Real Olé FC poses for a team photo on Randalls Island prior to it's season opener against Central Park Rangers FC on Sunday, September 8 (Credit: Real Olé FC)
The new, 17-team single table Division 2 kicked off last weekend as seven games played out. Three teams (NY Ukrainians, Stal Mielec NY, and DeSportiva Sociedad NY) will be kicking off their season this weekend instead. For Week 1 though, three draws and two big score games are some of the highlights as new sides and familiar ones battled for the first time ever in league play.
For 14 teams this was the first step. Here are all the results:
Saturday, September 7
FC Japan v. Beyond FC (1-1)
Two of last season’s middle table finishers started the new year with a stalemate as FC Japan and Beyond FC could not score more than once against one-another and settled for the draw, 1-1.
Each team scored in a separate half with Beyond getting on the board first and Japan following suit in the second. The visitor’s Stephan Youdeem was assisted by Ricardo Cervi midway through the first 45 as the rest of his team kept FC Japan’s offense away from net.
“Over the summer we’ve worked hard and improved a lot on all aspects of our game,” Beyond team manager Ahmed Hamami said in an email. “This game does feel a bit more like a loss than a tie as we controlled the game. We held them without a shot until late in the second half which turned out to be their goal. Credit to FC Japan however. We knew going into this game we needed to put in a full 90 minutes and their work rate was relentless all game.”
For FCJ, chances and long possessions began to build late in the first half and finally paid off when Danny Ospina cut into midfield from the left side and slotted a pass from Shogo Yamamoto into the lower opposite corner. Both team’s defenses played the part for the rest of the match as the game ended level.
Both clubs will have fierce competition as they take on both of last season’s Division 2 semifinalists. FC Japan will have no extra day of rest as it’s next match-up comes this Saturday hosting Stal Mielec NY while Beyond takes on Polonia Gwardia NY at home on Sunday.
Sunday, September 8
NYPD FC v. Manhattan Celtic (0-5)
At the end of last season, both NYPD FC and Manhattan Celtic has late pushes to try and earn places in the North Region of Division 2. While both came up short both squads looked to take that momentum into 2019-20 and for the visiting Celtic they seem to have done so as they defeated New York’s Finest, 5-0, on the road.
Celtic’s high powered attack was the story of the game. The group got the ball in front of the net multiple times and made the NYPD defense work. Head coach Matthew Kane explained that his team were “clinical” in front of the net and were much improved in terms of finishing than they were last season.
Marco Charnas and Kwadwo Asante both scored twice while Eduardo Juarez also picked up a goal during the game. Charas also earned two assists and Asante aided on one of the other goals.
Kane also explained that the clean sheet is also a great accomplishment for a team that dominated on that front last season.
We added to our backline with a debut at right back from Mau Forinio, and new Goalkeeper Michael Neish,” Kane said in an email. “Happy to have kept the clean sheet. We had the best defensive record in the league last year and we intend on keeping that and now adding goals.”
Celtic will host the Central Park Rangers FC this Sunday at home in a CSL version of the Old Firm rivalry while NYPD has this week off and returns to league action on Sunday, September 22 to take on Afghan FC NY in a 10 AM home game.
Polonia Gwardia NY v. Kelmendi FC NY (1-1)
No goal scorer information sent by either team
Last year’s Division 2 South Region Champions and Playoff semifinalists, Polonia Gwardia NY, began the new season with a draw at home, 1-1, against the 2019 Metro Division 1 finalist Kelmendi FC NY.
Polonia lead last season’s second division in least goals allowed while Kelmendi was a prolific foe in the third tier of the CSL. Both sides are entering 2019-20 with greatly different roles and Polonia looks to make the playoffs again for another consecutive year while the newly promoted KFCNY hopes to make an impact against and avoid a yo-yo relegation to the Third Division.
The Polish heritage side will cross the Hudson River this Sunday to take on Beyond FC in Week 2 action while Kelmendi hosts NY Ukrainians on Saturday.
Hoboken FC 1912 v. FC Ulqini (0-0)
After one season in the first division, Hoboken FC returned to the second tier of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League with a scoreless draw, 0-0, against FC Ulqini.
Despite an offense heavily showing from Hoboken in the day’s reserves game that the team won, 8-0, the match between the first teams focused more on defense. FC Ulqini played with physicality and made continuous substitutions during the 90 minutes but couldn’t take control of the pace as 1912 held a majority of the ball possession. Keeper Jon-Paul Francini earned the shutout for Hoboken as did the Ulqini net minder.
"It was a good test back in the 2nd division for our first team,” Hoboken head coach Steve Korfiatis said after the game in an email. “We earned the point with solid defending and saw a lot of positive play throughout the match… We look forward to continuing to develop the group as the season progresses.”
Hoboken will be on the road for Week 2 as it visits DeSportiva Sociedad NY in the latter’s first Division 2 game. Ulqini will close out Sunday with a night game against Manhattan Kickers on Randalls Island.
(Pictured: Hoboken FC 1912 First and Reserve teams for the 2019-20 season (Credit: Hoboken FC 1912))
Central Park Rangers FC v. Real Olé FC (2-5)
Real Olé FC, one of last season’s dark horse playoff hopefuls looking to surge in 19/20, opened up Division 2 play with a win, 5-2, over Central Park Rangers FC.
