A Manhattan Kickers forward pushes against the New York Shamrock SC defense during their Week 21 match (Credit: Manhattan Kickers)
The penultimate week of regular season action in CSL Division 1 last weekend solidified a few things. First, only two teams can finish in first place and the winner will be decided next week. The final relagation spot was also determined. Overall, many teams know where they stand in the overall table so most are playing for pride at this point. That doesn't mean there weren't some exciting games though.
With a holiday break seperating fans from Week 22, let's catch up with the full recap:
Thursday, May 20
New York Greek Americans II vs Richmond County FC (0-1)
Week 21 kicked off with a makeup match between two teams in the middle of the table trying to finish strong. In a tale of two halves, Richmond County FC slipped by New York Greek Americans II, 1-0, and is in prime position to finish the regular season in fourth place.
Richmond came out as the strong team in the first 45, creating multiple chances on goal before a Greek foul against Joni Kadriu in the box allowed Peter Zima to step up and score the game winning goal. In the second half however Greeks II pressed high on offense and did not allow County to form any plays out of the back. It looked as though the home side equalized about 70 minutes in but the goal was called back by offside. Players like Dominick Urban and Alban Zekaj were crucial in stopping New York from getting any foothold in the match or leaving with any points.
“We look to keep our winning streak going (currently three in a row) and end the season on a high note,” said County’s head coach Halid Brkanovic. “A win (next) Sunday at (Zum Schneider FC 03 II) would put us in excellent position to finish (in) fourth place. Considering our start to the season (two points in five games), fourth place would be a solid achievement in our first year in Division 1.”
Greeks II will finish the season hosting league leaders New York Shamrock SC on Sunday, June 6.
Saturday, May 22
New York Shamrock SC vs Manhattan Kickers (2-0)
No goal scorer information provided by New York Shamrock SC
New York Shamrock SC avoided an upset and is now on the cusp of the Division 1 title. The team beat Manhattan Kickers, 2-0, beyond a dominant offense.
After the match, Kickers head coach Bryan Baracaldo said his team did not adapt against their table leading foe.
“Defensively, we didn’t press enough up top and that’s how they were able to just pick out the long wide ball which really stretched us,” said Baracaldo, who also noted players like Mahamadou “Remi” Diaby struggled to get past the Rocks’ lines. “It was a strong performance from our MVP of the season, Jordan Williams, he saved (us) time and time again.”
The loss for the Kickers means the team will officially finish in the bottom two and now face relegation to Division 2. The group will look to go out with a game they can be proud of against Manhattan Celtic on June 6. The Rocks will play New York Greek Americans II the same day (more on that match below).
Sunday, May 23
Beyond FC vs Polonia SC (2-7)
No goal scorer information provided by either team
A big win for Polonia SC against Beyond FC means the team will not finish in the bottom two of Division 1. The team’s sixth win of the season officially puts it out of the relegation zone while Beyond’s hot and cold season continues in the lower half of the table.
Both teams will finish their regular seasons next Sunday, with Polonia playing rivals Stal Mielec NY and Beyond visiting Zum Schneider FC 03 II in the nightcap of Week 21.
Real Olé FC vs Manhattan Celtic (1-8)
No goal scorer information provided by Real Olé FC
High offense continued for Manhattan Celtic as the team blew past Real Olé FC, 8-1, on Sunday afternoon. In its last three games, Olé FC has lost by seven or more goals while the team has not won a match since mid-April.
After making his return last week, Diego de la Fuente impressed once again scoring three goals for his team, including the opening and closing scores. He was assisted by Dan Korman and twice by team leading scorer Marco Charnas.
He wasn’t the only player to find the back of the net multiple times as Daniel Arvidsson and Charnas both scored two goals each during the game, while Cesar Serna wrapped up the scoring with one of his own. Additionally Korman, Arvidsson, Serna, and Charnas all earned one assist each during this five goal stretch.
In total, Charnas played a hand in over half his team’s goals in the win.
Real will visit third place Hoboken FC 1912 next Sunday in New Jersey. Celtic will play Manhattan Kickers on the same day with the team still in contention for the top prize.
Kelmendi FC NY vs Hoboken FC 1912 (6-4)
The team that’s become known for surprising favorites has done it again. Kelmendi FC NY put up six goals against third place Hoboken FC 1912. The win was crucial for Kelmendi who’re in a tight race with two other teams to finish the season in fourth place. For Hoboken, the loss is the second after the team fell in the semifinals of the New Jersey State Open Cup last weekend.
The struggles continued for 1912 heading into the match as the team had some players pull double duty between the first and reserves matches.
“Unfortunately we've had a string of injuries after the tough schedule and the boys were in a tough mental state after our difficult loss last Wednesday in the state cup,” said Hoboken head coach Steve Korfiatis. “We went down a man in that match and managed to stay the better team through hard work and determination, which means legs were very heavy for the weekend. Mentally we weren't in a great state to play the weekend and it was clear Kelmendi was up for it.”
