A Thruway rivalry is alive in the National Premier Soccer League's Midwest Region Eastern Conference, as Syracuse FC officially joined the league on Wednesday.
Rochester, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Cleveland and Erie also are represented in the seven-team conference, giving FC Buffalo the most logical set of regional foes since the club was founded in 2010. To be specific, Rochester, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland and Syracuse are the five teams connected to the Interstate 90. The NPSL does not intend to further add to the conference, a league spokesman confirmed.
In Wednesday's press release, Matt Tantalo - the former head coach of the Rochester River Dogz - was announced as Syracuse's inaugural head coach and general manager. Tantalo, the current head coach of the Nazareth College men's program, posted a 3-4-3 record in his debut season as an NPSL coach. Syracuse's organization is led by president Jaro Zawislan.
"Currently we don't have anything definite yet as far as coach, and the River Dogz and Coach Tantalo mutually agreed to part ways," said Rochester owner Marc Mandell in a statement. "We wish him well in his new role as GM and head coach."
Mandell also confirmed that Rochester "absolutely" plans to field a team for the 2017 NPSL season.
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Like the River Dogz, FC Buffalo remains in search of a head coach after Brendan Murphy accepted a job as Rochester Rhinos goalkeeper coach last month. General manager and co-owner Nick Mendola reacted to the Syracuse news and provided an update.
"We're happy to have another team down the 90 in Syracuse, and look forward to welcoming Syracuse FC and their new supporters to Western New York," Mendola said in a statement. "More importantly, we're hoping it's another close road trip our supporters and The Situation Room will take this summer.
"We're looking forward to bringing a lot of news to our fans in the next couple weeks, and challenging for a playoff spot in the Midwest Region."
Stay tuned to BN Soccer as further NPSL and FC Buffalo news unfolds.
*Official NPSL Midwest Region Eastern Conference:
- FC Buffalo
- Fort Pitt Regiment
- Erie Commodores
- Rochester River Dogz
- Dayton Dynamo
- AFC Cleveland
- Syracuse FC
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