Chattanooga FC put on another dominant display on the road as the boys in blue picked up a 5-0 victory over Albion San Diego.
Goals from Anatolie Prepelita, Alex McGrath, Taylor Gray, Markus Naglestad, and debutant Lenny Lopez capped off an impressive display on the west coast.
Chattanooga entered the match looking to expound upon a perfect start to the season, having beat Gold Star Detroit 3-0 on opening day and advancing past the Des Moines Menace in the U.S. Open Cup with a 4-1 win.
In contrast, the match was the first league appearance of the season for Albion, after suffering a 2-0 defeat in the Open Cup against San Diego Loyal.
Head coach Rod Underwood made just one change to the eleven that opened the season against Gold Star Detroit. Mutaya Mwape suffered an injury in the last match against Des Moines and was replaced by Dalton’s own Damian Rodriguez.
It was clear from the start which team was more prepared for the match.
The high press from Chattanooga overwhelmed the San Diego defense, forcing errors and creating chance after chance for the boys in blue.
The goal fest started in the 2nd minute with a Chattanooga corner. An Alex McGrath inswinger found the head of Ayden Bowers, who nodded the ball back for Anatolie Prepelita to head past the keeper. This was Prepelita’s first goal for the club.
Alex McGrath got on the scoresheet in the 10th minute. Taylor Gray played him through with a well-timed pass, giving McGrath a one-on-one chance against the keeper. McGrath’s first attempt was saved, but he acrobatically tucked away the rebound to make it 2-0.
Lethargic defending from the Albion defense allowed an alert Taylor Gray to get on the scoresheet in the 20th minute. Anatolie Prepelita booted up a routine free kick from deep in his own half.
While the San Diego defense let the long ball bounce past them towards the keeper, Taylor Gray ran onto the ball and found himself one-on-one with the keeper with no defenders in sight. Gray clinically tucked the ball home, putting the visitors up 3-0.
In the 35th minute, the high CFC press allowed Luis Garcia Sosa to pick the pocket of the last defender before driving forward and squaring the ball to Markus Naglestad. Naglestad had only to tap the ball into the empty net. The boys in blue took a 4-0 lead into halftime.
One could guess that Rod Underwood gave his team one message at halftime: keep the clean sheet. Albion looked more dangerous in the second half, but solid goalkeeping work from Jean Antione ensured that the home side couldn’t score.
Fresh legs from substitutions overwhelmed Albion again late in the match. Lenny Lopez, recently signed rookie from Iona University, stepped on the pitch in the 87th minute for his professional debut.
17 seconds later, a cross from fellow sub Beto Alvarenga found Lopez, who tapped home the goal with his first touch as a professional player.
After a comprehensive performance, the game ended and the boys in blue tucked an extra three points in their checked luggage for the trip back to Chattanooga.
From the attack to defense, this game again displayed the quality of the CFC squad this season and sets the bar high for the games to come.
The result sees Chattanooga sit atop the NISA standings with six points and eight goals.
The boys in blue will be put to the test again on Saturday, April 22 as Flower City Union visit Fort Finley. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available 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.