The Rochester Rhinos fulfilled recent speculation today, announcing that they would join the nine other ownership groups that are poised to begin play next spring in the North American Soccer League, which now claims 10 teams.
Last week, Carolina RailHawks majority owner Selby Wellman told Triangle Offense that he expected there would be at least 10 teams but refused to confirm speculation about Rochester's status.
Here's a link to the early thoughts of Jeff DiVeronica of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "Devo" is an excellent, insightful soccer reporter; he's also been consistent in his scorn for the breakaway league.
For those keeping score, the USL First Division is down to four teams, following today's announcement from Rochester and the decision of Cleveland and Charleston to take themselves down to the USL Second Division:
Press release after the jump.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 30, 2009
ROCHESTER RHINOS TO JOIN NEW NASL
(Rochester, NY)... The Rochester Rhinos today announced they have officially joined the North American Soccer League (NASL).
"We evaluated the situation very carefully and decided that the best decision for the future of the Rhinos and soccer in Rochester was for us to join the new NASL," said Rhinos CEO Rob Clark. "Soccer is maturing before our very eyes. We are joining a family of team owners who are committed to investing in our league and their teams to further the development of players and support the future growth of the sport in North America. The NASL is a new beginning for soccer in Rochester."
The addition of Rochester brings the NASL to ten teams, including the Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Crystal Palace Baltimore, Miami FC Blues, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, St. Louis United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Vancouver Whitecaps.
"I'm looking forward to working with my fellow owners in the coming weeks to hire a Commissioner, create a 2010 schedule and finalize league marketing initiatives," concluded Clark.
The NASL has applied for USSF Division II status and expects to start its first season as a Division II professional soccer league in April 2010.