A cool penalty from Markus Naglestad was the only consolation for Chattanooga FC as it fell 3-1 to Huntsville City FC in its final preseason test on Saturday.
The closed door, season-ticket-holder-only friendly match featured two sides from the third division of US soccer, with Huntsville starting up in the MLS Next Pro league as an affiliate of Nashville SC. This was the last test for the boys in blue before the impending NISA league kickoff.
Head coach Rod Underwood only made one change from the eleven that bested One Knoxville SC a few weeks prior.
Naglestad led the front line accompanied by Mutaya Mwape and Taylor Gray on the wings. Captain Richard Dixon anchored the midfield with Alex Jaimes and Leonel Alvarenga. Joseph Perez and Jungwoo So started either side of Anatolie Prepelita and Ayden Bowers in defense, while Jean Antoine deputized in goal.
It was clear from the first whistle that neither team was going to sit back and concede control of the game.
Chattanooga displayed its signature possession style, committed to working the ball out of the back. However, a disciplined Huntsville defense was able to absorb the pressure and cause problems with the press.
This Huntsville press was what ultimately earned the opening goal in the 21st minute. A careless pass between the Chattanooga defense was intercepted, and the two Huntsville strikers were clinical in converting the ensuing 2-vs-1 chance, curling a great strike into the net.
The visitors were up 1-0.
Chattanooga’s best chance of the first half was also earned from a high press, but the end result was a blocked shot from Markus Naglestad bouncing off the base of the goal post in the 36th minute. Huntsville preserved the 1-0 going into the half.
Things got worse quickly in the second half. Just a minute into the half, CFC's Antoine made a fine save from a curling Huntsville shot, but a visitor was on hand to volley the rebound home, bringing the score to 2-0.
In the 59th minute, a nearly identical situation saw a rebounded Antoine save poked into the net by Huntsville, putting the visitors up 3-0.
Chattanooga FC finally got on the board in the 63rd minute.
Taylor Gray beat the goalkeeper to a floated through ball and got taken down to earn a penalty.
Naglestad stepped up to take it, tricking the goalkeeper with a stutter step before calmly rolling the ball into the back of the net, bringing the score to 3-1.
CFC Head Coach Rod Underwood displayed the depth of his bench throughout the second half, bringing on the likes of Ethan Koren, Juan Louis, John Partida, Jon Burke, Hugo Martinez, and Fabian Rodriguez at various stages of the half.
Chattanooga FC will host expansion side Gold Star FC Detroit on April 1st to kick off the new season.
Season tickets and single game tickets are on sale at ChattanoogaFC.com/tickets.
About Chattanooga Football Club
Chattanooga Football Club was founded in 2009. The CFC Men's team competes in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), which is in the third division of professional soccer. The CFC Women's team is a summer amateur team that competes in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Chattanooga Football Club became the first soccer club to offer true ownership to the fans in 2019 with 3,200+ investors from Chattanooga, all 50 states, and 31 countries. CFC plays all home games in Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.