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Preview: Chattanooga FC Looks to Build on Thrilling MLS NEXT Pro Opener

March 22, 2024 - MLS NEXT Pro (MLS NEXT Pro)
Chattanooga FC News Release


Chattanooga FC hosts FC Cincinnati 2 on Saturday, March 23rd at 3:00 p.m. ET in an Eastern Conference encounter.

Chattanooga Football Club got off to a flying start to life as an MLS NEXT Pro club when nearly 4,500 fans witnessed the club defeat regional rivals Huntsville City on penalties to win the extra point after the match ended in a draw after regulation.

The Boys in Blue next welcome FC Cincinnati 2 to Finley Stadium in a highly-anticipated Eastern Conference match and the only time the clubs will face each other in the regular season.

The club will be celebrating Women and Girls in Sports, presented by Markman's Diamonds. Before and during the match there will be moments of celebration and recognition for women and girls who work in sports, play in sports, and who support the club.

Fans can purchase match tickets here.

Sporting Director and Head Coach Rod Underwood reflected on the club's memorable home opener and how it has set his team up for the rest of the season.

"We wanted to make sure we started off on the right foot," said Underwood. "We didn't play anywhere near where we are capable of playing, but in terms of it being the first game out and with a great crowd, the atmosphere around the game was great for the fans, and we got two points. We got to see a few players who are new arrivals for us get a few minutes of game time, so there were a lot of positives around it."

Responding to Open Cup setback

Chattanooga FC were eliminated from the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this week after falling to Miami United in a narrow defeat.

"For us there are no excuses on our end," said Underwood. "Zero excuses. We had the quality in our group to make plays and win the game and we didn't. Now we all suffer the consequences as a group of not continuing on in an exciting competition, so we're disappointed about that."

Underwood and his coaching staff have been taking an analytical approach to the defeat, having individual and group discussions with players to address certain aspects of the defeat on Tuesday. The team is looking at that setback as an early opportunity to learn and grow.

The team is looking to continue to gel on and off the field to set up a strong foundation for the rest of the season.

"Our technical and tactical philosophy is that we believe in relational play. Players need to connect socially and understand each other. Off the field we encourage the players to spend time together, because it can't all come from the coaches. It has to be organic and come from the players. We don't want to manufacture something. We want it to be real and genuine. We want our players asking each other questions, and for them to be vulnerable with each other."

Underwood is expecting a tough challenge from an FC Cincinnati 2 team that picked up a point against Chicago Fire II in their opener.

"What I like about them is that you see that they mirror the way the first team tries to play, and that's really cool to see," said Underwood. "That's good for the league and it's good for development. I tip my hat to them. You see the way they play with intensity and with focus and their players are hoping to get minutes with the first team, which is the goal. They'll be a tough team. There's not an easy team in MLS NEXT Pro. They have talent and we respect that talent, but hopefully our talent will win out on the day."

Match info

Referees:

Anya Voigt

Head Referee

Jarred Mosher

Assistant Referee 1

Colin Ashley

Assistant Referee 2

Donovan Eubank

4th Official

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast on Apple TV MLS Season Pass

Audio stream: Fans can enjoy play-by-play audio of the match here.


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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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