Rivals one day, looking to make history with Motown another, CSL players are thriving in the NPSL

By Ralph 'Onz' Chery

F.C Motown teammates Daryl Kavanagh (Lansdowne Bhoys player on the right) and Sammy Gehman (Cedar Stars Academy player on the left) going against each other in the 2018 CSL final. Photo by David DuPuy

 

By Ralph 'Onz' Chery |@onz_11

July 27, 2018

 

NPSL side F.C Motown is munching on the most eminent season in their six-year of existence. In early June, Motown was the number one ranked NPSL club in the nation, they topped the Keystone Conference Division with a 9-1-0 record, three of their players made the Northeast All-Region team, Dilly Duka, Hani Nasr and Matt Nigro and last but not least, they overpowered the historical New York Cosmos’ second team 3-2 to bag the Northeast Region trophy.

But wait, what does that have to do with the CSL? Despite Julius James, all of the Celtics’ starters in their notable win over Cosmos B are current CSL players. The New Jersey based club, which really is Cedar Stars Academy's sister team, have a total of 26 registered CSL players in their 40-man roster.

“We [CSLers] all have our own stories of how we ended up where we are,” left back Andreas Chronis, the lone NY Pancyprian Freedoms player at Motown, said, “and over the years have played against each other, and as teammates in the CSL.

“This scenario unites us without jeopardizing the loyalty we have for the various clubs we play for throughout the year. I’m really happy to be on the same field with this amazing group of guys, and especially happy to win titles with them.”

 

New York Pancyprian Freedoms left midfielder and F.C Motown left back Andreas Chronis warming up with the Freedoms. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis

 

The 26 CSLers at Motown are spread in three different CSL teams—three teams that have played in some vicious battles against each other—Cedar Stars, Lansdowne Bhoys and NY Pancyprian.

Lansdowne and the Stars have built one of the fiercest rivalries in the CSL in recent years. The two clubs met twice in the final in the past three seasons. The Bhoys blanked CSA 3-0 in the 2016 final and edged them in penalties in last season's final after tying the match with a controversial 90th minute penalty.

Despite the growing rivalry between the two clubs, the beautiful game strikes again with unconditional camaraderie: three Lansdowne players compete alongside a sea of 22 Cedar players, their captain Sean Kelly, keeper Abdoukarim ‘Kabo’ Danso and veteran striker Daryl Kavanagh.

Of course the players didn’t forget about the rivalry.

“We talked about that sometimes. I trash talk about how I beat them twice in the CSL final,” Kabo joked.

But whatever happened in the CSL doesn’t go to Motown.

When we wear the Motown jersey it’s all about winning with Motown so we put those things aside and put our heads in the NPSL,” the big keeper continued.

 

Lansdowne Bhoys and F.C Motown keeper Abdoukarim 'Kabo' Danso.

 

The Lansdowne-CSA connection at Motown produced two goals in the Northeast Regional semifinal versus F.C Baltimore. Kavanagh scored a brace from Cedar’s youngster Walter Calderon and veteran midfielder Dilly Duka's passes.

As mentioned the Celtics went on to power past Cosmos B 3-2 in the Northeast final with goals from 2018 CSL MVP Christopher Katona, Duka and Calderon to earn a trip to the national semis.

 

F.C Motown players, coaches and fans posing with the 2018 Northeast Region trophy. F.C Motown Images

 

Reaching this far in the NPSL is nothing new for F.C.M. The club made it to the national semifinal in 2016 but lost to eventual champions A.F.C Cleveland. And last season they fell to the eventual champions again, losing to Elm City Express 3-1 in the Northeast Regional final.

Motown and CSA defender Chris Riordan feels like this season all the pieces of the puzzle are where they need to be to finally take the NPSL national trophy home.

“For the past three years I think we’ve had strong teams in the NPSL and have come close to winning the whole thing,” Riordan said. “It looks like this year everything is coming together in the right way so hopefully this time will finally be our year to win.

But we know we have two tough games left against teams that are talented and hungry to win. So it’s not going to be easy.

The Celtics’ opponent in the national semifinal is F.C.M Portland, a team that scored eight goals away from home in their last two matches to reach this stage of the season.

A win versus Portland will grant Sacir Hot’s men their first ever trip to the NPSL national final. Chronis understands how crucial this upcoming game is.

Definitely a huge game for us,” he said. “I’m treating it like the World Cup semi-finals, because at this point in my life, that’s exactly what it is to me. I feel bad for F.C.M Portland, because they are going to play against a bunch of guys that have something to prove.”

The match will take place at the Celtics’ home, Drew University, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The CSL will be rooting for Motown, there’s just too many familiar faces on that team.

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