Chattanooga FC wins NPSL Southeast US Open Cup qualifying tournament
Dramatic extra time loss in US Open Cup 3-2
Win in second international friendly, 3-2 over CF Monterrey U20s
Disappointing 2nd place finish in conference, 8W - 2T - 4L
The 2011 began with high hopes, as much of the 2010 National Finalist team returned for another season. Notable absences were Richard Masters, Fynn Glover, Luis Salazar and Tim Sparks. Notable newcomers were Mark Sherrod, James Moore and Luke Winter.
The NPSL Southeast saw some changes with new teams Georgia Revolution, Jacksonville United and Knoxville Force joining, and with an old foe, Atlanta FC, merging with the NASL’s Silverbacks to form the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves squad.
NPSL Southeast Conf. US Open Cup Qualifiers
After beginning the regular season with two wins and a draw (away to Atlanta), the team jumped into an NPSL Southeast Conference US Open Cup qualifying tournament. The winner would represent the conference in the nation’s oldest soccer tournament, one featuring the best teams from both amateur and professional ranks. Chattanooga FC dispatched Rocket City United 2-0 in the semifinal on Saturday and moved on to face the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves in the championship match on Sunday.
While the teams had met just one week earlier, the Atlanta side featured many new faces – undoubtedly from the reserves of the professional NASL side. From the start the match was hotly contested, with both sides playing aggressively. The end of regulation had seen six yellow cards and a red card for the Atlanta coach, with both sides in a 0-0 deadlock. Needing a winner, the match went into two extra time halves of fifteen minutes each. The first half of extra time ended scoreless, with both sides looking exhausted. As the last minutes of extra time drained away, a Chattanooga free kick was played to the far post in the 118th minute. Defender Russell Courtney headed the ball back across the goal to a wide open Chris Ochieng who paused, then calmly chipped the ball over a diving goalie for the winning goal.
A week later, the club suffered its first league loss in over a year away to Jacksonville United. After picking up an away win in Huntsville against Rocket City, the team headed off to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in its first ever US Open Cup match.
US Open Cup v Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Playing against its first ever full professional opponent, CFC held its own in the opening minutes, looking very much like it belonged on the field. In the 13th minute, midfielder Ivan Heredia saw the keeper off his line and dropped a 40 yard pass into the goal to give CFC the 1-0 lead. CFC kept that lead into the half and came out swinging. In the 68th minute forward Chris Ochieng found Mark Beattie who slotted home a second goal to put CFC up 2-0.
Sensing trouble, Pittsburgh made three substitutions that proved the key for the match. The subs connected for a goal in the 83rd minute, and then snatched a tying goal at the last breath of the game, in the 89th minute. Clearly shaken, CFC held on until extra time, but ended up conceding on more goal to lose 3-2 at the end of 120 minutes.
Disappointment in the NPSL Season
The team returned to league play, winning two more matches to move into first place – with one win out of their final three games, the club would clinch the conference title. Away to Georgia Revolution resulted in only a draw 1-1. The next week at home against the same Revolution side saw CFC start off shockingly bad, going down 3-0 in the first 53 minutes of play. Aggressive substitutions saw CFC pour in three goals in a row to level the score, with all the players pushing for the winner. But the push left the back open for a counter attack, and Georgia scored the game winner in the 84th minute. It was CFC’s first loss at home in over two years.
The team could still clinch the title in its final away match in Knoxville, but first it would play its second ever international friendly against CF Monterrey U20s from Mexico. CFC’s second team got some valuable play time and won a back and forth match on Tom Webster’s lovely goal in the 85th minute.
The season ended in disappointment as Knoxville Force pulled out a surprising 2-1 win. While CFC way outshot the Force, former CFC backup Wezley Barnard played the game of his life for Knoxville and CFC lost the conference title to Jacksonville United FC. Jacksonville went on to win the NPSL National Championship in 2011.
5W - 2T - 3L · NPSL League Matches
2W - 0T - 0L · US Open Cup Qualifying Playoffs
0W - 0T - 1L · US Open Cup Playoffs
1W - 0T - 0L · International friendly Matches
8W - 2T - 4L · All Competitions
See all the 2011 match results here. Click on individual matches for highlights.
2011 Notable Players
Chris Ochieng returned to his goal-scoring ways, netting 8 goals and 4 assists in 2011. Thomas Hunter stepped into the goal allowing only 13 goals in 13 matches (1.0 avg). James Moore and Luke Winter made their debuts for the club and would go on to be regular starters for the team in years to come. Mark Sherrod returned to the University of Memphis to lead them in scoring, and eventually played in the MLS for the Houston Dynamo and the San Jose Earthquakes.
2011 total home attendance was 11,649 over nine matches.
Mohamed Aden, Julian Allgeier, Wezley Barnard, Mark Beattie, Phil Beene, Michael Brooks, John Calderwood, Nick Chase, Thomas Clark, Frank Cope, Russell Courtney, Moises Drumond, Irvin Espinal, Mac Gambill, Thomas Gareau, Carlos Gutierrez, Aldo Heredia, Ivan Heredia, Robbie Hill, Thomas Hunter, Nihod Kanjesic, Cody McCoy, James Moore, Chris Ochieng, Nick Odeny, Ryan Peck, Blake Pelton, David Pifer, Rodrigo Pigatto, Nori Rahbe, Juan Robles, Jose Robles, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Sherrod, Josh Shields, Andy Stewart, Daniel Tackling, Logan Threadgill, Tom Webster, Luke Winter.
The 2011 Coaching Staff:
Head Coach: Brian Crossman; Assistant Coach: Jimmy Weekley; Goalie Coach: Scott Bosgraf; Manager: Chris Cushenbery.
CFC Related News in 2011:
On March 6 the club helped to host an MLS pre-season exhibition match between the New England Revolution and the Columbus Crew in Finley Stadium. The Revolution won 2-1 in front of 4,379.