Soccer Sam explained, "honestly, I'm not going to go forward without the name and logo, we spent too much time and money building it. We were the hottest team in town, the most valuable team in town and outdrew everybody else. I don't want to go backwards here."

Still optimistic

"I think we are really close based on what my lawyer is telling me today," Soccer Sam said. "By Friday everything should be finalized, their lawyer is being very cooperative. They are just not happy about some of the things I said. I thought they were true, they thought it was slander so I will just have to choose my words more carefully in the future."

Soccer Sam is anxious to be part of the new league. "It will be the largest professional league in the history of American soccer," he reported. There will be 26-30 teams with a national footprint in some large markets and he sees the league having national sponsors  and even looks forward to advertising his own pizza sauces in stadiums across the country.

Soccer Sam may give up his radio character

One thing that Soccer Sam was not very upbeat about was his radio show. "I am not sure I can continue to do a radio show anymore. I work 12 to 13 hour days seven days a week and going on the radio is my fun and my release. I would hate to go on the show and walk on egg shells worrying about what I might say or one of my guests might say or a cohost might say."

"Right now it looks like I will hang up my mike and not do the radio show anymore.  It's not going to be fun anymore. If the USL does something dumb or the NASL or MLS does something that I think is bad for American soccer, I have always been opinionated but I like to do it in a fun way," Soccer Sam admitted.