Top 10 stories of 2018 and stats leaders

By Ralph 'Onz' Chery

Top 10 stories of 2018 and stats leaders

Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. players celebrating after winning the 2017-18 CSL title. Photo by David DuPuy

 

By Ralph 'Onz' Chery |@onz_11

January 13th, 2019

 

Now that we’re a little over 10 days into 2019, enough time passed by to process what happened in the CSL in 2018. It wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t a bad year at all, the CSL nominated an MVP for the first time in the modern era, a group of CSLers made the final of a foreign league that’s one flight above the CSL, a couple of international players joined the league. Indeed, it wasn’t a bad year. Let’s take a look at the top 10 stories that didn’t make 2018 a bad year for the CSL.

 

10. Lansdowne and Cedar Stars’ triple-header

They say lighting never strike at the same place twice. But as for the Stars and the Bhoys they struck each other three straight times in a row. 

Powerhouses Cedar Stars Academy and Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. squared up for three consecutive times in the first half of this season in the Eastern NY finals of the Fritz Marth National Amateur Cup and the Werner Fricker Open Cup and in the Manning Cup semifinals.

The Bhoys got the best out of Cedar Stars twice, beating them in the Fricker Cup, 2-1, and in the Manning Cup semifinal, 2-0. Cedar Stars defeated Lansdowne in the Amateur Cup in penalties, 3-0, after a 1-1 draw.

 

9. NYCFC signed Bedoya

Daniel Bedoya holding a NYCFC jersey after is move there. Photo taken from NYCFC.com.

 

Another CSLer made it to the MLS in 2018 as New York City F.C. signed ex-NY Pancyprian Freedoms playmaker Daniel Bedoya. Bedoya was the second top scorer and second top assistman for the Freedoms last season, registering seven goals and 10 assists in 13 games.

NYCFC spotted the Columbian as he was playing against them in a scrimmage with their PDL affiliated side Long Island Rough Riders.

Former Lansdowne striker Mamadou Guirassy was drafted in the MLS in 2018 by Portland Timbers but was later released.

 

8. Cosmos players’ flood in the CSL

2018 was a cosmotic year for the CSL. Seven Cosmos players joined the CSL in the first half of this season, including first team captain Danny Szetela, star striker Bledi Bardic, who led the league in scoring in his loan move, tallying 16 goals in 10 games.

 

New York Cosmos striker Bledi Bardic during his loan move at Cedar Stars Academy.

 

Cosmos right back Jonathan Borrajo is the second top assistman, racking six assists in 10 appearances.

 

7. The interesting 2018 final

Gamepic of the 2017-18 CSL final. Picture by David DuPuy

 

The 2017-18 CSL final couldn’t have gotten any weirder and any more controversial.

Top scorer Christopher Katona stepped in the goal in the seventh minute for an injured Bryan Lopez. And no, as good of a scorer he is, Katona didn’t manage to score as a keeper.

Seven minutes inside the second half, the Bhoys’ keeper Abdoukarim ‘Kabo’ Danso palmed Walter Calderon’s shot away. It was a great save from Kabo but there was just one minor issue—Kabo saved the ball outside his box. The Cedar Stars players and coaches thought Kabo deserved a red card and weren’t shy to tell the referee. However the only card the big keeper saw from the referee that day was yellow.

There were a couple of controversial offside calls against Lansdowne in the first half as well. And the icing on the cake, as the score was 1-0 for the Stars in the 90th minute, Lansdowne was rewarded a disputable penalty kick for a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge in the box.

Lansdowne ex-captain, now coach, Sean Kelly converted the spot kick to send the game to penalty kicks, which the Bhoys won 4-2.

 

6. Cedar Stars’ monstrous recording breaking season

Cedar Stars played one of the most dominating seasons in the history of the league in the 2017-18 campaign, breaking four major modern era records.

CSA set the record for the longest win streak in the CSL as they were victorious in 12 straight matches. They scored the most goals in a season, hitting their opponents’ nets 71 times in 20 games.

On the defensive end, the Stars had the longest consecutive clean sheets, not conceding a goal in 10 straight games and notched the most shutouts in a season as well, 11.  

 

5. Lansdowne’s comebacks

Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. players celebrating after winning the 2017-18 CSL title. Photo by David DuPuy

 

You can’t always trust a boy if he tells you “I’ll be right back.” But if he's a bhoy you can trust him. Lansdowne suffered two major downfalls this year but bounced back up and even won three titles to crown their recovery.

