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Rochester Rhinos approved for new United Soccer League tier, will leave longtime stadium

Finally, there's movement in the Rochester's hiatus from professional soccer. If all goes as planned, the Rochester Rhinos men's soccer team will take part in the 2020 United Soccer League Division 3 season.

Owners David and Wendy Dworkin announced Wednesday, via the club website, that the Rhinos have been approved by the United Soccer League to join the new third tier of U.S. Soccer, still a professional entity but one with lower requirements than USL Division 2, Rochester's former league.

"....We have also determined that fielding the Rhinos in our current Division II league is not sustainable locally at this time," said the owners' statement. "While we are disappointed that the Rhinos will no longer be playing in Division II; we remain committed to keeping professional soccer in our community and building upon its rich history in this region."

While the structure of USL Division 3 hasn't been finalized, the league is set to begin play in 2019, with 10 founding members submitted in paperwork to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Only six of the teams that will play in 2019 have been revealed so far, with Toronto FC II the closest to Rochester.

The hurdles the Dworkins must leap to solidify their spot in USL Division 3 include a stadium plan and community and business support. Stadium issues and financial woes contributed to the owners' decision to take a one-year hiatus from USL play in November 2017, so the work is not done yet.

According to the release, it appears the Rhinos would most likely debut in 2020, provided the owners fulfill the league's conditions.

For their home venue, the Rhinos owners disclosed that the team would no longer play at Marina Auto Stadium - formerly known as Sahlen Stadium and Capelli Sport Stadium - and would focus on building a new multipurpose venue within Monroe County.

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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