NY Greek Americans players before their match against Cedar Stars Academy on April 2nd. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
April 9th, 2017
With the help of six returned players, NY Greek Americans are swiftly becoming an elite club again as they own a six-game unbeaten run and are fresh off a 5-1 win over CSL giants Cedar Stars Academy.
The returnee-energized side will face the biggest challenge of their reconstruction Sunday night as they play second placed Shamrock SC in the semifinal of the Manning Cup at 9:00 p.m. home at the Metropolitan Oval.
The list of the returned players during the winter break includes Stephen Roche, Shaun Foster, Jimmy Nealis—three players who left the club for three-time CSL reigning champions Lansdowne Bhoys—Daniel Gwyther, Joe Ruesgen and Stephen Megaloudis. All of the returnees were part of the Greek side that won the National Amateur Cup in 2014.
NY Greek Americans returned player Jimmy Nealis. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Roche, who is a former League of Ireland player and Lansdowne championship team captain, scored six goals in his first two games back with NYGA. The 30-year-old expressed how pleasing it is to play for NY Greeks again.
“I’m very happy to be back, this is my second spell with the Greeks. I was here a couple of years ago. I’m very happy to be back,” Roche said after a four-goal performance against CSA on Sunday.
He later added: “We’re [him and the other the new signings] gelling very quickly so I’m happy to be here.”
NYGA head coach Richard Nitall noted that the players returned to the club because of their history and their welcoming aspect.
“The Greeks got a great deal of history. If we show commitment to training and we have good training session and they enjoy it so they want to come back they want to train, they want to play,” Nitall said.
“I think it’s just a combination of the friendly atmosphere and the commitment here, we’re very hospitable, we have a great atmosphere in the training room, we’re wonderful people, it’s just an enjoyable group to be with.”
NY Greek Americans returnee Stephen Megaloudis. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
The Greeks were one of the most prestigious amateur team in the country three years ago during the returnees’ first spell with the club. They won the National Amateur Cup in 2014 and four CSL titles from 2004 to 2011.
Only a year after winning the National Amateur Cup and after the returnees had left the team, NYGA hit a downfall as they finished the 2015-16 season in eighth place and the first half of this season in the same position.
NY Greeks’ rise back to their glory days started toward the end of the Fall season when head coach Richard Nutall made a plethora of new signings, which didn’t include the six returnees yet.
The new look NYGA team edged Long Island Football Soccer League side Forest Park 4-3 in the Round of 16 of the Manning cup on Nov. 13th before upsetting Cedar Stars 5-3 in the quarterfinal on Dec. 4th. They also drew with Lansdowne 1-1 in their last league-game of the Fall season.
The six returnees then joined the team during the winter break and since then NYGA are on a 2-0 record through a 3-2 victory over Doxa SC and a 5-1 win over CSA.
The winner of Sunday’s match will face Lansdowne in the final.