New York Athletic Club Reserves 4 NY Greek American Reserves 3 3/17/13

New York Athletic Club Reserves 4 NY Greek American Reserves 3 3/17/13

Game 35 (Game 3 Season 2)

New York Athletic Club Reserves   4
NY Greek American Reserves         3

USASA (CSL First Division Reserve League) (5th Division)
3/17/13 6:00 PM
MetOval  Maspeth, Queens, NY
Attendance: 6

Both squads huddling up before the game.  For Warmth.

I departed Bayville full of enthusiasm, but with a smidgen of mixed emotions, as I really wanted to get over to check out the United German Hungarians stadium back toward Philly, but with a 2:30 kick and over an hours drive between I knew from the get that it was an either/or proposition.  I’ll just have to save that for next time.  I definitely feel I made the right decision as US Open Cup games take precedence.  I’ll get over there this year for sure.  As nice as the UGH stadium appears, it is not the Mecca, (perhaps more properly the desert, but please, 5% doctrine aside) the Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth, Queens, New York is a truly historic site.  Originally opened in 1925, it has been in continuous operation since.  If you want to read more about the history of the stadium, check out Cesar Diaz piece here.  I had the good fortune of meeting Cesar last summer at The Football Factory.  He is another active soccer culture writer, as well as heavily involved in the Borough Boys Cosmos supporter group, and the NYC Loggers, a Timbers SG.

I was at the mercy of a quickly failing cell phone battery for my GPS needs, and due to years of smoking all sorts of things, (which ended in August 2011, thank you very much!) my lighter port does not accept car chargers.  Carefully monitoring what could potentially become a very difficult situation as I approached New York with a blinking battery light, and no clue how to get to my destination without the aid of my device.  I vigorously rationed power, turning the phone off for any distance between maneuvers in excess of 4 miles, and eventually found myself with a 10% alert staring at me as I deathgripped my way through the Lincoln Tunnel.  Why anyone would have a tunnel with two way traffic and no divider in each bore is beyond me, but somehow I made it through and found myself on 42nd St. and 9th Ave. with the direction to continue right across Manhattan to 2nd Ave. and hop on a highway, I think It was the BQE.  One would think there would be a better way to go than through Manhattan and out, but I was not in a position to argue as I simultaneously battled cabs, midtown pedestrians, and the ever-present threat of abandonment by my navigation device.  Through some miracle I was able to emerge from Manhattan, make my way through a maze of nondescript warehouses in Queens, and arrive at my destination with an hour to spare before the first match, and about 2 minutes of juice on my phone.  After a stellar 18 point parallel park (not my thing)  I left the car on the street and had to kind of feel around for the entrance to the Met Oval itself.  You cant see the field from the street, and have to walk through a chain link fence and alley to get there, so it feels like your trespassing, but 20 yards later the alley opens up into a large dirt parking lot and there before me was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  A classic, old time, single soccer field, beneath a natural grass embankment on one end, bleachers to the right, and the back of a row of triple decker’s fencing it in the left.    Directly ahead behind the far goal, you can see the Manhattan skyline in all its majesty looming over the top of a fence directly abutting an industrial zone.  You can feel the history in the air, and the power of the souls of generations who played the game in the city over the last 90 years.  There was a youth team finishing up practice, and I turned back for the street, looking for a place to catch a charge.

See those old guys huddling by the window?  That’s NYGAA upper management.

Just up at the end of 60th Street there was a Dunkin Donuts.  I got myself my customary extra large French vanilla regular, and plugged my phone into the outlet for the ATM machine.  There was a large, apparently a little bit slow man, a regular, who sat by the door named Joe, and when everybody came in they said hi to him.  Apparently he’s a neighborhood institution, all of which is good, except for the next hour I heard the line “Happy St, Patricks Day! Tis the day for the wearing for the wearing of the green!” at least 20 times.  Its all good though, kept me alert, and before long it was time to round up my electronics and head back to the field for the Reserve game between New York Greek American Atlas and New York Athletic Club.  Both clubs have a long history of playing top level amateur soccer in the legendary Cosmopolitan Soccer League, New York City’s premier league.  DITP is no stranger to either club, as last year we saw NYGAA defeat Massachusetts club Battery Park Gunners in the first round of the US Open CupRegion I tournament, at Randall’s Island, and NYAC fall to the same BPG squadin the Region I Amateur Cup in Franklin, MA last spring.

This is why I do this.

The CSL is unique among 5th Division leagues in that they field a full Reserve Division, in addition to a First Team, and not only that, but they duplicate the feat for two whole divisions, before the reserves team disappear in the third and fourth division (Metro 1 and Metro 2, respectively) That’s six leagues of senior level men’s amateur competition, and that doesn’t even include age group Over 30 teams, of which the big clubs field sides in too!  Now, in Boston, some teams do field Reserve teams, but they just play in the same integrated three-league pyramid.  The level of play in the Reserve league game was consistently high, probably comparable to the second division of the BSSL, and the only noticeable differences between this game the following first team game was the tendency of the defense to hoof it out the back instead of playing it on the deck, the shoddy goalkeeping, and the absence of linesmen.  There was just a referee to manage the whole game.  NYAC opened the scoring in what turned out to be a remarkably clean game with a beautiful goal off a set piece from the top right corner just outside the box.  They then extended the lead to 2-0 a few minutes later with a header off a corner.  As the half drew to a close, Greek American got on the board with a break off a long ball counter as a result of a blocked NYAC set piece caroming off the wall at the other end, then immediately, 1 minute later followed with a nice cross on the deck the Greeks slid in from point blank rang to tie the score at 2.

This is the crew of first teamer’s whistled for sideline encroachment

At the half I ran to the car to get my Rebellion supporters scarf because it was getting ridiculously cold.  The first team players were starting to arrive, and to the untrained eye, it could appear that there was a sizable crowd in attendance as the players made their way down to the field level and gathered at the end of the bleachers.  Some stayed up top by the lot though, and I got one of the NYAC players, who could not hide the expression of bewilderment on his face that I chose to be out in the freezing cold watching lower division soccer on my Sunday nights, to take a couple pictures of me standing on the 3 row bleachers built into the embankment behind the goal.  The second half kicked off, and NYAC scored the next goal, by far the most picturesque of the game, after a string of three tiki-taka Barcelona-esque passes on the deck before slotting it home on the ground on the right side of the goal.  Greek responded about 10 minutes later with a nice hot to the upper left corner from about 15 yards out, to tie the game.  By this time it was about 80 minutes into the game, and the NYAC first teamers who had gathered on the bleachers in the corner were making a little noise, and I guess maybe getting a little close to the sideline, but it certainly wasn’t enough for the ref to blow the whistle and issue a bench warning, which was exactly what he did.  Undoubtedly this was more out of boredom than necessity, which is particularly confounding because it was such a cracker of a goal fest!  Anyway, two minutes from time NYAC hit a strike from the left side eight yards out over the keepers left shoulder.  It proved to be the game winner with the final score 4-3 in favor of NYAC Reserves.  At this point I was freezing, so I headed back to the car for 15 minutes to warm up before the first team game kicked off.

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