The New York Greek Americans pose for their team photo prior to their season opener against the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms (Credit: New York Greek Americans)
With summer winding down the new Cosmopolitan Soccer League season has officially begun. Over the past weekend, five games pitted all 10 Division 1 teams against one-another. In this group, both of the newly promoted teams for this season played hard against their new competition while last year’s finalists both scored a plethora of goals in their own games.
Here’s the complete recap for the first weekend in Division 1:
Saturday, September 7
New York Shamrock SC v. Zum Schneider FC 03 (1-2)
Last season, Zum Schneider FC 03 opened 2018-19 with four consecutive losses and were outscored 19 to 4 in the month of September. After going down in the first few minutes to start the new season against New York Shamrocks SC, the team pulled together two goals and held back last year’s Division 1 semi-finalists to open the year with a win, 2-1.
Both teams started the game quick out of the gate as both put chances on the net. After two minutes, a Shamrock shot hit off the crossbar and into a Zum Schneider defender’s hand for a penalty shot. Francesco Zanetti stepped up for his team and converted what was the first goal of the new CSL Division 1 season.
The pace began to benefit the visitors as time wore on as Zum knocked in two goals before the halftime whistle. A back and forth between midfielder Yusuf Mikaheel and winger Ifiok Akpandak ended with the latter making a run down the right side of the field and finishing from an up close angle on the side of the net. With his team dominating possession, Tomas Gomez put his team ahead after Jordan Trinci-Lyne and Lukas Hauer fed him the ball. The high volley was scythed into the back of the net for one of the best looking goals of the weekend.
Zum’s head coach Alexander Berscheid said after the game that he and his team were happy to come away with the three points to start the season. He knows it was a good start, but a long road is ahead and these early games can set the tone for who will finish where.
“Last year we started with 4 consecutive losses, so naturally winning the first encounter to open the season certainly feels good and awards the offseason work we put in,” Berscheid said in an email. “In five weeks time we may see tendencies on who is winning games and who will look towards bottom half.”
Zum nearly had a third goal in the second half when new singing and substitute Jeremy Witherspoon scored off a long pass but was called for offside. The team played strong as Shamrock pushed including Gomez who played the entire length of the field where he was needed.
Despite the loss and missed chances in the second half to equalize, including Darren Coleman hitting the crossbar from close range, Shamrocks coach Paddy Geraghty commended his team’s effort.
“A good performance from the lads this week,” Geraghty said. “Considering we’ve only had four sessions together, I thought we worked hard and stuck together very well. We were unlucky not to score a few more and there are definitely more positives than negatives.”
The Rocks will be in action again this Sunday, September 15, to face off against the New York Athletic Club while Zum Schneider will return home to take on Division 1 newcomers KidSuper Samba AC.
Lansdowne Yonkers FC v. KidSuper Samba AC (1-1)
Fresh off winning the Werner Fricker Amateur Open Cup trophy last month, Lansdowne Yonkers FC opened the CSL season with a draw against KidSuper Sampa AC, 1-1, in the latter's first ever Division 1 game.
The Bhoys game was heavily offensive while KidSuper focused more on the counter-attack and passing game. Both teams had chances to earn three points from the game but the visitors had a winning goal called back while Lansdowne struggled to finish chances including three close calls in the second half.
KidSuper got on the board first twenty minutes in after Vieux Mane scored from 25 yards out off an assist from Juan Dominguez. The best scoring team in the Second Division last season was held up for the rest of the game as Lansdowne began to press and match their attacking methods. Just before the halftime whistle, Yonkers’ Shaquille Saunchez pushed past the Samba back line and refused to go down through challenges before passing off to an open Daryl Kavanagh, who struck from up close to even the score.
Both manager Jim Kelly and head coach Sean Kelly were frustrated with the result and are hoping to have more training sessions with the full squad before they take on Cedar Star Academy.
KSS will be taking on Zum Schneider FC 03 this Sunday on the road while Lansdowne will head home to Yonkers for this Saturday’s lone matchup against last season’s Division 1 finalist.
Sunday, September 8
Cedar Stars Academy v. New York Athletic Club (7-1)
No goal scorer information given by NYAC
One of the most prolific offenses last season in the CSL opened up 2019-20 on same beat as Cedar Star Academy demolished the New York Athletic Club, 7-1, at home.
