Picture by Devaughn Clasp
By Ralph "Onz" Chery | @onz_11
March 10th, 2018
The CSL’s elite division will return back to action on Sunday after a four-month break.
NY Pancyprian Freedoms Andreas Chronis shared how eager he and the other players are to play CSL soccer again.
“I’m very excited to start the season as soccer is a huge part of my life,” Chronis said, “as I know it is for many of my colleagues in the league.
“I’m very pleased with the level of the teams in the league this season. Playing fierce games every week creates an environment of competitiveness and it gives us all something to look forward to.”
NY Pancyprian Freedoms winger Andreas Chronis. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
The most anticipated aspect of the second half of the season is the fight for the four playoff spots between the league’s five giants: Lansdowne Bhoys, Cedar Stars Academy, NY Pancyprian Freedoms, NY Greek American and NY Shamrock SC.
The Bhoys are comfortably on top of the table by five points over Cedar Stars. NY Pancyprian is below the Stars with 19 points. Beneath the Pancyprians, champions NY Greeks are in the last playoff spot just one point over the Rocks.
NYGA clinched the last playoff spot by goal differential last year. NY Greeks captain Shaun Foster expressed that the he and his teammates are optimistic before fighting to remain in the playoffs in the Spring.
“I think the whole club is very confident," Foster said. "We are the reigning champions, are still in both national cups and the state cup so we are setting our sights on more silverware.”
NY Greek American defensive midfielder Shaun Foster. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Another story to look forward to in the Spring is Lansdowne’s quest to win the league after losing to NY Greeks in the semifinals last year. The Bhoys were also knocked out of the Amateur Cup and the Fricker Cup—two competitions they won last year—earlier this season, which gives the three-time CSL champs more drive to snatch their title of Cosmopolitan champions back.
NY Pancyprian Freedoms also have a great motivation to fight for the CSL title as the club lost in the final three times in the last four seasons.
The Freedoms went undefeated in the league in the first half of the season. Chronis is hoping his team will hold on to their unbeaten run in the CSL and go on to win the title.
“We remained unbeaten relatively easily in the first half of the season as I believe we controlled the pace in most of the games we played,” the winger said. “The second half of the season will surely be more hectic with added pressure, but we have a great mix of players on our team this year that play for each other.
“If we continue to play with tenacity, and sharpen up our finishing, I don't think we will have a problem remaining undefeated this year and hopefully bring a long due CSL title to the club.”
The Freedoms arguably have the toughest schedule of the second half of the season as they’ll face Cedar Stars, Shamrocks, NY Greeks consecutively to start the Spring season.
Elsewhere at the bottom half of the table, promoted side Manhattan Kickers, Doxa and Zum Schneider will be battling to stay away from the dropzone.
The Kickers signed a league-high of five signings before brawling to stay in D1 in the second half of the season. Two of Manhattan’s new players are ex-Shamrocks midfielder James Zaidan and Vaughn College 2017’s top scorer Azzeddine Sekkat.
Other noteworthy signings going into the Spring season are Cedar Stars’ acquisition of ex-New York Red Bulls midfielder Dilly Duka, Chris Megaloudis’ swap from NY Pancyprians to their rivals NY Greeks and Shamrocks’ signing of 2016 ASL Finals MVP Travis Blair.
Cedar Stars Academy signed ex-New York Red Bulls player Dilly Duka during the winter break.
NY Greeks will be without their star defender Harri Hawkins during the break as the Englishman signed a professional contract with USL side Penn F.C.
“Losing Harri is obviously a huge blow,” Foster admitted, “but we are happy that he’s made the step up to the next level and deservedly so. However we do believe that our squad depth is very good and it’s an opportunity for someone to step up.”
As for the top scorer's race, CSA’s midfielder Christopher Katona and Lansdowne striker Ovan Oakley will be going at it. Katona is on top of the scorer’s chart with 13 goals, three more than Oakley.
The regular season will end on May 20th with a battle between relegation threatened side Doxa and playoff team NY Greeks at Joseph F. Fosina Field at 6:00 p.m.