CFC loses in NPSL National Semifinal in front of 12,251
Runner up in the USASA Amateur National Championship
Wins third NPSL South Region title and sixth Southeast Conf. title
CFC finishes as NPSL National Semifinalist, 15W - 2T - 4L
2016 Season Summary
After the thrilling seasons of 2014 and 2015, hopes remained high for the club in 2016. The two-time NPSL Coach of the Year Bill Elliott was returning and so was most of the roster that made the team so successful. Notable absences were Sean Rutter, John Hopkins and Nick Edgington from the defense. Notable newcomers were Soren Yuhaschek, Keiran Bywater and a number of local players: brothers Stephen and Jonathan Ricketts from Dayton, TN; Caleb Cole, who lived in Chattanooga until he was 16; and David Perez from Dalton. Caleb Cole had even been a ball for CFC in his younger years.
The NPSL Southeast Conference had changed yet again: Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves and Georgia Revolution left, and the Birmingham Hammers and Memphis City FC joined. Along with CFC were still Knoxville, Nashville and New Orleans.
2016 US Open Cup & USASA Amateur National Championship
On May 18, four days after winning the first regular season match 1-0 in Birmingham, CFC hosted amateur side Reading United AC from PA in the first round of the US Open Cup. Backup keeper Tom Halsall got to start the first five games of the season while Greg Hartley recovered from an injury. Halsall kept a shutout through regulation and extra time, but CFC could not net a goal either. The club ended up winning 4-1 in penalty kicks to advance.
For the second year in a row Chattanooga was selected to play host to the USASA Amateur National Championship Tournament. The tournament was to pit the champions of the four best amateur leagues (NPSL, PDL, USASA Open and Amateur Champions) to determine one true champion. CFC was selected to represent the NPSL as the 2015 league champions, New York Cosmos B, had professional players on their squad and were not eligible.
In the semifinal, CFC faced off against Quinto Elemento in a fiery match where the scoring started in the ninth minute and ended in the ninetieth minute with a final score of 6-2. Chattanooga FC clearly looked the better side, and put themselves in a position to win a second Hank Steinbrecher Cup.
But in the final the very next day, the club ran into a team of equal quality, the Chicago Fire development team from the PDL. The Fire jumped ahead 1-0 in the 22nd minute. CFC then started creating a number of chances but met repeated resistance from the Fire defense that had crowded the goal and prevented a number of shots from becoming dangerous. Luke Winter had a goal waved off for being offside.
CFC evened the match in the 48th minute on a goal by Winter, and both teams created chances the rest of the way but were unable to score. In extra time, the Fire changed that in the 108th minute, scoring on a corner kick for what turned out to be the game-winner. In the last minutes of extra time, CFC Keeper Greg Hartley would jump into the box on a corner and actually get a head on the ball, but could not score. CFC were runners-up.
There would be very little rest for Chattanooga FC, which faced the Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer League four days later in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, also at Finley.
The teams were evenly matched from the start, with both creating many chances – and both sides hitting the crossbar in the first half – when first-season player Soren Yuhaschek would grab a goal late in the half to put CFC ahead of the professional opponents.
Despite Soren Yuhaschek giving the hosts the 1-0 lead, Harrisburg responded in the second half through Craig Foster’s volley in the 71st minute. Foster was involved again nine minutes later as he collected the flick-on from a long goal kick and fed Paul Wilson for the game-winning strike. CFC would be unable to find an equalizer and would fall for the second game in a row, 2-1.
2015 NPSL Regular Season
It seemed as though the battles with top amateur teams – and also with professional competition – had helped to strengthen the team as they resumed play in the NPSL Southeast Conference. Having already won its first two matches of league play, the team would complete its second season in going undefeated Southeast Conference play – with nine wins and one tie (in 2010 the team had four wins and two ties in league play).
2015 NPSL Southeast Conference Tournament
The team continued its torrid scoring pace in the Conference Semifinal, beating Knoxville Force 5-0. They moved on to face Memphis City, who had been the only side CFC could not beat twice in the regular season.
In the conference title match, Chattanooga FC took a 1-0 lead near the midway mark of the first half when Luke Winter beat the keeper off a great pass from John Carrier. CFC seemed to assert itself after the goal and outshot Memphis 9-1 in the first half, but a penalty was called for Memphis with seconds left in the half, the lead was in grave danger.
As he had done multiple times in the past, Greg Hartley came up with a gigantic save to keep the lead at 1-0 going into the half.
Memphis came into the second half looking to tie it up, and found rebound goal (after a Greg Hartley diving save) to tie the game at 1-1 in the 73rd minute. The game appeared headed for extra time, but some magic came in the 89th minute.
Running down the right sideline with the ball, Zeca spotted Samuel Goñi streaking down the opposite side of the field into the penalty box and lofted a 45 yard cross to the six yard mark. Goñi beat the keepr to the ball, heading it in for an unbelievable game winner. CFC had won its sixth conference title.
2016 International Friendlies
CFC hosted two international clubs in friendlies: Tigres UANL Reserves from Mexico and Middlesbrough FC U21s from England. The matches were sandwiched in between NPSL playoff matches, so the coaching staff decided to play the second team and players who had not seen much play in game time. CFC tied Tigres 1-1 and lost 4-0 to Middlesbrough.
