Preview: Chattanooga FC and Greenville FC Face Off in the National Game of the Week
Tonight’s matchup between Chattanooga FC and Greenville FC is going to be one to remember. It has all the makings of a great match: talented players, exciting soccer, passionate supporters, and major playoff implications.
The Southeast Conference has been incredibly competitive this season and playoff positions are still in play.
“Without question this has been the most competitive season from top to bottom,” Chattanooga FC General Manager commented. “There are no easy matches, and we have to work hard every day to get results.”
Greenville FC COO Richard Carrizales II agreed.
“The Southeast Conference is easily one of the toughest conferences in the entire country. With teams like Chattanooga proving they can play and compete against MLS-caliber teams, to the level and depth of talent across the conference, no match is an easy one. I think that has shown in the results and standings this season, every game could go either way.”
Greenville’s first season in the NPSL has been a very memorable one.
“The best moment thus far has to be our home opener,” Greenville FC CEO and President Marco Carrizales added. “We drew over 2,000 people and have kept our average attendance at around 1,700 so far. Our home opener was special for us, and the city of Greenville. A proper soccer club is something we knew the community wanted for so long, and once they got it they came out in full support. That’s been evident with each and every game.”
While Greenville has experienced success on and off the field in their inaugural season, Chattanooga has been among the league leaders in attendance, on-field performance, and supporter culture for many years. Chattanooga broke the U.S. amateur soccer attendance record with 18,227 on hand for the 2015 NPSL National Championship final.
And CFC are always in the mix for conference and national titles. This year has been no different as they find themselves second in the conference with four games remaining.
This pairing is quite intriguing with so much on the line.
“We expect some strong competition,” McDaniel continued. “Greenville is a very talented team, even in their first year in the NPSL. For us, it’s our next to last home game, and nothing is promised after that. We want to give our supporters the best effort we can.”
“Chattanooga FC are never an easy team to play against,” Marco Carrizales added. “They are so well-supported and have a very talented side, a side that came to Greenville and left with only a point, so I know they will be out for three this time, but it’s up to us to take the match to them. We’ve done very well on the road this season and we look to continue that.”
It’s obvious that the action on the field will be enjoyed by many.
The hosts have a blend of new and returning players that have carried the team this season. Goalkeeper Phillip D’Amico has been very strong for CFC this season as a late addition to the team. He has really helped set the stage for a strong defensive back line. Everson Lima, who played in the second division of Brazilian soccer, is the anchor that holds the back four together. Midfielder Juan Hernandez dictates play and is incredibly skilled when it comes to possession, vision, and focus. Joao Costa, a Brazilian who can play both forward and attacking midfielder, has dominated the competition with his blazing speed and pinpoint accuracy.
Greenville has plenty of talent of their own.
Goalkeeper Austin Mullins has come in and made an immediate impact, getting the club’s first clean sheet of the season last weekend in Asheville. Center back and team captain Toby Sims has anchored the Green & Gold backline this season. Midfielder Jesus Ibarra, a recent signee to Greenville FC, has come in and made an impact immediately in the midfield, converting on a goal in his debut game against the Atlanta Silverbacks. Forward Regsan Watkins, the team’s leading scorer, will be looked to contribute in the attack.
It’s obvious that fans and supporters will be treated to some attractive and exciting soccer in this late June matchup.
“We are definitely a possession team, building the game from the back and tilting the field towards our opponents goal,” McDaniel said. “By applying constant pressure, we aim to break down defenses and score.”
“As a new club, it took us some time to get adjusted and acclimated to the competition, but we have really come into form these past few games,” Marco Carrizales continued. “We like to attack and keep the ball, but also understand the importance of being a strong defensive unit, so we are a very well-connected team that isn’t easy to get through.”
It’s clear that no one will want to miss this match. Whether you are heading out to Finley Stadium or watching the live stream, this game will showcase the best that the NPSL has to offer.
Photo Credit: Ray Soldano