February 8, 0213
HOPING THEIR CUPS RUNNETH OVER
CSL roundup: Greek-American Atlas eyeing several championships, cup titles this season
By Jay Mwamba
|Former Red Bulls forward Chris Megaloudis has been a key performer for Greek-American Atlas this season.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
What do you get when you meld some of the best non-Major League Soccer players in the metropolitan area with a seasoned international forward who’s cut his teeth in World Cup qualifiers?
A perennial Cosmopolitan Soccer League powerhouse.
General manager George Mellis has long touted New York Greek-American Atlas’ talent, calling it second to none in the league – if not the entire New York area. Few can dispute the veteran official’s assertion as the eight-time CSL champs put up an impressive defense of their latest title won last June.
Led by the powerful Chris Megaloudis, the former Red Bull and current Puerto Rican international striker with goals to his credit from World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF, Atlas went into the winter break with an 8-1-1 record atop the East standings in the CSL First Division.
They are six points clear of New York Athletic Club and with six games remaining in the spring, and third place Jersey City Eagles a further 10 points adrift, a playoff berth appears inevitable.
“We’re obviously very happy with the season so far, we’re top of our [division] at the winter break and have played some fantastic stuff,” player and co-coach Joe Ruesgen said
And that’s not to mention the early silverware bagged by the Greeks in the fall: the Sal Rapaglia Super Cup champions clinched at the expense of Forest Park [3-1], and the U.S. Amateur National Cup ENY trophy, bagged courtesy of English defender Shaun Foster’s solitary strike against Jersey City [1-0].
Atlas is also in the semifinals of the Dr. Manning Cup, the statewide competition that, surprisingly, the four-time Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup winners have lifted just once in their history. They meet United FC in the last four.
“Winning the Sal Rapaglia Cup, with what would be considered a weakened squad, and then winning the ENY US Amateur Cup, one of our main priorities, were two of the main highlights of the season so far,” remarked Ruesgen.
It was his free kick that set up Foster, a Hofstra University standout, for the winner in the latter final at Mitchell Field.
In his rookie year as co-coach alongside the more experienced Michael Megaloudis (Chris’ father), Ruesgen admitted to a little pre-season uncertainty over how this campaign would unfold following changes both on the technical bench and on the field.
The Scottish transplant and Megaloudis were tapped to replace Michael Todd, the club’s English player-coach the last couple of years who had to given up the coaching position because of other commitments.
“We were a little unsure how the season would go as we felt it would be a big transition with coaching staff and player changes, but it has been business as usual for us," Ruesgen said. "We were able to return the main core of the previous season's team and managed to draft in some real top class players that have contributed greatly to the team on and off the field.”
In addition to Chris Megaloudis, Atlas was at various times during the fall able to call on such notable performers with Long Island Rough Rider roots as forward Keith Detelj, defender William Hole, midfielder Ben Arikian, goalkeeper Thomas Booth and Thomas Wharf, another defender from England.
The free scoring Josh Trott, who returned from a lengthy injury in December, is another major asset upfront.
“We have a great group of guys that are dedicated, hard working, and proud to be a part of the Greek-American Atlas organization,” Ruesgen said. "I think it is this that forms the backbone of our success.”
With such talent, the Greeks cannot go wrong.
“We have always been able to field a very strong starting XI. We have struggled sometimes getting a full squad, but our squad depth is such that we are always able to field a very competitive starting team,” Ruesgen said.
Ruesgen singled out his key performers, starting with Atlas’ hottest player this season.
“Although there has been loads of players who have stood out in certain games, particular praise has to be given to certain individuals who have been models of consistency throughout the season," he said.
“Mega is obviously one of them, his goals, assists and performances have been pivotal to our success and he is a constant threat for oppositions. His partnership with Keith Detelj was superb and they would have continued to dominate had Keith not badly injured his knee.
“Christian Camacho has been a bull for us in the midfield with his work ethic and blend of tackling and intelligent distribution have led him to become arguably the most dominant center midfielder in the league.
“Finally, I think Nick Viaggio has been very much an unsung hero. He has played in numerous positions for us and has really given his all for the team. He is a hardworking, tough defender who is also a threat from set pieces with his aerial ability.”
This combined talent now has the Greeks on the hunt for a trifecta of honors this season: a ninth CSL title, the Manning Cup and the U.S. Men’s Amateur Cup.
Still, Ruesgen acknowledged that there is a lot more football to be played and that nothing is guaranteed.
“We do understand though that we are only half way to our ultimate goal and [we] will continue to strengthen and work hard in the second half of the season,” he said.
CSL’s 2013 indoor tournament is scheduled for March 3 at the SuperDome, 134 Hooper Avenue, Waldwick, N.J. It runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Teams can compete in the six-a-side Premier category or the seven-a-side Open and Over-30 division. All games in the run up to the final will be 14 minutes in duration. The final will be 18 minutes.
There is a $1,000 cash prize for the Premier winner.
For more information or enter to the tournament, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.