Bill Elliott becomes Head Coach
Chattanooga FC wins NPSL Southeast Conference (2nd time)
CFC finishes as an NPSL National Finalist, 8W - 3T - 3L
After the disappointing finish to the 2011 season – CFC having three chances to clinch the conference title and failing to get one win out of those three – Coach Brian Crossman was asked to step down. The club hired former Tennessee Vol and Chattanooga Express (pro) soccer player Bill Elliott to coach the club. Elliott had been Head Coach for NCAA Div. II University of West Florida for the past 19 years. Elliott grew up in Chattanooga and still had family living in the city.
Elliott’s very first match was a 1-0 loss in Finley Stadium on May 5 in front of 3,827 fans. While not the homecoming he might have wanted, he quickly turned things around and proceeded to go undefeated for the next 11 matches in league play.
Notable Absences and Newcomers
Notable absences from the roster were midfielder Ivan Heredia, star forward Chris Ochieng (the club’s leading scorer) and dynamic midfielder James Moore both went to play for the PDL’s Mississippi Brilla. Notable newcomers would be John Carrier, Greg Hartley, Luis Trude and Snoop Davidson, who would all make contributions to the club’s success in years to come. Sean McFarlane spent only part of the season with club as he made appearances with the Jamaican National team over the summer.
The NPSL Regular Season
The NPSL was growing (up to 54 teams from 43 the previous year) and so was the Southeast Conference. Myrtle Beach Mutiny and Mississippi Storm joined the returning conference clubs from 2011, so the conference was divided into East and West Divisions. Teams would play those in the same division both home and away and then would play teams from the other division just once. The winners of the two divisions would meet in a Conference Championship.
DC United Super 20s
CFC did not compete in the US Open Cup in 2012, missing the chance for qualification by not winning the Southeast Conference in 2011. CFC also did not play any international friendlies in 2012. The club did play an exhibition match against the DC United Super 20s, this time hosting them and coach Jaime Moreno in Finley Stadium on June 17. DC United got the win over CFC 2-0, accounting for the only loss for the team between May 12th and July 27th.
NPSL Southeast Conf. Championship
CFC won the West Division of the Southeast Conference, but came in second in points to East Division Champion Georgia Revolution, so the Conference Championship was played away in Conyers, GA on July 13.
Well over CFC 100 fans made the trek south to watch the match, which was delayed over two hours due to lightning, with kickoff finally coming at 9:30 pm. The match was aggressive, end to end play, with both clubs creating chances – the biggest one coming right before half time for the Revolution in the form of a penalty kick. As he would do often in seasons to come, goalkeeper Greg Hartley read the kick correctly and saved the shot to keep the game scoreless at the half.
The second half continued at the same pace as the first. But in the 72nd minute, Luis Trude dribbled artfully past several Revs, weaving in and out of defenders with seeming ease — to coolly place the ball into the net, putting the first goal on the scoreboard. The battle intensified and tempers flared, and while both clubs had chances for more, the final whistle saw the score just 1-0. CFC captured it’s second Southeast Conference Championship in just four years, and guaranteed themselves a spot in the US Open Cup tournament in 2013. The win also advanced the club to the NPSL National Semifinals in San Diego two weeks later.
NPSL National Semifinals and Finals
Sadly, the long travel distance to San Diego and the late date of the National playoffs kept many CFC players – and starters – from making the trip. College players like Snoop Davidson and Carl Reynolds were called back to college training camps. Working professionals like Fynn Glover, Irvin Espinal, Michael Brooks and Greg Eckhardt were also unable to make the trip. So a small squad of just fourteen players made the journey to the NPSL playoffs.
On July 27, a beautiful evening in southern California, CFC took the field to face the second ranked Bay Area Ambassadors in the second semifinal match of the day. The match was exciting an full of energy. CFC struck first, scoring in the 11th and 32nd minutes to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. The Ambassadors brought new intensity to the second half and scored in the 70th minute. This emboldened the Bay Area squad and as they looked to score a tying goal, Luis Trude danced the ball into the goal in the 79th, giving CFC the 3-1 lead. Trude was injured on the play and had to be subbed out. The Ambassadors nabbed one more late goal in 88th minute, but could not complete the comeback. CFC advances with a 3-2 win.
With Trude hurt, the club was down to 13 men. Sean McFarlane flew in from Jamaican National Team duty to help bolster the club’s attack in the Finals. FC Sonic from the Lehigh Valley met CFC on a sunny afternoon to battle for the title. The match was choppy, with neither side able to really find a rhythm. In the end, FC Sonic had just enough to get the 1-0 victory with a goal in the 72nd minute and a stalwart defense. For the second time in three years CFC was the runner-up, not the champion.
6W - 3T - 1L · NPSL League Matches
2W - 0T - 1L · NPSL Playoffs
0W - 0T - 1L · Exhibition Matches
8W - 3T - 3L · All Competitions
See all the 2012 results here. Click on individual matches for highlights.
2012 Notable Players:
Goalie Greg Hartley won the starting position and allowed only 11 goals in 13 matches (0.84 avg). Luke Winter came into his own, scoring a team leading 9 goals for the club – three straight games with hat tricks in NPSL League play. John Carrier and Luis Trude brought dynamic play to the midfield and Greg Eckhardt contributed solid defending. Sean McFarlane only spent one year with CFC, but he would go on to play with the Colorado Switchbacks of the USL, Miami FC of the NASL & NPSL (2019 NPSL Champions) and Austin Bold of the USL.
2012 total home attendance was 10,065 over six matches.
Mohammed Aden, Phil Beene, Builder Brock, Michael Brooks, John Carrier, Nick Chase, Russell Courtney, Snoopy (John) Davidson, Craig Demelo, Moises Drumond, Greg Eckhardt, Irvin Espinal, Rafa Faria, Reed Farnsley, Fynn Glover, Greg Hartley, Nate Hodges, Jame Holt, Matt Hudnut, Thomas Hunter, Josh Johnson, Felipe Lawall, Sean McFarlane, Jarod Muggleton, Grant Rardon, Matt Reed, Carl Reynolds, Matias Rubio, Karter Smith, Andy Stewart, Luis Trude, Luke Winter.
The 2012 Coaching Staff:
Head Coach: Bill Elliott; Assistant Coach: Jimmy Weekley; Goalie Coach: Brian Rook.
CFC Related News in 2012:
The club launched the new youth soccer club Chattanooga FC Academy in mid-2012 in an effort to unite various select soccer clubs across the city. While the Academy bore the Chattanooga FC name, the club had only one representative out of the initial seven board seats.
The club was also instrumental in organizing a friendly match between the Mexican Primera Division sides Club America and FC Pachuca on July 7 in Finley Stadium. Club America won 1-0 in an exciting match in front of 10,000+ fans.
In 2012 the club established Chattanooga FC Academy select youth soccer club as a separate 501(c)3. Chattanooga FC had just one board member out seven board seats at the academy’s founding in an effort to build consensus in the community. CFC Academy’s mission is to develop soccer players of a wide range of ages in the Chattanooga region through a unified system of coaches, teams, training, and facilities. Working alongside the Chattanooga community, we serve all youth, regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic background – creating progressive and innovative opportunities for them to grow and excel in soccer skills, in the delight of play, in the discipline of team work, and in the benefits of dedication to the sport.