Rochester New York FC becomes first independent club to join MLS NEXT Pro in 2022

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The MLS NEXT Pro league will serve as a developmental league and a pathway for players to get to the MLS.

In total, 21 clubs will make up the new league, but Rochester New York FC will be the sole independent club.

The league plans on expanding again in 2023 by adding eight more MLS-affiliated teams. All of this leads up to when the United States will co-host the 2026 World Cup.

Co-owners David and Wendy Dworkin and British professional soccer star Jamie Vardy were in attendance to make the announcement.

"RNY FC" will play at John L. DiMarco Field on the campus of Monroe Community College.

RNY FC became the chosen name for the team in September as part of a rebranding of the former Rochester Rhinos.

In 2020, the Rhinos announced a partnership with the Empire United Soccer Academy to train at Empire’s facility in Henrietta. The complex has a lighted turf field, indoor field house, gym, and team meeting facilities.

The team moved out of their stadium in Rochester back in 2018, breaking its partnership with the city. The team hasn’t played since.

Vardy, who took on the role in June, had a hand in the team’s re-design.

The club expects more announcements to take place in January of 2022.