Sept. 9th, 2017
The CSL’s second division is a transitional zone. Talented new teams rise up through the Metro divisions and grow into their own. The league’s old guard of well-established clubs meet them here in the second tier. Only one step removed from the top flight, who’s Lansdowne Bhoys, just won two national titles this summer. The second division is brimming with talent on the cusp of some of the best amateur soccer in the country.
The teams that will compete in the second division's southern region this year are: newly promoted Williamsburg International, a team who won the Metro 2 and the Metro 1 in the last two years; Polonia Gwardia NY, a club that was just relegated from D1, Stal Mielec NY and their old rivals NY Ukrainian SC; CD Iberia, Panatha USA, FC Japan and New-Jersey based clubs Hoboken F.C and Beyond F.C.
Who will take the D2 crown and earn the right to test themselves against the best amateur clubs in America next season? We take you through a team-by-team analysis of the CSL’s D2 South.
Media savvy Beyond F.C, after a 2014 rebrand, has quickly moved on from their Dutch roots as New Amsterdam F.C and have become a self-described “club, a platform, and a journey… a home and inspiration to men’s and women’s amateur soccer teams competing in various soccer leagues in and around New York City.” With more than 6,000 members across the New York Metro area, the D2 side has been slower to realize the club’s potential. In the past 5 years they have struggled to move past mid-table. They’ll be looking to move beyond a disappointing seventh place finish in their conference last year.
Club Deportivo Iberia
Club Deportivo Iberia, the historic Spanish-side of the Cosmo League, founded in 1967, is celebrating 50 years this season. The team has lost some luster since declining promotion after a 2013-14 Division 2 title. Hence, team management placed the weight of history on the team this year declaring: “In what is its 50th anniversary (1967) there is desire and enthusiasm to face what will be a historic and very exciting season. New signings will be incorporated little by little to the group and will become official in the month of August. The season hasn’t yet started, but the enthusiasm and the desire to defend the shield for another year more are more present than ever.”
The largest New-York based Japanese-American soccer club has been playing competitively since 1992. In recent years the club has been long on pride and honor but short on victory as they’ve been at the bottom of the table since an 8th place finish in 2013. However, the Japanese are coming off an early September joint training session with Manhattan United and AC Rosso at East River Park and bring in a committed group that's focused on improving upon their results this year.
CSL League Secretary Bill Marth’s club, Hoboken FC and Polonia Gwardia NY have traded spots back and forth in D1 and D2 over the past four years and this will be the first time since 2013 that the two sides have been in the same division, when they finished second and third respectively. Hoboken, founded in 1912, is one of the oldest clubs in the country, a history that Marth opened up about in an interview with American Pyramid Blog. Each year since 2013 that they’ve been in the second division, they’ve finished no lower than fourth and they should expect to be in the conversation again in 2018.
NY Ukrainian SC
Not to be outdone by their Spanish rivals, NY Ukrainian SC are celebrating the 70th anniversary of their club’s founding in 1947. The Ukrainians have largely been one of the solid mid-table sides in the second division. Club Manager and local soccer icon Steve Kovalenko (inducted into the Eastern New York State Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011) keeps the side well organized and they are always difficult to play against. However, the closest they’ve come in recent years to a title was a 2014-15 third place finish behind only NY Polonia and NY Shamrock, just missing out on promotion to D1. The first team did make a great run this spring, going undefeated in league play and making it all the way to the State Cup Final where they took home silver medals after being defeated by CPR Whites. You can be sure that the Ukrainians would relish commemorating their 70th season with a shiny new CSL trophy.
Panatha USA F.C
The Celtic Greek fan club, Panathanaikos USA, has been rallying expatriates to the clover for the upcoming Cosmo League season. Content with his side’s play during their seventh place campaign last season, club founder, Nikos Bardis, spent the summer recruiting new talent to join the team. “Panatha USA’s door is open to any player from 18 years of age and older who wants to be tested,” said Bardes. Team captain, Christoforos Petropoulos, has been working hard to set an example for the club. With new recruits, a little bit of luck, and a fresh start, could this be the year that Panatha USA jump up the table?
Polonia Gwardia NY
Polonia Gwardia NY is coming of a run of two seasons in the CSL’s top flight. While they were surely disappointed by a rough one win season in 2016-17, the experience of playing against top level opponents week-in and week-out should leave the Polish side well equipped to see their way through a tough second division slate. The Williamsburg-based Polish club was last seen topping their group in the XXVII Annual Kazimierz Deyna Memorial Tournament in Hope NJ with 3 wins in 3 matches against Polish clubs from around the region, Club President Michał Siwiec’s men should be up to battle for the D2 title and a trip back up to the top flight.
Stal Mielec NY
The ‘other’ Polish club in the second division, Stal Mielec, spent two seasons in the CSL’s top flight as recently as 2013 – 2015 and the side finished in third position last season, just behind Hoboken FC and Manhattan Kickers, who were promoted to D1. The team returns the majority of its players from last year’s successful season. Eight new faces have been added to the squad including two former juniors from Stal Mielec, a hometown club from the Polish second tier. Club management was proud to note that “the number of players from Mielec in the team has not been so good since the club was founded!” It would not be surprising to see Stal challenge their Polish rivals for the top spot this season.
Williamsburg International F.C
Upstarts Williamsburg International have gotten comfortable winning trophies as they followed up their Metro 2 championship in 2015-16 by coasting to a Metro 1 trophy in 2016-17. The club kept its core intact from both championship seasons. However, the losses of Andreas and Nunzio Moudatsos, who’ve been with the team since 2011 will loom large. The Doylies rarely fail to find the back of the net, but it will be a challenge to reproduce Andreas’ incredible production of 76 goals and 30 assists in 70 CSL appearances since 2013. The club does return a lot of offensive firepower and will be eager to show they belong in the second division. Will Williamsburg be satisfied to compete in D2 or will their run carry them on to a third title?