Top 10 CSL Under-23 Players

By Ralph 'Onz' Chery

Cedar Stars Academy player Josue Ortiz after pulling off a scorpion kick against NY Pancyprian Freedoms. Photo by Devaughn Clasp

 

By Ralph "Onz" Chery | @onz_11

April 8th, 2018

 

Youngblood is the word around the Cosmopolitan Soccer League this season. The CSL is glistenning with some of the best young talents the league has seen in years.

In fact, NY Shamrock SC’s—a team battling to make the playoffs—goalkeeper is a teenager. A 21-year-old had a hand in all the three goals of amateur champions Lansdowne Bhoys' shocking 3-0 loss to Cedar Stars and NY Greek American clinched the Manning State Cup’s semis over Shamrocks with two goals from a college kid who probably had an early class the next morning.

With this eruption of starlets in the CSL, one question comes to mind: who’s the most talented youngster in the league?  

As the youngbloods are still getting used to catching a drink with their teammates, the league’s top division reporter Ralph "Onz" Chery rounded them off to the top 10 under-23 CSL player:  

 

10. Josue Ortiz-- 21-year-old 

Cedar Stars Academy player Josue Ortiz after pulling off a scorpion kick against NY Pancyprian Freedoms. Photo by Devaughn Clasp

 

Team: Cedar Stars Academy

Position: Forward, Midfield

 

Josue Ortiz isn’t a starter in Cedar Stars Academy’s first team but still managed to be the second best under-23 goalscorer in the league, tallying three goals. As of October 22nd of last year, the Dominican Republic native was Cedar’s top scorer, a team made of former or current college star players and ex-professionals.

Ortiz played in the 2016 CSL final against Lansdowne at 19, which CSA lost 3-0, and helped the Stars win the 2018 CSL Indoor Tournament by providing the game-winning assist in the final against Manhattan Celtic.

 

9. Idy Watt-- 21-year-old 

NY Shamrock SC midfielder Idy Watt in his time with Central Park Rangers. Picture by Andrew Faherty

 

Team: NY Shamrock SC

Position: Winger, Attacking midfielder

 

NY Shamrock SC midfielder Idy Watt is the only under-23 player to be nominated Player of the Week in the modern era. Watt won the accolade in the third week for scoring a brace against NY Athletic Club in a 3-0 victory when he was playing for Central Park Rangers earlier this season.

The Senegalese didn’t stop showcasing his talent when he left Central Park, Watt provided a game-winning assist in his first match with the Rocks against second placed NY Pancyprian Freedoms.

 

8. Gianfranco Barone-- 19-year-old 

NY Shamrock SC keeper Gianfranco Barone trained with A.S Roma when he was in high school.

 

Team: NY Shamrock SC

Position: Goalkeeper

 

Out of all positions, goalkeeper is the position who has the youngest player in the standings. No need to emphasize that Gianfranco Barone is a player to keep an eye on. One of Barone’s best performances this season was when he racked four saves against CSL champions NY Greek Americans to carry his side to a 1-1 draw.

The New York native played one season with Stony Brook in 2016. According to Stony Brook Athletics, Barone was a Top Drawer Soccer four-star recruit and practiced with Italian sides Roma, Fiorentina when he was in 11th and 12th grade.

 

7. Danny Elliott--  22-year-old

NY Greek American player Danny Elliott on the ball with his former college team Hofstra University. Hofstra Athletics Images

 

Team: NY Greek American

Position: Forward, Midfielder

 

Danny Elliott was unarguably the most productive under-23 CSL player in the cup actions in the first half of the season. Elliot scored a double in the Manning State Cup quarterfinals to inspire NY Greeks to a 2-0 win and scored a penalty in the NYGA’ 6-5 PK win over NY Pancyprians in the ENY Amateur Cup final.

The England native netted one goal in the league. And as for the collegiate level, Elliott captained Hofstra University in the 2017 season during his senior year and led the team in assists and was the second top scorer, tallying three in each comportments in 18 games.  

Sadly, the NY Greeks prodigy is out for six months with a broken kneecap.

 

6. David Nigro--  22-year-old 

David Nigro in a game with Monmouth University. Monmouth Athletics Images

 

Team: TBA

Position: Forward

 

David Nigro had one of the most successful collegiate careers in the league. Nigro made the All-MAAC First Team and Championship Team twice while playing for Monmouth University and led the school in goals (5) and assists (8) during his senior year.

The New Jersey native’s high attacking IQ was a domnating force for Lansdowne Bhoys off the bench in the first half of the season, however Nigro never scored for the club. The closest he came was in the Eastern NY Amateur Cup final against NY Greek American, hittong a cross-shot off the post. Lansdowne lost that game in penalties after a scoreless draw.

