Chattanooga Football Club suffered its first loss of the season with a 2-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Force on Wednesday night. Mutaya Mwape’s opening goal was not enough to hold off the comeback from the Californians at Championship Stadium in Irvine, California.
The two clubs had met just four days prior as the boys in blue posted a 3-1 win at Fort Finley. The Force needed three points to go second on the NISA table.
Head coach Rod Underwood made just one change to his starting eleven, bringing Juan Louis in on the wing. The Force made seven changes to their eleven that started at Finley.
The first half of the match had little to write home about. A tight mid-block from the hosts prevented interplay between Chattanooga’s midfield and attack, forcing long balls that proved largely ineffective against the Force defense. The Force offered little in attack in return, and it was clear that chances would be few and far between.
It took a set piece for the deadlock to be broken, with the first notable action of the match in the 66th minute. Alex McGrath’s inswinging corner was headed back into the fray by Ayden Bowers at the far post. Mutaya Mwape got to the ball first volleyed towards goal, putting too much power on his shot for the Force defense to clear the ball off the line. With the ball in the back of the net, Chattanooga was ahead 1-0.
The game immediately opened up, with the hosts pushing men forward in search of an equalizer. Three fresh players were subbed into the attack, bringing new energy into the match.
One of these subs, Francis Avoce, found his way onto the scoresheet in the 80th minute. Avoce found himself goal side of his marker to receive a cross at the near post, tapping the ball into the net from very close range. The Force awakened with a 1-1 scoreline.
Both teams went in search of a goal to break the equalizer, and it was the home side that found it in stoppage time. The Force drew a penalty in the 90th minute, and Francis Avoce stepped up to convert again. Taking a stutter step to see which way Jean Antoine would dive, Avoce tucked away his penalty, putting his team ahead 2-1.
Despite a frantic finish, Chattanooga could not find an equalizer. The game finished 2-1. A neutral observer would have a difficult time knowing who had the home field as the team that traveled 2,127 miles had the advantage in flags, fans, and noise.
"We need to refocus," said Underwood after the game. "The focus is forward and not backward. We've got a few days to recoup. We left it out there on the hard work. We've got some details we have to work on. But we can't fault anyone's hard work."
The loss was Chattanooga’s first of the season, ending a streak of 17 matches. Despite the result, the boys in blue remain 10 points clear at the top of the NISA table. The players will know they still have work to do to secure the top spot.
Chattanooga will have a chance to return to winning ways soon, as their west coast tour continues this Sunday, September 10th against Albion San Diego.
The next home game is Sunday, October 1 at Finley Stadium.
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.