Rochester NY FC: Jamie Vardy's American franchise to join new MLS Next Pro league in 2022

Rochester New York FC will compete in new MLS Next Pro league in inaugural 2022 season; Jamie Vardy bought minority stake in American franchise in June; "This is when it starts to feel very real," Leicester striker tells Sky Sports News

Jamie Vardy, Rochester Rhinos. Picture credit: @rochesterrhinos
Image: Leicester striker Jamie Vardy bought a minority stake in Rochester NY FC in June

Jamie Vardy's American soccer club, Rochester New York FC, have announced they will compete in the MLS Next Pro league for the inaugural 2022 season.

The new league has been set up by Major League Soccer to create a pathway of talent through to the top division, with every team bar the independent Rochester NY FC affiliated to an MLS franchise.

The New York State-based club were in negotiations with multiple US leagues ahead of the 2022 season as they looked to field a team for the first time since announcing a hiatus in 2017.

"This is when it starts to feel very real," Vardy has told Sky Sports News.

Jamie Vardy Rochester

"When we started out on this journey, I knew I was taking a big risk and it was going to be a massive challenge. Now that challenge is very clear.

"Rochester NY FC is based in New York State, and there are going to be some huge matches against teams in Toronto, New England, Philadelphia, Miami, Orlando… it's a really exciting line-up."

Vardy bought a minority stake in Rochester NY FC in June and became the club's co-owner alongside the Dworkin family, who have been at the helm since 2016 and also part-own the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

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Since his arrival, Rochester have gone through an extensive makeover - including a rebrand from their previous name, the Rochester Rhinos, as well as a new club crest.

David and Wendy Dworkin, Rochester Rhinos. Picture credit: @rochesterrhinos
Image: David and Wendy Dworkin, Rochester Rhinos. Picture credit: @rochesterrhinos

Vardy says he wants to grow the club so it can match some of its achievements of the past and follow a similar 'rags to riches' journey that has marked his own playing career.

His plan is also to recreate some of the success he managed with his "V9 Academy" in England, which gave a second chance to non-league players who he felt were good enough to play in professional football.

Rochester, formed in 1996, have not competed at any level for four years, but they have won the national championships four times and are the only non-MLS team to have won the US Open Cup.

Vardy has no plans to retire from playing and has scored nine league goals for Leicester this season.

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