[from a press release]
Following back-to-back Division 1 titles in the amateur-level Gotham Soccer League, Roosevelt Island’s adult soccer team – Zum Schneider Football Club 03 – has started its first season as a semi-professional outfit in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, the fourth tier of the United States soccer pyramid.
Zum Schneider FC 03 is fielding two separate teams, in the Division 2 and Division 2 Reserve leagues, and, as the teams reach the midpoint of the fall season, both remain undefeated in their respective divisions and have set their sights on the titles.
Robert Manukyan, captain of the first team and a long-time Roosevelt Island resident, said he was impressed with the club’s on-field displays, but that they came as no surprise. “We have guys in our club with college, semi-pro, and even professional experience. Many of our players have international faces. We all live and breathe soccer. All this adds up to a club managed by people who have a deep knowledge of soccer, and are passionate in what they're doing.”
Despite now boasting a roster of nearly 60 players, including numerous Roosevelt Island natives, the future of the Island’s adult soccer program has not always looked so rosy. Initially built around the aspirations of a ragtag group of soccer idealists, the adult men’s team quickly found itself short of critical financial resources and lacking the organizational structure necessary to rent training facilities.
Enter Zum Schneider Football Club. Founded in 2003 by German expat Alexander Berscheid, and informally based out of the renowned East Village Bavarian beer hall of the same name, the Zum Schneider Football Club suddenly offered a unique opportunity: It would leverage its already-established record in city-wide competitions in order to populate its ranks with a core of Islander soccer enthusiasts.
“We really started off as a group of Roosevelt Island soccer players who had learned how to play right here on the Island and wanted to continue to compete across New York,” explained Andrew Giacalone, one of the club’s Island-based organizers, and captain of the Roosevelt Island Strikers’ 1998 Eastern New York State Cup-winning team.
“We kicked off in 2012 as a casual 7-v-7 side, putting in our own money and efforts, and when the opportunity to merge with Zum Schneider came along, we seized it. We thought it would be the best way to bring high-level soccer to Roosevelt Island, and so far we’ve been proven right.”
After several seasons in the amateur-level Gotham Soccer League, where the club still maintains an 11-a-side Division 2 squad, Roosevelt Island duo Manukyan and Alex Beola decided it was time to test their mettle in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League. And they’ve made a strong start — both the first team and the reserve team are firmly in command of their division tables and running a 2-0 record.
“I am impressed with the level of success this team is achieving, and how we are getting there,” said reserve team captain Beola as he commented on his squad’s recent 13-1 victory over FC Japan. “It is one thing to gather a group of quality players, and another to get results. So far this season, we have been exposed to some of the toughest competition we have faced with this club, and blown them all out. I think we’re all confident that we’re chasing first place in our first season in the CSL.”
Beyond the hope for on-field success, Manukyan, Beola, and Giacalone all underlined one common objective as the foundation of their club’s work: the idea that one day Zum Schneider FC 03 would be accessible to all Roosevelt Islanders, including women’s and youth teams. Says Manukyan, “A developed club on a rock-hard foundation is what we are striving for – one that will eventually make noise in the men's, women's, and youth soccer spheres around New York City.”
“We obviously want to build a local and loyal fan-base, and develop a soccer architecture here on the Island under the Zum Schneider brand for generations to come,” added Giacalone. “When Robert and Alex’s teams return to Octagon Field for our next home game, it would be great to see people cheer them on.” Zum Schneider FC 03 will face off against the Central Park Rangers Reds at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 22, at Octagon Field.
For more information, visit Zum Schneider Football Club’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ZSFCRooseveltIsland.