Chattanooga FC remains undefeated after playing out a 0-0 draw with Salt City Union on Saturday night. Defense was the name of the game as the boys in blue were unable to break down a stout visiting defense.
The boys in blue had a two-week break leading up to the match after a big 5-0 win over the Savannah Clovers. The visiting Union were in a vein of good form entering the match, going four games undefeated in a push to earn a playoff spot.
Head coach Rod Underwood made three changes to his starting eleven. Anatolie Prepelita returned to the eleven after serving his yellow card accumulation suspension. Beto Alveranga earned a start in midfield, and Juan Louis started on the wing.
Chances were few and far between throughout the match. The visitors employed a low defensive block that allowed little space in and around the box for Chattanooga to operate in.
Even the best chances that the boys in blue had seemed to be quickly smothered and blocked by the visitors. The best chance fell to Juan Louis in first half stoppage time as he broke past the defense on an Alvarenga through ball, but again the defense arrived just in time to block his attempt on goal. The score was level at the half.
Mutaya Mwape and Luis Garcia Sosa subbed in at the half to add extra flavor to the attack.
Markus Naglestad almost broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute as he dribbled past two defenders to get a shot away, but the keeper was alert to deny the chance.
Another big chance came in the 69th minute as Colin Stripling nodded a Naglestad cross just wide of the target.
As the ref added five minutes of stoppage time, every knew it would take something special to break through the visiting defense. The men of Chattanooga were inches away from making that happen. In the final seconds of the game, Alex McGrath got on the end of a deflected cross to volley towards goal, but his effort volleyed off the crossbar.
The game ended seconds later with the teams sharing the spoils, 0-0.
“It wasn’t our best night. I thought we had some good moments, but I didn’t think we were anywhere near our best.” Head coach Rod Underwood said after the match.
Coach Underwood acknowledged that Chattanooga will face difficult tests like this for the rest of the season, especially teams that will play defensively. “That’s what we need to see, and we need to be good enough to break it down.”
Alex McGrath earned the vote of Man of the Match. He was inches away from earning the win, but his tireless efforts over ninety minutes in the midfield were not overlooked. The entire defense deserves acknowledgement as well, having now only conceded five goals in 15 matches.
With only nine league matches remaining, Chattanooga FC now sits nine points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, still undefeated. Chattanooga's team will look to bounce back quickly from a game that was an outlier from an incredible league run.
Chattanooga FC will host a midweek matchup as NPSL runners-up Apotheos FC visit Finley Stadium on Thursday, August 24 with an earlier 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Tickets are available here.
League play returns on Sunday, September 3rd as the Los Angeles Force roll into town.
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.