Three players for Cedar Star scored twice in 90 minutes including two-time reigning MVP Chris Katona, Maxi Garcia, and Ovan Oakley. Matt Nigro rounded out the scoring when he opened it early for the home team. Besides that Garcia, Nigrom Oakley, Emerson Lawrence, and Jimmy Mulligan all earned assists while Katona, who lead the league in the category last year, picked up two.
For New York Athletic Club, who finished fourth from the bottom of the table last season, a game against one of the best the division has to offer still shows work needs to be done if the team hopes to remain in up come next year. Cedar Star on the other hand looks strong as ever as it prepares for its first ever U.S. Open Cup qualifying tournament game next weekend.
The two teams will be in action again this weekend as CSA takes on Lansdowne Yonkers FC on Saturday and NYAC faces off with New York Shamrock SC.
Doxa FC v. Sporting SC (2-0)
For it’s first game in the top flight Sporting SC traveled to face off against one of the one recent stables of the division, Doxa FC. A back and forth match was settled in the second half as the newcomers fell to the old guard, 2-0.
Sporting’s manager Ed Romero said after the match that despite the outcome, he and his team have a long season ahead of them to earn points.
“(We have) a lot of learning to do,” Romero said in an email. “ (It’s a) new division and plenty of new challenges (are) ahead.”
The two team styles were evident in the full match. While Sporting relied on holding possession and letting plays develop to get around defenders, Doxa focused on attacking the wings and crossing into the center where attackers could punch through the backline.
Doxa’s Andras Breuer put his team up in the second half when a Sporting defender was called for a handball in the box. The forward’s shot was slightly touched by the keeper but found the back of the net for his team to go up by one.
Earlier on in the half the Sporting offense got one of it’s best chances of the night when Don “Messi” Oba was left alone with the keeper in the Doxa box and got the ball. With defenders closing in his quick shot went wide of the net as his team’s offense struggled to get closer than that.
With time winding down, the home side prodded along and kept the pressure eventually leading to a game sealing goal. Federic Curbelo crossed the ball into the box and found Alex Tejera’s head which sent it slamming into the back netting.
“Sporting was an athletic team and very strong, they had a great opportunity but could not capitalize,” Doxa manager Peter Legakis said in an email after the game. “When we settled in and played our game in the second half our chances started to come.”
Doxa remains at home this Sunday as they take on the New York Greek Americans while Sporting looks to rebound against the Greeks in two weeks on Sunday, September 22.
New York Greek Americans v. New York Pancyprian Freedoms (6-5)
The 2018-19 Division 1 champs were on the road to wrap up the first weekend of play against one of last season’s semi-finalists. In the highest scoring match of the day, the defending eight-time league champion New York Pancyprian-Freedoms were defeated in a last minute stunner, 6-5, by the New York Greek Americans.
The two teams that combined for some of the least allowed last season opened the new year with highly offensive 90 minutes at the Metropolitan Oval. The home side Greek Americans were able to control the game early and finished on top even after the Freedoms found their fire as the last 45 wore on. Stephanos Hondrakis played hero has he leveled the score after the Freedoms took control and knocked in the game winner with almost no time left on the clock.
River Seybolt put the home side up by two early thanks to feeds by both Benjamin Marcu and Jerry Ozor respectively. Knowing the other team well and their ability to not let even when facing a deficit, the team didn’t let the momentum go to waste. The Greek's Jordan Schwartz quickly followed up with a third goal after a great pass from Ozor before his tea, went into the half up by three goals.
With his side rejuvenated, head coach Stratis Mastrokyriakos and his side began to make adjustments to push the game into their own favor. Three goals came in the first twenty minutes as the offense pushed the Greek American backline to the edge. Adam Himeno, who finished third last season in most goals league wide with 11, scored two to put his team back in the game before James Tristino made it level at three each. Like the home team did before, the visitors didn’t let momentum go to waste and took the lead midway through the second half when Luke Waechter found the back of the net.
Despite the change in pace the team was able to counter when Tyler Botte found Hondrakis for the equalizer. Even after the Freedoms were fouled in the box and Andreas Chronis sunk the penalty kick for another lead, Sabel found Angus Hastings to tie once more.
With time waning and only a minute after the equalizer, Seybolt passed to Hondrakis for his second goal of the day and to give the Greeks three points to start the season.
The Freedoms have this weekend off from league competition and return home to St. Johns University on Saturday, September 22 to take on Lansdowne Yonkers FC. The Greek Americans will be on the road this Sunday to take on Doxa FC.