Pat Ercoli is a former professional soccer player who spent three season with the Rochester Lancers of the old North American Soccer League. Ercoli led the Rhinos as head coach for the first nine years of its history,lifting three A-League trophies and the U.S. Open Cup in the process.
The Bent Musket asked Mr. Ercoli about the status of the affiliation between the Rochester Rhinos and New England Revolution in light of D.C.'s announcement regarding Richmond at the beginning of the month. At this point only the Rochester/New England and Sacramento/San Jose partnerships are waiting on official confirmation as this graphic from intrepid USL superfan @GoyoSpradlin illustrates.
"It's definitely in play for the upcoming season," Ercoli said. "We're in the midst of trying to make that announcement. They're in preseason in Tucson so we just haven't gotten together with regards to making that announcement."
Scheduling conflicts aside, Ercoli is optimistic about the upcoming season and especially about the team's relationship with the Revolution. "We're actually working even closer together than we have over the last 2 years. We're trying to look at players who are being released [like Pierre Omanga was in 2014] and players that they're looking at who can potentially help their roster but may not be at that level yet. We can step in and help them in their advancement."
Ercoli did not directly acknowledge that two past two years have left something to be desired from fans of both teams but he did admit that going into 2015, "I think the understanding's better now." Looking ahead, Rochester doesn't think this will be the last season to tinker with the affiliation. "They [The Revs] have no intention of fielding their own team moving forward unless there's a mandate from MLS."
Despite the fact that New England has only retained Donnie Smith from the 8 players who featured on loan with Rochester over the past two years, Ercoli is confident the Rhinos can provide a platform for young players. "We'll see how it progresses. I mean, obviously if we can help develop some players and we accomplish the same things the MLS teams in our league are doing, then New England will see it as a toss and would continue to do this."