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MEFC Prepares for the 2012 Canadian Soccer League Season with Renewed Determination
original publication date:05/05/12
By almost any measure, the inaugural season for the Mississauga Eagles Football Club (MEFC) in the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) in 2011 was a huge success. The MEFC First Team made the playoffs, despite seeing a number of their players signed to contracts to perform in Europe throughout the course of the CSL season. Also, MEFC’s Reserve side won the CSL Division II championship, a tremendous achievement for the first-year franchise.
However, the expectations are even higher this season, according to the man who oversees the MEFC program, Josef Komlodi.
Soccer veteran Komlodi, originally from Hungary, has been spearheading youth soccer initiatives in the Mississauga area for over twenty years. He is also the long-time Technical Director of the Erin Mills Soccer Club (EMSC) that is affiliated with MEFC, and this season he has moved from the sidelines to more of a management role, hiring long-time EMSC associate Alex Szczotka to handle the First Team. He has great faith that highly-respected Szczotka, who was Komlodi’s lead assistant a season ago, is the right man for the position. “Alex is an outstanding teacher and coach. He has developed many of the players from our program over the years that have gone on to play at higher levels, including professionally in Europe. He is the right person for the job”.
For his part, Szczotka says the organization learned a lot in its first season in the CSL, and will build on that heading into the new season. “Last year, our Reserve team played good soccer, with possession, movement and smart passing. They had the right attitude as well. They had a great work ethic and played well together as a unit. Many of those players have now been promoted to our First Team, and I think this season we will see a better attitude and approach from our senior squad. The League is stronger this year, so the competition will be even tougher. We will be a young group that is more united, with more of a team orientation”.
In 2011, MEFC finished the season with a record of 13 wins, 10 losses and 3 draws in the First Division, good for 7th place in the 14-team league. Importantly, the squad was comprised of primarily local talent, young men who had played in Erin Mills/Mississauga in their formative years. That won’t change this season, according to MEFC President and General Manager Susan Rossiter. “The majority of our players signed to professional contracts will be youngsters who have been groomed in our local player development system. We’re proud of our ability to train and develop elite players within EMSC, and now MEFC. Also, most of our players will give back to the community by coaching youth teams in our area. They have the opportunity to be a positive influence on a new generation of players, both boys and girls, who aspire to play at a high level in the game”.
Both the First Team and Reserve squads have looked impressive in their pre-season matches this spring. The Reserve side opens its season May 6 against the York Region Shooters at Joan of Arc field, while the First Team kicks off its 2012 slate with a game on May 11, hosting the North York Astros.
Says Komlodi, “We have two central objectives that we always focus on. The first is developing players. The second, of course, is building a successful, winning team that the City of Mississauga and our supporters can be proud of. Last year alone, we sent eight of our players on to professional contracts in Europe. Andrew Ornoch, Igor Pisanjuk, Michael Krzeminski, Patrick Majcher, Gil Hong, Sanjar Kairosh, Jaakko Crawford and Mykola Chachula were all players who were key parts of our organization that we helped to move on to higher-level professional opportunities. Very few people pay attention to or even know this, but that is a remarkable achievement. And that is our priority—player development and giving them the opportunity to achieve their dreams”.
Added Komlodi, “We believe very strongly that this season, we will need all of our good player depth, because higher-level pro teams will be knocking on our doors for players again. We have a lot of young men with skill and determination here, and we will give them every opportunity to succeed.”
Attendance at home games at the Hershey Center was strong last season, but Rossiter is hoping the team will draw even bigger crowds in 2012. “For those who have never seen a CSL game live, it is very, very good soccer. There are still some excellent former European professionals who bring a lot of class to the league, but more importantly, the number of talented Canadian youngsters pushing for bigger things ahead is really impressive. It is intense, highly competitive soccer. That is demonstrated by the fact that so many of our players have already gone on to even bigger opportunities. We feel strongly that if local soccer fans take in one of our games, they will fall in love with our team and continue to support it in a big way.”
The CSL First Division will be comprised of 16 teams this season, with expansion franchises incoming from Kingston, Waterloo and Niagara Falls. Toronto FC Academy and the Montreal Impact Academy will both play in the CSL again this season, providing fans with a glimpse of even more future Major League Soccer (MLS) stars in action before they become household names.
For MEFC, the bar has been set very high—and the sky is the limit.