Every week, NewYorkRedBulls.com will feature a NYRB II player, and tell their story. Here is the fourth installment of the USL Profile Series.
Chris Tsonis, forward for New York Red Bulls II, signed his USL contract on March 27, 2015 and started in the first ever Red Bulls II match against the Rochester Rhinos on March 28. Since then, he leads the team in points and goals. He is second on the team in assists and made his First Team debut as a starter against Chelsea FC in the International Champions Cup.
“Just like everybody else here, [my goal] is to try and get to that top level, try to get to the First Team,” Tsonis said. “It’s really tough, day-in and day-out. You have to be willing to work and catch an eye so just scoring goals and playing well is the only way to do it and staying focused.”
Tsonis’ soccer journey began in Dartmouth, Mass., where he started playing soccer at the age of four. Raised by a soccer loving family of Benfica fans, Tsonis was coached by his uncle, a notable soccer coach in the area. After raising his games to higher and higher levels, he eventually joined the New England Revolution Academy, where he played from 2008-09.
As a senior in high school, he committed to Southern New Hampshire University, a NCAA Division II school. Despite being recruited by Division I schools, the decision was made because of his competitive spirit.
“I was getting recruited for division one schools, but I really wanted to go and win a national championship and I thought that it was the best school,” Tsonis said. “We made it to the Elite Eight three times, Sweet 16 one time, and of course a year after I left they won the national championship, but that school was just a good fit for me.”
The forward thrived with the Penmen, and scored 40 goals in 83 matches during his four years at college. With an eye on the next move, Tsonis networked and earned a spot in a combine, but nobody could have guessed where he would end up next.
“I ended up catching an eye there and they sent me over for a trial with a team.”
That team was UMF Tindastoll, a second-division club in Iceland.
“I went over to the team and I scored a hat-trick in the first game on trial there so the coach right away said, ‘ok, we’ll sign you,’ and it was a dream come true to start that professional journey.”
Over the course of the next year, he scored seven goals and was scouted by a team in the Premiership in Iceland. After his first professional season, he joined Fjolnir Reykjavik in the Icelandic Premier League. He enjoyed a successful season at the top level, scoring five goals in 2014, but after two years abroad, he began to miss home.
“Whenever you go away, when you go overseas, you really get this feeling about America and I definitely got homesick a lot, more so my second year,” Tsonis said. “I just knew it would be eight or nine months that I’d be away from my family and friends so I definitely missed home a lot.”
“Coming back to New York was a dream come true, coming back to America I was so happy, it was unreal. I just drove here, it’s three and a half hours [from Massachusetts], and did well, fit in with the guys and you really can’t complain about it here. The facility is perfect every single day, you want to play and try to get up to the First Team, the top level.”
Since joining Red Bulls II, Tsonis has appeared in 20 of 22 USL matches thus far. After starting against 2014-15 English Premier League champions Chelsea FC in what he called, “a dream come true,” he aims to take his game to the next level by focusing on the task at hand with NYRB II.
“Just keep pushing, just keep getting results like we are,” Tsonis said. “I think the Chelsea game really boosted our confidence and it shows just the way we’re playing. Just keep pushing forward, keep the eye on the prize you know, playoffs. We need to make the playoffs, as a first year team so if we can do that and make an impact in the playoffs and the sky’s the limit from there.”
You can catch Chris Tsonis with New York Red Bulls II at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on Wednesday, August 12 against Charlotte Independence at 7 p.m. EDT. For ticket information, visit //www.newyorkredbulls.com/2/tickets. All matches are streamed live at NewYorkRedBulls.com/Live.