For Central Park, which played in both the first and second division last season with “CPR White” and “CPR Red” teams, the game day roster was full of new faces and regulars being out due to injury. Without it’s regular goalkeeper and main striker upfront the team had struggles at both ends of the field.
“Just like in 18/19, we had a ton of new faces with big turnover in the first team roster, so we're expecting a learning curve in the beginning of the season,” CPR team manager Mike Carducci said in an email. “Not to take anything away from Real Olé though, they seemed to be significantly improved from last season and have a real strong team that I'd expect to be challenging for the D2 title in 19/20.”
Real’s offense looked primed during the 90 minutes. Forward and assistant team coach Nick VonEgypt, Kevin Davis, and Jimmy Barros all scored while Pat Alvarez put two in the net. Davis was a standout for his team as he assisted on three more of the goals during the day and played a key part in the field. Oscar Rodriguez and VonEgypt also tallied assists.
The two teams traded goals in the first 15 minutes after Real got on the board in the first few minutes but CPR equalized when Facundo Zalazar, off an assist from Axel Ebene, made a chip shot from the 40-yard line that sailed over the keeper. The Real Olé and CPR offenses traded chances but before half the visitors were up 3-1. Two more in the final half and an 85th minute response by the Rangers’ Sam Allington, assisted by Neil Morrissey, closed out the game.
“It was the perfect way to start the season: by winning away against one of the most experienced teams in the league,” Alvarez said, who also serves as the team’s assist coach. “Great performance from Kevin Davis, and the other guys.”
Real will go home this Sunday and host Williamsburg International FC as both teams look to finish in the upper table this season while Rangers will meet Manhattan Celtic on Randalls Island the same day.
Williamsburg International FC v. Afghan FC NY (4-2)
No goal scorer information given by Afghan FC NY
On a beautiful day in Brooklyn, Williamsburg International FC started the new season with three points as it beat Division 2 newcomer Afghan FC NY, 4-2. A goal-for-goal affair for the first half quickly went Williamsburg's way in the second behind a solid line of counterattacks.
The Doylies’ Cameron Barwick put on a resume boosting performance as he scored three goals for his team and helped pushed back AFCNY as they tried to launch a comeback. One of last seasons standouts John Kaddo scored the fourth goal for his team and picked up two assists, while Oliver Harrison and Gerrit van den Berg also assisted on one goal each.
Afghan head coach Mohammad Mashriqi explained after the match that his team missed multiple opportunities that could have leveled or even given his team the lead but also admitted both the reserve team game, which WIFC also won earlier that day, 2-1, and first team games were well played.
Williamsburg will take on Real Olé FC on the road this Sunday while Afghan FC will continue its inaugural D2 campaign against Richmond County FC on the same day.
Richmond County FC v. Manhattan Kickers (3-2)
Last season’s Champions of the Metro Division 1’s East Region (Now Division 3) only lost one game behind the M1’s most productive offense. After it’s first game following promotion, Richmond County FC continued that success with a win over CSL stalwart Manhattan Kickers, 3-2.
The game was not without controversy as the Kickers were playing a man down for over 80 minutes due to a call for a thrown elbow. Despite the handicap the visiting team was able to maintain possession of the ball consistently as the momentum switched back and forth.
Richmond’s manager Halid Brkanovic said after the match that his team performed well but needs tune ups and refinement for the next game.
“I thought our team handled our first game in Division 2 very well,” Brkanovic said in an email. “We showed great composure and had the right intensity. I think we thought the game was over when it was 3-1, with a man advantage, which led to a pretty bad final 20 min. We'll use that as a learning experience and remember to stay focused for the full 90 minutes.”
County was able to take the lead minutes into the first half when Marcin Fijalkiewicz headed in a cross from Luis Kaba on a counter attack from the right side and scored again before halftime when Peter Zima found David Folvarksy on a break who beat the keeper one-on-one. Fijalkiewicz sealed the game away with his second goal of the day in the 65th minute off a shot from distance and earned MVP honors from his coach for the performance that also included isolating Kicker potential chances all game.
Despite the early issues Kickers fought back and began to build up plays from their own end. The constant passing was able to get around Richmond’s defense and resulted in an equalizer in the 15th minute from Brian Morris. However despite multiple subs being used to try and keep legs fresh, the loss of a player and defensive issues hampered the team’s progress.
Kickers head coach Bryan Baracaldo explained in an email that his team was still producing chances in the second half but nothing could find the back of the net.
“We had a handful of chances, one from Tommy Fitzpatrick who headed a ball to the corner of the goal, only to be accidentally saved by one of our players who was on the goal line” Baracaldo said. “Several headers in the box from Rasmus Morgensen, shots from Mathias Jorge, Senan Lonergan among others
“A frustrating result but with so many new faces and a poor call on the refs part that left us with 10 men so early on, it’s only something we can learn from and continue to build chemistry for the long season ahead,” he added.
Jorge scored from the spot in the 90th minute when County was called for a handball in the box but it wasn’t enough.
“We were very impressed with their resiliency in the second half,” Brkanovic said about his team’s opponent. “To play with 10 men for a large portion of the game away from home is not easy but they remained compact and used subs wisely to stay fresh.”
The Kickers will play the final game of the weekend for the second week in a row as they host FC Ulqini this Sunday while Richmond’s away match against Afghan FC NY has yet to determine a date, time, or venue.