ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Earlier this year, Rochester NY FC disbanded, which left Flower City Union as the only professional soccer team in Rochester. After a Cinderella story playoff run, Rochester’s lone pro soccer club is just one win away from taking home the National Independent Soccer Association championship.
“It’s surreal because of where we started,” said Flower City Union defender Mumbi Kwesele. “We came in with a new team and under really difficult circumstances to start from scratch. Honestly it didn’t look like we would make this kind of run at the beginning of the season.”
Flower City Union began the year with a 1-7 record and finished the regular season below .500. Despite the rough start, they earned the 6th and final playoff spot.
“We had a lot of guys coming from a lot of different backgrounds,” said Flower City Union defender Angelo Calfo. “We knew we had the talent. It was just the matter of meshing, and we really just turned it on for the playoffs.”
In the NISA quarterfinals, Flower City Union earned their first playoff win in club history after knocking off the Los Angeles Force 4-2. Last weekend, they reached even greater heights when they took down top-seeded Chattanooga FC.
It’s a remarkable run for Flower City Union, but they aren’t shocked that they’ve made it this far.
“I can understand from looking out to in it can be surprising,” said Jordan Sullivan, the Flower City Union head coach. “But for us seeing these guys train everyday and how they conduct themselves. Even when things weren’t going well, guys were true professionals. They came in and put their head down.”
Flower City Union defender Josue Cartagena added that it’s been a long season for the club.
“It’s been lots of ups and downs,” said Cartagena. “Mostly lows though. At this point in the season we’re just happy that we’re finally getting congratulated for our hard work. Every loss that we had here on the field, those teams coming in would celebrate. We would hear them celebrating in our own locker room. I think we got that sour taste and we’re coming back for our vengeance. We’re coming back and we’re going to win it all.”
It’s the just the second season for Flower City Union. Sullivan said at the beginning of the season it was the team’s mission to bring the soccer community back to Rochester.
“How do we put Rochester soccer back on the map?,” said Sullivan. “It comes from winning, and we’ve done that. The job’s nearly done, but it’s not done yet. We’ve got one more game to prepare for and we’re going to go out there and do our best.”
Kwesele stated that Rochester has a long soccer history and the team wants to add to it.
“We came here with that common vision and that common goal,” said Kwesele. “The fact that we’ve made it this far is incredible. However, we want to be among the most special Rochester stories.”
Flower City Union will head to Michigan for the championship game on Saturday, November 11th. They will take on second-seeded Michigan Stars FC.