Chattanooga FC earned a convincing 5-0 over the Savannah Clovers on Saturday night to remain undefeated on the season.
Goals from Jesus Ibarra, Alex McGrath, Luis Garcia Sosa (2), and new all-time top CFC goalscorer Markus Naglestad capped off a near perfect performance in front of 3,048 fans at Finley Stadium.
Chattanooga entered the match in fine form, remaining undefeated after 14 league matches and sitting far above the rest of the league in the standings. The Savannah Clovers found themselves in the opposite situation, earning only five points from 12 league matches. However, one of those points was earned at Finley Stadium earlier in the season.
Head coach Rod Underwood was forced into one change to his lineup with Moldovan centerback Anatolie Prepelita suspended for yellow card accumulation. Sebastian Capozucchi stepped into the defense in an otherwise unaltered eleven from the 2-1 win over Gold Star.
The boys in blue took control of the game quickly. With less than three minutes on the board, Jesus Ibarra scored in front of the home crowd for the first time. After picking up the ball at midfield, Ibarra dribbled swift and direct before playing a one-two with Mutaya Mwape. Receiving the ball again on the right edge of the box, Ibarra crossed over a few more defenders before curling the ball perfectly into the far side of the goal. Chattanooga was ahead 1-0 in the 3rd minute.
Instead of sitting on the goal advantage, the boys in blue pushed harder for more, peppering the Savannah goal with chance after chance. It came as no surprise to the crowd when goal number two was scored in the 33rd minute. Alex McGrath picked the pocket of a defender about 30 yards from goal, giving him a one-on-one chance with the keeper from a tight angle. McGrath coolly finished low into the far corner, putting Chattanooga up 2-0.
Luis Garcia Sosa got in on the action seven minutes later. After excellent wing play from Mutaya Mwape got the ball into the box, a poor Savannah clearance fell to Garcia Sosa, who struck the ball first time, beaming it through the keeper’s gloves and into the net for a 3-0 lead.
Chattanooga took the 3-0 lead to halftime, but they were not done.
“We came into the game and felt like we wanted to put a full game together,” Head Coach Rod Underwood said after the game. “And we got closer today.”
There was no drop-off in performance in the second half as the boys in blue continued weaving one of their best ninety-minute tales of the season.
Garcia Sosa got his second goal of the game in the 63rd minute. Mutaya Mwape got on the end of an inch-perfect Alex McGrath through-ball before squaring the ball towards the top of the box. Garcia Sosa got on the end of the cross, taking a touch to control the ball before smashing it into the bottom corner.
“I just have to be at the right place and [Mutaya Mwape] finds me. I open up my hips and look for that bottom left corner and thankfully it worked our way.”
With a 4-0 lead after 63 minutes, the CFC performance only lacked one thing- a Markus Naglestad goal. The goal-scoring Norwegian entered the match with 52 goals for the club, tied for the most in the club’s history. When Naglestad was fouled just inside the penalty area, there was no doubt what was about to happen.
There would be no stutter steps or tricks from Naglestad. Striding up confidently, Chattanooga’s Markus Naglestad hit an unstoppable penalty into the top corner, cementing his place as Chattanooga Football Club’s all-time leading goal scorer.
“As a striker, I value every goal the same, but the goal today meant a little bit extra obviously breaking down records… It wasn’t my nicest goal, but at least historically it meant the most.”
With a 5-0 lead in the 68th minute, the boys in blue still kept their foot on the gas, but no more goals were to be scored. Despite coming close on several more occasions, Chattanooga FC finished the game five goals to the good.
On such a momentous occasion, fans duly voted for Markus Naglestad as man of the match. The Norwegian has been a fantastic servant to the club, and reaching the milestone of top goalscorer is a testament to both his commitment to the club and high level of talent to achieve this record in the professional era of the club.
In addition to Naglestad’s goalscoring record, the team completed their best home league result since turning professional, accentuating a holistic team performance for fans to be proud of.
The boys in blue get a week off before the action returns to Fort Finley as Salt City Union (NY) comes to Chattanooga on Saturday, August 19th.
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.