Chattanooga FC advances to US Open Cup
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Less than a year ago the Chattanooga FC played in their biggest game yet, falling just short in the NPSL Championship. Sunday night was a bigger game - a chance to earn a spot on the pitch at the U.S. Open Cup, the nation's biggest and most prestigious soccer tournament.
Only the Atlanta Silverbacks stood in the way.
The famed Chattahooligan crowd, which is growing every game, was a constant presence with their singing, chanting, and even an occasional taunting of the visiting side.
"I've just been blown away with their enthusiasm and support of the club," said injured Chattanooga goalie Juan Roblez. "I have played in many places, and have never seen anything like it. It's such an advantage to have a crowd like we do and it's fun to play in front of them."
The game was not just spirited in the stands, but also on the field. It was a very physical match with eight yellow cards and one red card handed out. In the 85th minute, Atlanta defender, Ramiro Canovas, had to be taken to the locker room to clean up his head after a violent head-to-head collision with Chattanooga defender Andy Stewart. He would return several minutes later with bandages covering most of his head and face.
Both teams had several chances to put the game away, but both goalies continued to play well and keep their teams in the game. In the 118th minute, a Chattanooga free kick was played to the far post. Defender Russell Courtney headed the ball back across the goal to a wide open Chris Ochieng who calmly chipped the ball over a diving goalie for the winning goal.
With the win, Chattanooga FC will now enter the Round of 32 for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The 97-year-old tournament began with 155 teams and will finish in October to crown the best team in the US.
"We should know within the next week or so who and where we are playing," said GM Sean McDaniel. "It will probably be a regional game against a USL team, but we don't know for sure yet."
Chattanooga FC is now 5-0-1 on the season and 2-0-1 in NPSL play. The next game is this Saturday in Florida against Jacksonville United FC. The next home game is June 18th against Rocket City United.
CFC is headed to the U.S. Open Cup.