Kelemdni’s four goals in the first 45 minutes, while having a mix of good defense and poor Hoboken offense, put the team in great position. According to Korfiatis their opponents seemed to score “on every opportunity they had playing the ball” behind his team’s lines. For KFC, Sokol Smajlaj scored twice during the half and assisted on another goal while Anthony Ferrandino picked up two goals of his own.
In the second half, Naim Kurtovic scored two goals of his own (adding onto an assist from the first half) to finish out his team’s performance.
For the otherside, the second half may as well have been a different game. Kevin Halliday scored twice for the team while James Reed and Kevin Bzdek both scored one goal each. Jordan Cimring, Reed and Halliday all earned one assist each as well. His team’s momentum was cut down by Kelmendi’s fifth goal which put the team back down into a hole they never really climbed out of before the final whistle.
Hoboken plays the struggling and soon-to-be relegated Real Olé FC next Sunday while Kelmendi plays Richmond County FC the same day.
Note: This match has also been reported as finishing 7-4 in favor of Kelmendi. If the score changes this will be updated.
New York Greek Americans II vs Stal Mielec NY (1-4)
No goal scorer information provided by either team
If you’re Manhattan Celtic this is the last result you want to see. With the Week 22 match between New York Shamrock SC and New York Greek Americans II playing a roll in deciding which team wins the Division 1 title, seeing the Greeks fall to Stal Mielc NY won’t raise hopes.
The Greeks’s struggles this Spring have been well documented and the team can only hope to finish the year out strong against a trough foe. Stal Mielec’s last game of the year will be against rival Polonia SC.
Zum Schneider FC 03 II vs Richmond County FC (4-4)
Three goals in the final minutes of Sunday’s final match netted both Zum Schneider FC 03 II and Richmond County FC one point each heading into the final week.
After only 15 minutes, Zum took the lead when Atay Yilmaz pressed high and won the ball before slipping it to Faissal Sanfo for a finish into the bottom corner. Both teams created chances during the first half but the next major moment came off an error. A Richmond free kick into the box deflected off a Zum player and into the net for an own-goal, leveling the match at one goal each heading into halftime.
After the break, RCFC looked like a different team as the group finished on more chances. When Zum lost the ball in the middle of the field around the 50th minute, Ady Gaye moved in and drove before chipping the keeper to make it 2-1. Not long after, Mark Shnadshteyn beat the keeper on the right side before chipping him again, this time from a tight angle just outside the box. Zum head coach Ryan Horch went on to call it “the individual play of the game”.
With his team down, Horch’s group began to kind of groove and the press began to affect Richmond. The team that started hot began to have trouble getting out of their own half. Soon, A cross from Conor Pella found the head of Mostafa “Mo” Haridi who redirected it into the net. The momentum swing continued when in the 85th minute Michael Horch played a long, diagonal pass to Jackson Mariani who chested in the tying goal from the far post.
This is where the game truly took a wild turn. Off the restart, Zum coughed up the ball in the middle of the field which allowed Shnadshteyn to grab it and slam in a powerful shot from outside the box. With the game seemingly over, Zum had one final corner kick and a cycle around the box found Ryan Horch, who delivered a ball behind the back line to find Evan Kostylev to tie it, 4-4, with the game's last chance.
“I was very happy with our team's performance, especially for the first hour,” said Richmond head coach Halid Brkanovic. “We're obviously disappointed not to secure all three points, especially with us being up 3-1 and then up 4-3 with two minutes left. Zum has been a thorn to the top sides as of late and we know we have to maintain full focus and intensity for 90 minutes to get a win.”
Richmond finishes the season with two more matches on the horizon. First next Sunday the team will play Kelmendi FC NY, with a win by either team securing fourth place in the final standings. Then on June 13 the team has one final makeup match against Real Olé FC. Zum II will close the regular season against Beyond FC on the evening of June 6.
Tuesday, May 25
Manhattan Celtic vs Polonia SC (1-0)
With both teams coming off a game on Sunday, the early week match between Manhattan Celtic and Polonia SC was always going to be different. Despite their position on the table, Polonia was organized and did not allow Celtic to impose their style in the game, but still fell by the narrow margin of 1-0.
Marco Charnas scored the only goal of the game to give his team points, while his defense limited Polonia to only one chance on goal during regulation. The team was patient despite knowing it needs a win in order to stay in the Division 1 title hunt heading into the final week of the season.
While head coach Matthew Kane has said he wants his players to finish every match with as many goals as possible heading down the stretch, he’s still happy with the result given his group’s recent workload.
“Players have been brilliant in a hectic 10 days,” said Kane in an email. “We look forward to some rest, training sessions and the final league game of the season.”
That match will be against the Manhattan Kickers next Sunday night. Polonia will finish it’s season against Stal Mielec NY earlier that same day.
What to watch for