Cedar Stars Academy captain Christopher Katona during a coin toss. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
By Ralph "Onz" Chery |@onz_11
May 2nd, 2018
Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona was nominated CSL Player of the Week for a league-leading fourth time this season after scoring a brace and tallying two assists in his side’s 6-0 victory over Zum Schneider F.C on Sunday.
When hearing that he's last week’s top performer, Katona expressed how grateful he is to play for Cedar Stars.
“Thankful every day for the opportunity coach Oliver [Papraniku] and coach Bujar [Gjata] provide me and the rest of the guys,” the 27-year-old said. “They do everything behind the scenes in preparing us for each game to compete by putting out the best players day in and day out.”
Katona went on to saying that his individual awards are nothing compared to the club’s current 10 consecutive clean sheets.
“As for recognition, I wish they did defensive player awards more often,” he said. “Engined by Bryan Lopez in net and Hani [Nasr], [Matt] Jeffery, Mitch [Lurie], Chris Riordan, Cody Calafiore, Sammy [Gehman], Joaquin [Escudero], and whomever else gets subbed on is always at the top of their game. To hold a clean sheet this many consecutive games is more impressive than any offensive awards this year.”
Cedar Stars Academy captain Christopher Katona praised keeper Bryan Lopez [in pic] and the defenders for the team's current 10 clean sheet run.
For his first assist, Katona skinned by two Zum defenders before unleashing a thirty-yard pass to Walter Calderon, who smoothly volleyed the ball to the right near post.
The New Jersey native has connected with Calderon on various occasions this season. Katona touched on his chemistry with the 21-year-old ex-New York Red Bulls youth player.
“I'm fortunate enough to play alongside of him [Calderon],” Katona said. “He's the best forward/playmaker I ever had the privilege to play with. He constantly is willing to learn and grow individually to help better everyone else around him. I look forward getting on the field with him every game I play.
“He makes the game so much easier for myself and everyone else. His vision, physicality on and off the ball, unselfishness, and finishing both right and left foot is a dream player for a coach. We've connected together day one and continue to build off of that.”
Calderon registered five goals and five assists in his first five CSL games. Katona ranked the El Salvaldor native the best current CSL player.
“He's by far the best player in the CSL and he's only 21. In my eyes, he should, could be starting in the MLS.”
Cedar Stars Academy forward Walter Calderon. Picture by Christopher Katona
Going back to Katona’s performance versus Zum, the midfielder spotted Matthieu Le Roux in the box with a short pass for his second assist.
“Looking at the stats on paper regarding goals and assists, I have always set out to assisting or creating opportunities for others first prior to scoring,” the CSA skipper said about sending his teammates on goal.
As for his goals, Katona managed to hit a shot in the net on a 50-50 with the opposing keeper from the top of the box to net his first goal. And for his second goal, the former Richard Stockton College star player side volleyed the ball to the bottom left corner from Michael Olla’s pass.
Katona scored in each of his last nine CSL games.
“Nine games in a row? Dang. I honestly think just being able to put myself in the right position,” the American answered when asked what’s the main factor behind his goal scoring display.
“At times I have the ability to create separation and go to net on my own and other times, playing with such talented players as Walter, Matt Nigro, Sammy, Hani, Jeffery, Chris it allows me to read what they're going to do and then create and position myself off of them.”
The attacking midfielder leads the league in scoring, recording 21 goals in 14 matches—10 more goals than the second top scorer.
Katona is pleased of his goal and assist tally but highlighted that winning is his main priority.
“Reflecting on the season thus far individually, I honestly can say I’m glad I’m able to contribute to the team consistently,” he said. “[But] as long as our team has one more goal than the opposing team, that's all that I care about.”
Junior Rosero [NY Greek American]-- 2 goals vs Central Park Rangers Whites in a 3-1 win
Mamadou Guirassy [Lansdowne Bhoys]-- 2 goals vs Doxa SC in a 2-0 win
Matthieu Le Roux [Cedar Stars Academy]-- 2 goals vs Zum Schneider F.C
Past player of the weeks
Week 1: Lansdowne Bhoys striker Ovan Oakley-- 2 goals, 1 assist vs Central Park Rangers Whites
Week 2: Cedar Stars Academy striker Paul Nittoli-- 2 goals vs NY Pancyprian Freedoms
Week 3: Central Park Rangers Whites midfielder Idy Watt-- 2 goals vs NY Athletic Club
Week 4: Manhattan Kickers striker Mahamadou "Remi" Diaby-- 2 goals, 1 assist vs NY Greek Americans
Week 5: NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Adam Himeno-- 1 goal, 1 assist vs NY Greek American
Week 6: NY Greek Americans left back Joseph Ruesgen-- 2 assists and a clean sheet vs Zum Schneider F.C 03
Week 7: Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona-- 3 goals, 3 assists vs Doxa SC
Week 8: Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona-- 2 goals, 2 assists vs Zum Schneider F.C
Week 9: Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona-- 6 goals vs Manhattan Kickers
Week 10: Central Park Rangers Whites midfielder James Greco-- 2 goals vs Doxa SC
Midwinter make-up round: NY Greek American midfielder Colin Murphy-- 2 goals vs NY Athletic Club
Week 11: NY Shamrock SC striker James Whyte-- 3 goals vs Zum Schneider FC
Week 12: NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Daniel Bedoya-- game-winning goal vs NY Shamrock SC
Week 13: NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Adam Himeno-- 3 goals vs NY Greek American
Week 14: Lansdowne Bhoys forward Mamadou Guirassy-- hat trick vs Manhattan Kickers
Week 15: Cedar Stars Academy goalkeeper Bryan Lopez-- 5 saves/clean sheet vs NY Pancyprian Freedoms