Lansdowne Yonkers FC head coach Jim Kelly and club vice president Aiden Corr welcome Chris Katona to the team (Credit: Lansdowne Yonkers FC)
Early last week, it was confirmed that two-time defending Cosmopolitan Soccer League Most Valuable Player Chris Katona had completed a transfer to fellow Division 1 side Lansdowne Yonkers FC. The Howell, New Jersey native leaves Cedar Stars Academy following two and a half seasons with the club including two appearances in the Division 1 Final, a regular season championship, and a goal during the 2020 U.S. Open Cup Qualification tournament.
Katona, who led the top flight in both goals and assists the past two seasons, said he’s eager to get started with the Yonkers side.
“I’m excited for the new chapter and opportunity Lansdowne presented me with,” Katona said in an email. “(They are) a first class organization that won several national championships over the previous years.”
“Having played against them the previous 2.5 seasons and some of the members being a part of our NPSL FC Motown squad, I’ve recognized their commitment, hard work ethic, and goal(s) in achieving success on the field.”
Now on his second Cosmopolitan League team, Katona also brings over experience from other major programs in the New York / New Jersey area.
Most notably, and previously mentioned, he currently plays with FC Motown of the National Premier Soccer League and has since 2018. In his first season there, he was named to the league’s best XI of the postseason as the Celtics won both the Keystone Conference (regular season and playoffs) and Northeast Region on route to the NPSL National Final. He also spent two seasons with the Garden State Soccer League's Jackson Lions FC and won league's Golden Boots each year with a total of 52 goals through 21 games.
(Pictured right: Katona poses with football legend Andrea Pirlo following a casual friendly between FC Motown and New York City FC - Credit: Chris Katona)
Since joining the CSL in 2017, Katona has scored 63 goals and assisted another 45 more in 45 games with Cedar Stars. During that time he was able to become the main producer on a squad that included professional talent such as Bljedi Bardic (New York Cosmos), Dilaver "Dilly" Duka (Major League Soccer & Albainian side FK Partizani Tirana), and current Inter Miami CF Academy coach Julius James among others.
The Stars reached the Division 1 league final in both 2018 and 2019, falling in penalty kick shootouts on both occasions. In addition, CSA won its first ever U.S. Open Cup Qualifying game earlier this year against the Jackson Lions with Katona scoring the opening goal.
The team wished their departing captain their best on Instagram last week, something Katona himself reciprocated in a statement to the league.
“I can’t thank Oliver (Papraniku) and Bujar (Gjata) enough for giving me the opportunity to play in the CSL,” he said. “Being captain, assistant coach, and leading the team to a 14-1-3 record the first season after them missing the playoffs the previous season was a good run.”
Prior to joining the CSL, Katona’s was a major player in lower division college soccer for his home state. After two years with Brookdale Community College, scoring 37 goals over two seasons and earning multiple honors including NSCAA First Team All-American in 2011, a cancer misdiagnosis caused kept him out of higher divisions.
“I wanted to sign D1, but I was considered dying and couldn’t sign a letter of intent,” Katona explained. “(It) sucked, but I believe everything happens for a reason.”
Instead, Katona transferred to Stockton University (then Stockton College) to pursue a Psychology degree in 2012.
As an Osprey, Katona became one of the school’s most proficient goalscorers. He led the team in his first season (15, the second most in the New Jersey Athletic Conference that year) and outdid that total in his senior year with 16 successful scores. His work in the NJAC earned him back-to-back conference first team honors in both 2012 and 2013.
In 2013, he helped lead Stockton to its third ever Eastern College Athletic Conference Metro Championship and was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Third Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Katona remains one of the programs most decorated athletes after only playing 44 games (two seasons), sitting in the Top 10 All-Time in Most Goals in a Single Season (16), Most Points in a Single Season (42), and Most Career Goals (31).
(Pictured left: Katona plays the ball against Montclair State University while in college - Credit: Stockton University Athletics)
Additionally, Katona is clinically deaf (with a total of 9% hearing) and has appeared for the U.S. Deaf Men’s National Team beginning with the World Deaf Football Championship in 2016.
Katona and Lansdowne had their first game together last Wednesday when competed in the Eastern New York semifinal of the Werner Fricker Open Amateur Cup against, coincidentally, Cedar Stars Academy. The Bhoys won, 2-0, with Katona getting field time, and now advance to the sectional final against the New York Pancyprian Freedoms tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 13) at James L Fleming Park for 8 PM.
CSL D1 action resumes this Sunday against the New York Greek Americans as Yonkers look to remain atop the D1 table while Katona looks to add onto his season total.