Sometimes the pass would be just a touch behind the runner. Other times the shot would be well-struck, but it would hit the top of the crossbar. Regardless of the circumstance, a promising CFC possession would dissipate into the humid August night as the Los Angeles Force came away with a 1-0 win marked by great defense and shaky attacking.
“We certainly weren’t as good as we were last week,” coach Peter Fuller said. “But I thought our defense played well. I honestly felt bad for the back line, because that’s a tough result for them.”
James Kasak gave the ball a good rip in the fifth minute, when he got the ball at the edge of the box with some space to work with.
It didn’t find a home at the back of the net, but it woke up what had been a sleepy crowd. A few minutes later, Kasak had a nice tackle and dispossession to break up a counter-attack by Los Angeles, which was a great play individually, but showed that CFC’s most creative player was perhaps required to spend too much time defending and not enough time involved in the attack.
The Force spent the next portion of the game dominating possession and firing crosses into the box. Fortunately for CFC, defenders like Richard Dixon and Nick Spielman and Tate Robertson cleaned up those shots. What few shots did go through were gobbled up by keeper Alec Reddington.
Wingback Damian Rodriguez had a couple of nice possessions and runs in the first half. On multiple occasions, the teenager would beat his man, run down the right sideline, and whipped a cross into the box.
In the 27th minute, the Force had back to back opportunities to make a pass for an easy shot. And on both occasions, the unflappable Richard Dixon flew in from out of nowhere to eliminate the threat before it turned into a CFC deficit.
“The back line did a great job and were terrific,” coach Fuller said. “I was very pleased with them, but it’s disappointing because we’ve struggled to string together two good games together as an entire team.”
LA had another good chance to score in the 33rd minute when a free kick developed into a mad scramble to head the ball in from point-blank range once Reddington strayed too far from his post. CFC’s defensive line held, and Reddington followed up by punching the ball out .
The half came to a chippy end when a CFC player collided with LA’s goalkeeper and the foul was called on CFC. An irate coach Fuller, dressed in a yellow button-up shirt, was handed a rare yellow card for arguing with the call.
The defense couldn’t stay perfect forever though. In the 47th minute, Nick Spielman tripped a Los Angeles winger within the box and gave up a penalty. Diego Barrera stepped up and fired a shot to his left past Reddington to give Los Angeles the 1-0 lead.
Daniel Jackson came within a few inches of scoring in the 57th minute. Flashing into the box while the ball was still 40 yards away, Jackson made a mad run toward the goal and connected with the long pass. The keeper used all of his strength to stop the shot, crumpling over the ball literally a foot in front of the goal.
Chattanooga FC kept up the pressure for the next few minutes, flooding the box with numbers, they tried to force in a score through sheer numbers. Chattanooga FC couldn’t get one in though. On one run in the 65th minute, a great tackle broke up what looked like a sure point-blank goal from the right side.
“I just thought that through the midfield and up front, we just didn’t have enough ideas and weren’t clean enough in terms of the passing,” coach Fuller said. “I thought that when it came to want and desire, I just didn’t think we had it.”
The last 20 minutes were marred by what seemed to be an endless parade of yellow cards as the game turned into a scrappy mess. CFC put together a few good attacks to end the game, but they couldn’t quite find the equalizer.
“Los Angeles was a desperate team,” coach Fuller said. “They’d drawn their first three and needed three points, and they damn well came out and got it.”