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Chris Tsonis: After Chelsea game, first team has "accepted us"

Once a Metro sat down with Chris Tsonis to catch up as the inaugural NYRB II season draws to a close. The forward talked about his career and how close the team is, especially in the New York Red Bulls family.

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For fans, when a mostly-reserve New York Red Bulls side beat defending Premier League champions Chelsea FC 4-2 it elicited a state of shock and elation.

For Chris Tsonis, it was a chance to showcase his skills and an opportunity for NYRB II players to get closer with many of the first team players.

"Definitely after the Chelsea game, that really helped the second team intertwine with the first team more," Tsonis said to Once a Metro.

"After the game, the first team guys were shaking our hands saying good job. I would say they’ve definitely accepted us which has been good. I mean it has pretty much become a first name basis with everybody on the first team, everybody knows each other. We’re very friendly."

Tsonis joined NYRB II this year on a suggestion from his agent. He came back to the United States after playing two years in Iceland, and wanted to further his career by getting on an MLS team's radar, but more importantly playing close to home.

"I was away for 2 years, so coming home, my family and friends getting to watch me play, was an awesome opportunity," Tosnis said.

"To train in front of Jesse, who watches every single USL match, was big. [The Red Bulls] really take stock into USL and it was a big learning year for me just playing with other MLS guys. So my agent and I thought it would be a really good thing for myself and my career and it is working out so far."

It has been a long journey for the striker, who was part of the first U18 team in the New England Revolution academy in 2009. Tsonis attended the division two Southern New Hampshire University for four years, where he says he "fell through the cracks" after he wasn't scouted much by MLS teams.

After college, he signed with Icelandic second division club UMF Tindastóll in 2013. His play earned him a contract with Fjölnir Reykjavík, in the country's top division for the 2014 season. Tsonis describes the level of play in Iceland to be pretty similar to USL, but there is a stark divide between the quality of the top teams in the league, and those fighting to stay up.

"The top teams are probably more comparable to some lower teams in the MLS, but I mean their goal in Iceland is to play in the Champions League and they’ve come pretty close," Tsonis said.

"I have Portuguese citizenship, so I thought going to Europe and playing in a country like Iceland, which wasn’t the hardest to get over there at the time was a good choice professional wise to start my career.

"All the guys there have pretty much played with the same club their entire life, so for newcomers to come in it can take a little time. When you do break into the team they open up to you and its like a giant family there. It is pretty cool."

Back in the States, Tsonis says he really enjoys playing the high-press system the whole organization is employing, and the results are showing on the field. With four games to play, Tsonis has 5 goals, just two off his career high in a professional season. They may have come in bunches, but those five goals make him the leading scorer for NYRB II.

"Once I score a couple of goals, they run in," Tsonis says.

"I think it's just the season has been going pretty well for us and we’re starting to get momentum. With just four games left we need to perform in those games. We need to win and make sure we get a good seed in the playoffs."

No matter what happens in the end for NYRB II, the organization and the close-knit group can call the season a success. Especially when everybody in Harrison knows their names.