2016 South Region Semifinal & Final
With the best points-per-game average of the teams in the NPSL Playoffs, Chattanooga FC was sure to have home field advantage. It looked as though a second straight National Final could be hosted by the Scenic City.
Dayton Dutch Lions out of the NPSL South Central Conference met a highly efficient and effective CFC team in the semis, losing 4-0. Chattanooga FC got two goals from Luke Winter, then one each from Finlay and Davidson to make short work of the Lions.
Things would not be so easy when a very strong Miami United FC side came into Finley for the Region Final. From the outset, the game proved to be a slugfest as the visitors slowed the pace and took every opportunity they could to throw off the rhythm of the Southeast Conference champions. The gritty game was 0-0 at the half.
Fouling increased in the second half, culminating in a red card for Miami early in the half. They would play with 10 men the rest of the way. But they held their own and forced the game into extra time.
CFC was awarded a penalty in extra time but Kieran Bywater missed the kick and the game remained 0-0 until the final whistle. Another round of penalty kicks would decide the winner.
Miami kicked first and made their first four shots, as did Zeca, Sindre Welo, Will Roberts and Jon Finlay for Chattanooga FC. Miami’s fifth kicker shot but Greg Hartley saved it. With a goal here, CFC would have the win and Greg Hartley set up to take it. But a Miami player stepped up to Hartley to antagonize him, actually grabbing and shoving his face in an effort to start a fight. The referee separated them after much protesting from both squads. Hartley kicked and scored, and CFC had won its third straight South Region Championship.
The 10,104 fans in attendance celebrated the win with the team, but the celebration was marred when a Miami player threw a punch at Greg Hartley and a small melee ensued. Once the teams were separated and the trophy awarded, Hartley led the team and the stands in the “viking clap” made famous by the Iceland national team in the 2016 Euro.
2016 NPSL National Semifinal
The anticipation of another National Championship was palpable as the team entered into the Semifinal. 12,251 excited fans filed in to Finley Stadium to cheer the home side on against Sonoma County Sol. But Chattanooga would be without its leading scorer, Luke Winter, who had ten goals on the season. Winter’s flight back to Chattanooga had been delayed and he would miss the match.
CFC would look dominant from the get go. Will Roberts scored in the fifth minute of the match, assisted by Juan Hernandez. The team had a number of opportunities to build that margin in the first half but couldn’t and took the one-goal lead into the locker room.
Sonoma County made a couple of changes at halftime and basically controlled possession in the second half of play. Hartley made a couple of spectacular saves midway through the half, on shots right in front of the net, but Sonoma County broke through in the 80th minute when Noah Paravicini netted a shot, then took the lead during stoppage time when Simon Whitaker scored.
The final whistle blew, and CFC had lost 2-1 in a shocking defeat.
“We should have had at least four or five goals in the first half,” CFC goalkeeper Greg Hartley said. “Four goals we could have put in that we didn’t put away. We looked comfortable for 75 minutes, but they brought the game to us and we crumbled at the end, but credit to these guys. They kept going, they kept bringing it.”
9W - 1T - 0L · NPSL Regular Season
1W - 0T - 1L · US Open Cup Playoffs
1W - 0T - 1L · USASA Amateur Championship
0W - 1T - 1L · International Friendlies
4W - 0T - 1L · NPSL Playoff Matches
15W - 2T - 4L · All Competitions
2016 Notable Players:
Luke Winter again led the team with 10 goals, while Wil Roberts and Samuel Goñi slotted 6 goals each. Kieran Bywater led with 6 assists on the season, and Samuel Goñi and Juan Hernandez each added 5 assists. Greg Hartley and Tom Halsall, along with the entire defense had 0.7 goal average through 20 games (not including the international friendlies). Danny Reynolds would return to the club in 2017 and then would go on to be drafted by the Seattle Sounders in the MLS and play for the Tacoma Defiance in the USL.
2016 total home attendance was 76,983 in 15 matches.
Matt Aldred, Othello Bah, Michael Brooks, Jr., Kieran Bywater, John Carrier, Caleb Cole, Snoopy (John) Davidson, Andre DiGiorgi, Jordan Dunstan, Rene Enang, Jose “Zeca” Ferraz, Jon Finlay, Samuel Goni, Liam Guest, Tom Halsall, Greg Hartley, Thomas Hunter, Juan Hernandez, Daniel Kubin, Francisco Maciel, Danny McBride, Bryson Moore, Alejandro Pastor, David Perez, Kobe Perez, Carl Reynolds, Danny Reynolds, Jonathan Ricketts, Stephen Ricketts, Ellis Roberts, Kevin Roenpage, Will Roberts, Luis Trude, Sindre Welo, Luke Winter, Jake Young, Soren Yuhaschek.
The 2016 Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Bill Elliott; Assistant Coach: Jimmy Weekley; Goalkeeper Coach: Jordan Mattheiss.
2016 Chattanooga FC Women
The Chattanooga FC Women played their third season in the WPSL with their third coach, Drew Courtney (a former CFC Player). The team finished 3W - 0T - 6L and was led by General Manager Gretchen Hammel.
2016 CFC Related News
The Chattanooga FC Foundation starts the program Operation Get Active. Operation Get Active uses the game of soccer to encourage young people in Chattanooga to live active, healthy lifestyles.