The Irish club started this season with six straight losses to CSL teams. They were the last placed team at one point and were eliminated out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. by Shamrocks.

Jim and Sean Kelly’s men crawled out of their slump as they went on a 17-game winning run, mounted up to fourth place, won the ENY Fricker Cup final and clinched the Manning Cup final by beating Cedar Stars on both occasions.

Last season, Lansdowne played their least successful CSL campaign in seven years, finishing in third place with a 13W-3L-2T record and getting knocked out in the local stage of the Fricker Cup and the Amateur Cup. They lost the last game of the regular season, 2-0, to NY Pancyprian Freedoms.

The Irish club looked more like itself in the post-season as they blanked the Freedoms, 3-0, in the semis and won the final by besting Cedar Stars in PKs. In their next match, the Bhoys won the Manning Cup, outplaying NY Greek Americans, 1-0.

 

4. Two international players joined the league

NY Pancyprian Freedoms striker Shavon John-Brown in a match with Grenada.

 

The CSL welcomed the first international players since Chris Megaloudis, who played for Puerto Rico. NY Pancyprians summer signing Shavon John-Brown represents Grenada and Lansdowne inked a deal with U.S. Virgin Islands international Aaron Dennis in October.

Dennis parted ways from Lansdowne to join New York Cosmos on January 7th.

 

3. First season MVP and Player of the Year of the modern era

Cedar Stars Academy midfielder Christopher Katona. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis 

 

2018 was the first year in the modern era in which the CSL selected a Player of the Year from. Cedar Stars Academy midfielder Christopher Katona won the accolade. Katona led the league in goals, 30, and in assists in 20 outings in 2018.

The league also selected a season MVP for the first-time in 2018. Katona snatched the first MVP award as well after topping the league in goals and in assists, scoring 27 times and racking 24 goal-passes in 19 matches in his debut season.

 

2. A club mainly made of CSLers, Motown, reached the NPSL final

F.C. Motown players and coaches after winning the NPSL Keystone Conference.

 

10 of F.C. Motown starters from the 2018 NPSL season were CSLers. Motown clinched the final, which they lost to Miami F.C. 2, 3-1.

Cedar Stars midfielder Matthew Nigro won the 2018 NPSL Ballon D’or while playing for F.C.M.

 

1. Coach Friel joined his rivals Cedar Stars

Cedar Stars Academy head coach Austin Friel in his time with Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. Images

 

Selecting an MVP for the first time is great news, so is reaching the NPSL final and having international players. But former Lansdowne head coach Austin Friel joining the club’s rivals Cedar Stars in September is the story from 2018 that lifted most people off their seats, not just in astonishment but also in awe of the twist and turns of the beautiful game.

Friel spent five years with Lansdowne and won 10 trophies with them and the 2017 Region I Coach of the Year. The Irish coach had just won the CSL final against CSA in a controversial game before his move. And as you expect in a rivalry, the sideline and after-the-game conversations are at times not the friendliest. But there you had it, Lansdowne's head coach transferred to Cedar Stars.

Friel’s swap to CSA brought a ton of exhilaration to the league.

“I think this brings some excitement to the league,” Ovan Oakley, Lansdowne’s striker and Friel’s former player said. “I'm excited to play and see what the match up will be like. Austin is a smart manager and knows how to manage a team.”

 

 

2018 stats leaders

 

Player of the YearChristopher Katona—led the league in goals, 29, and in assists

 

Top scorers: Cedar Stars Academy midfielder Christopher Katona—30 goals in 20 games

 

Most goals in a game: Cedar Stars Academy midfielder Christopher Katona—4 goals; Cedar Stars Academy forward Bledi Bardic—4 goals

 

Most assists in a game: NY Pancyprian Freedoms Shavon John-Brown—5 assists

 

Team with the most domestic winsCedar Stars Academy—17 wins out of 21 games; NY Pancyprian Freedoms--17 wins out of 21 games

 

Team with the most titlesLansdowne Yonkers F.C.— 3 (CSL title, Manning Cup, Eastern N.Y. Werner Fricker Open Cup title)

 

Team with the most goalsCedar Stars Academy—75 goals in 21 games

 

Team that conceded the least goalsCedar Stars Academy—17 goals conceded in 21 games

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