Northern Exposure: Med City FC

by on 11 May 2017

Med City FC head coach Luke Corey wants to make something clear: there is actually a pretty good soccer scene in Canada.

“The level of soccer is on par with the U.S.,” the Canadian says. “Hopefully people don’t think that just because I’m from Canada, that I know hockey but I don’t know soccer.”

Corey is quite intimate with soccer.

Med City FC head coach Luke Corey instructs his team at training. Photo courtesy of Med City FC.

He played at a Division I equivalent college as a striker at Queen’s University in Ontario. After that he became an assistant coach at Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia, which he describes as a Division II or III equivalent team, and eventually head coach for eight seasons. He went on to compete in two national championships there before moving to Rochester.

Soon after Corey relocated south, the Med City FC coaching position opened as the club began preparations ahead of its inaugural season.

With several seasons of building teams under his belt, Corey knew that the type of play that would suit him best was a possession-based style, with an emphasis on counter attacking.

“We just have the skill and ability to be able to maintain possession,” Corey says of his Med City crew. “We also have some very attack-minded players. The combination of our ability to maintain possession will open up attacking opportunities that we will definitely take advantage of.”

Depending on the team Rochester faces, Corey sees his squad as being able to play its own game and play with a bit of flair. He’s recruited local guys that have played together, but also out-of-state players. In fact, Corey was surprised at just how popular tryouts were.

But there have been challenges with recruiting from across the country, and Corey admits that there will be some hiccups.

“Come our first game this weekend we’ll still be missing five or six of our guys that we collected, but we’ll have a solid 19 players on the roster for the first game,” Corey says.

Another challenge is building team chemistry.

“We’ve got 25 players from 25 different teams playing 25 different systems,” he continues. “To be able to come together in such a short amount of time and be in sync is very challenging.”

In spite of that, the coach says the players who’ve made it to Rochester have done well to adapt to his system, and also shed old habits.

“Is it going to be perfect in the first game? Probably not,” Corey admits. “But I think very quickly we’ll be in sync and firing on all cylinders.”

Three Med City FC players take part in training before the season begins. Photo courtesy of Med City FC.

Getting into rhythm quickly will be important to meet Corey’s first-year goal: getting a playoff spot.

“Anything short of that you can consider a failure based off of the expectations that not only we have as coaching staff, but the players as well,” Corey says. “They’re coming in here ready to win.”

The team is already winning off the field.

General manager Frank Spaeth secured a sponsorship with Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. The sports medicine arm of the health care giant will provide athletic services including psychology and nutrition. The Mayo Clinic perviously had a tangential connection to the German national team, as its performance provider and partner, EXOS, worked with Die Mannschaft ahead of its victorious 2014 World Cup campaign.

We want to train these guys like they’re professionals. Our desire is to see them go back to their colleges in the fall and be stars.
-Frank Spaeth

Med City also has a team beer fermenting, Mayhem Maibock, thanks to a restaurant sponsor, Grand Rounds Brewing Co.

Spaeth is a former college soccer player who was approached by La Crosse Aris’ general manager, a former college soccer teammate, about bringing a team to Rochester. As fate would have it, LC Aris FC will be Med City’s first opponent this weekend at the Rochester Regional Stadium.

In addition to playing experience, Spaeth was a volunteer with the Rochester Thunder when former Minnesota Stars player Kentaro Takada was starting to rise through the ranks.

And he was also the assistant general manager for the Minnesota Chill volleyball team. In 2002 the Chill won a national championship, and three players went on to represent the U.S. women’s national volleyball team.

So not only does Spaeth know soccer, but he’s got an idea of how to accomplish another goal: developing Med City players.

“We want to train these guys like they’re professionals,” he says. “Our desire is to see them go back to their colleges in the fall and be stars. Or even better, get into a position where they can go on and play at higher levels, sign a professional contract at some point. We really want to help give these guys a platform to continue their careers, to grow and improve as players.”

Aside from building a successful team, Spaeth and Corey are adamant on finding ways to get players to connect with people in the community, whether it be reading at schools or helping out charity organizations.

“It’s important for us that our players are good citizens as much as they are good players,” Spaeth explains.

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