Pittsburgh, PA- The first ever US Open Cup playoff game for Chattanooga FC in Pittsburgh started with great promise but ended in disappointment as the team lost 3-2 in overtime.
Chattanooga FC started strong, looking very much like it belonged on the field with the professional USL team, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. After a good back and forth in the first 13 minutes, CFC pressed forward in an attack and third year midfielder Ivan Heredia showed his seasoned experience — he spotted the goalie off his line and lobbed in a 40 yard shot that found the back of the net, putting CFC ahead 1-0. The rest of the first half continued with good open play from both sides, but no further goal scoring.
The second half started much the same way — with Chattanooga more than holding their own, and often continuing to press for goals. The pressure paid off in the 55th minute when forward Chris Ochieng got to the end line and crossed a beauty in to midfielder Mark Beattie who slotted it in to the net to put CFC ahead 2-0.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds — who have a had a rather difficult season with only 2 wins out of 11 games in the USL — decided not to throw in the towel, but instead threw in some strategic substitutions. They pushed forward aggressively, and a questionable foul by defender Nickson Odeny only six yards from the end line on the right hand side of the field led to a free kick. On the ensuing serve, Pittsburgh’s Yeisley headed a floater from the far post over Thomas Hunter and into the net: 2-1.
The goal awoke the listless fans (at an official count of a mere 305), and Pittsburgh gained confidence to continue to push forward for the equalizer. John Calderwood came on for James Moore, Luke Winter for Heredia and Michael Brooks for Ochieng (teams are allowed only 3 substitutes total in US Open Cup games). Pittsburgh substitute Lundberg manhandled the Chattanooga defensive back Andy Stewart (almost ripping his jersey off his back) on a corner kick and somehow bumped the ball in after a messy melee in the box to even it all up at 2-2 in the 89th minute.
Chattanooga — looking clearly shaken — held on through the end of the 4 minutes of added time and the game (which had to have a winner) went to overtime.
Play continued in much the same way through the start of the first half, until midfielder Nick Chase hit an errant hand ball about 40 yards out from the goal. Pittsburgh’s free kick into the box found another sub, Dayton, and he found the goal with what proved to be the winner.
Obviously disheartened, CFC lasted the half and regrouped. The team came out on the attack for the second 15 minute half of overtime and created several good opportunities, but never found the net.
Finally the whistle blew and the game was history. 3-2 Riverhounds over Chattanooga FC in US Open Cup play. A great effort in the team’s first ever US Open Cup tournament game.