 

5. Junior Rosero--  22-year-old

NY Greek American striker Tyler Botte [number 5] exchanging a handshake with Junior Rosero. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis

 

Team: NY Greek American

Position: Forward, Midfield

 

Junior Rosero had a lucrative collegiate career with Sienna College. The forward was Sienna’s top scorer and assistman and netted three game-winning goals for the school. Rosero didn’t take part in many of the Greeks’ game so far in his first CSL season but when he did he showed what he’s made of.

The 22-year-old scored one goal in the CSL. And one of his most memorable cup game was in the Manning Cup’s first round when he racked two assists and had a game high of 10 shots versus NY Serbia.

 

4. Joaquin Escudero--  21-year-old

 

Joaquin Escudero in a game with F.C Motown.

 

Team: Cedar Stars Academy

Position: Left back, Left wing, Forward

 

Joaquin Escudero played for some of the most prominent youth teams in his home country Spain: Antiguoko, a club various ex and current professional Spaniard footballers played for, as Xabi Alonso Mikel Arteta and Artiz Aduriz. Escudero also played for UD San Sebastian de los Reyes U-19 squad, a team that’s in one of the most competitive youth leagues in Spain and is affiliated with Spanish professional club Real Sociedad.

At 21 years of age Escuerdo is a regular in the second placed CSL team Cedar Stars’ backline. The Spaniard is also a key player for NPSL powerhouse F.C Motown, Cedar's sister club.

Escudero’s primary position is left back but he’s also able to play up top or on the left wing as he does for his school Caldwell University. The youngster led his school in assists and goals last season in his junior year. Escudero netted his first CSL goal of the season on Friday against Shamrocks.

 

3. Walter Calderon--  21-year-old

 

Team: Cedar Stars Academy

Position: Forward. Midfield

 

Former NY Red Bulls U-18 player Walter Calderon made a name for himself in the CSL in just three matches. In his CSL first game, Calderon had an assist against Central Park Rangers Whites and almost scored as he banged a shot from outside the box off the crossbar. In his second outing, the El Salvador native netted his first CSL goal and tallied two assists against amateur champions Lansdowne Bhoys. Calderon scored again in his third CSL in a game versus the Rocks. 

The CSL isn’t the only league the forward put up dashing performances in. Back in his days with Red Bulls U-18, Calderon once scored a hat trick and provided an assist against F.C Delco on May 13, 2015.

More recently on Friday, the 21-year-old scored a hat trick for his GSSL club Jackson Lions F.C against Jersey Shore Boca Jr, FC in the USASA Region I qualifiers semifinal.

 

2. Mamadou Guirassy--  22-year-old

 

Lansdowne Bhoys striker Mamadou Guirassy standing next to one of the club's board members Aiden Corr. Lansdowne Bhoys Images

 

Team: Lansdowne Bhoys

Position: Forward

 

Mamadou Guirassy was the NCAA Division I 2017 Golden Boot winner, tallying 16 goals in 18 games for New Jersey Institute of Technology. Guirassy was drafted by the Portland Timbers in the fourth round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.

The France native is an all-around forward, standing at 6’ 1’’, he’s a reliable target for crosses or long balls. Guirassy’s only goal in his three MLS Combine games was a header and he finished fourth in the vertical jump test at 31.5 inches.

Despite his height, the 22-year-old is not heavy on his feet as he also tied for fourth place in the MLS Combine’s speed test, running 30 meter in 3.9 seconds.

Guirassy leads the under-23 players in scoring, tallying seven goals for the Bhoys in eight appearances in his first CSL season.  

 

1. Pantelis Konomis-- 22-year-old

NY Pancyprian Freedoms center back Pantelis Konomis when he was playing for Omonia Aradippou in Cyprus.

 

Pantelis Konomis became a professional player in Europe, in Cyprus to be exact, at 17 years of age as a center back. His first club was Alki Lanarka. Konomis played in ten games for Alki in the 2013-14 season before making a big move to the second most successful Cypriot club Omonia, where he only made three appearances. The team sent him on loan to second division side Omonia Aradippou. Konomis appeared in 49 matches for Aradippou from 2015 to 2017.

A year later, the defender signed with CSL’s Cypriot club NY Pancyprian Freedoms. Konomis has two CSL games under his belt: a 2-1 win versus Shamrocks and a 3-1 victory over NY Greek. Pancyprians veteran defender Panayiotis Onisiforou was impressed by the youngster’s performance against the Greeks.

“He won all the headers,” Onisiforou said, “showed a good turn of pace and good decision making by winning the ball and playing simple, nothing flashy, good defending one-on-one, a great prospect and has the potential to be the best center back in the league.”

Konomis is a center back with eyes for goals as he netted three times in eight outings for Omonia Nicosia in the 2014-15 season and had a shot cleared off the line against the Greeks.

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