Malatyaspor USA player-coach Umit Karan will look to lead his side to the top flight in the second half of the season.
By Ralph "Onz" Chery | @onz_11
March 9th, 2018
The CSL's second division will resume from the winter break on Sunday, looking down the road, D2 has an exciting second half of the season waiting to unfold.
First-year CSL club Malatyaspor USA is entering the Spring season at the summit of the North Region's table.
Ex-Turkish international Umit Karan is Malatyaspor's coach. Mala’s player Engin Baytar, a former Galatasaray winger, is the top scorer of the second division, tallying 12 goals in just five outings.
Former Galatasaray player Engin Baytar leads the second division in scoring.
Beneath the Turkish club in the standings, only three points separate them from the fifth placed team. First-year CSL team KidSuper Samba, Central Park Rangers Reds and Brishna sit below Malatyaspor respectively with 15 points each--just one point shy off the league leaders. Meanwhile former D1 side Manhattan Celtic is in fifth place with 13 points.
When asked how he feels about battling for the promotion spot in such a tight standings, KidSuper Samba’s 24-year-old striker Alhoussain Bah said: “It’s going to be fun. Obviously there are a couple of good teams in the north region, we have the talent to go out and compete against anybody.”
Bah later added: “Winning our first game [against Bronx Supreme FC] will be huge because we want to build that momentum going into to the rest of the games. We cannot afford to lose games in the second half of the season if we want to finish on top, I guess what I’m saying is the key [to get promoted] is to win as much games as possible.”
Over in the South Region, Hoboken F.C is the top seeded team with a five-point advantage over Polonia Gwardia NY. Hoboken went undefeated in the first half of the season while scoring the most goals and conceded the least in the second division.
The club’s star striker and D2’s current top scorer, alongside Baytar, Cory Chaplin, shared that the players’ brotherhood is a major component of their unbeaten record.
“We have a great group of guys who genuinely enjoy playing together and it shows in our results,” Chaplin said. “Our camaraderie makes it easy to put in that little extra effort needed to get results even when we aren't playing our best. We have been able to keep our mentality strong despite starting some games poorly and eventually our quality came through.”
Hoboken F.C striker Cory Chaplin is the top scorer of the second division alongside Engin Baytar from Malatyaspor USA with 12 goals.
With a five-point gap on top of the South Region table, Hoboken is the closest team to promotion going into the second half of the season. Chaplin expressed what’s it’s like mentally to enter the Spring season with his side being placed in the sacred promotion spot.
“We are obviously excited about the prospects of promotion but don't want to get ahead of ourselves,” the striker said.
“We have been around the top of the table fighting for promotion the last two years and came up short both times. Remembering that disappointment will hopefully keep us focused on getting the results necessary to return to the first division. Having played in the first division my first year at H.F.C (2014-15 season) I know how challenging it can be, but collectively I think we all want to test ourselves playing at the highest level our league has to offer.”
Some key fixtures from both region’s promotion battle are Brishna and Malatyaspor’s clash this weekend at Randall’s Island Field 72 at 1:00 p.m., Central Park Rangers Reds’ encounter with Manhattan Celtic next Sunday.
The top two sides of the North Region, Malatyaspor and KidSuper Samba will square off next Sunday as well.
In the South Region, the top two teams, H.F.C and Polonia, will verse each other on the last day of the season on May 20th.
As for the top scorer race, as mentioned Baytar and Chaplin are currently the joint top scorers with 12 goals. KidSuper Samba’s striker Bah is below Baytar and Chaplin in the top scorer chart with nine goals.
The young striker is eager to mount on top of the chart in the second half of the season.
“It’s a great feeling [to be the third top scorer] and it motivates me even more going into the second half of the season” Bah said. “I want to be the top scorer in this league and I will do everything to achieve that.”