Both the Birmingham Hammers and Chattanooga FC are hosting friendlies with the Chivas U-23 squad later this month.
“Playing someone as big as Chivas expands our reach and pushes ourselves against one of the best clubs in the world,” Sean McDaniel, General Manager of Chattanooga FC, said on the upcoming friendly.
Club Deportivo Guadalajara, commonly known as Chivas, is one of the most storied and successful clubs in the history of Mexican soccer, winning the Mexican first division eleven times. Chivas also remains one of two teams to never be relegated into the second division. The club, which is the only to utilize only Mexican players, has produced some of the country’s best soccer talent including Omar Bravo, Carlos Vela, and Javier Hernandez. The club will be showing some of its current young talent when the U-23s take on the two NPSL squads later this month.
The match-up will not be Chattanooga’s first experience in a friendly against a major club, as the club hosted an exhibition match with Atlanta United, the first time the team publicly played. CFC fought hard in the friendly, but eventually fell to the MLS upstarts. CFC is also no stranger to large crowds, setting a fourth tier attendance record in 2015 when 18,000+ were on hand to watch the NPSL Final between Chattanooga FC and New York Cosmos B, where Chattanooga fell to the Cosmos 3-2 after an extra-time goal for New York. For McDaniel, this exhibition will be right up there with the biggest matches in club history.
“I hope it’s going to be at least top five,” McDaniel added. “And it’s a great opportunity to reach a new demographic of soccer fan.”
For McDaniel, the exhibition is part of the club’s movement to go after big time matches and advance the game in the United States, and he hopes to see other clubs do the same.
“I think Chattanooga Football Club enjoys leading the charge,” McDaniel concluded. “All it does is advance the entire landscape of American soccer…we want everybody to have this and feel like they can, there are so many great communities that could and should embrace soccer like we have here in Chattanooga.”
The Birmingham Hammers are looking to help start and bring that culture to Birmingham, Alabama when they take on the Chivas U-23s.
“To bring a club of that stature to Birmingham is huge,” Hammers President/General Manager Morgan Copes said. “This is big for the soccer community in Birmingham.”
The game is not just important for the club off the pitch, but is equally important on the field.
“We really get to see where we measure up,” Copes continued. “Our guys who want to play professionally will get the chance to play against guys that will be playing professionally in at least a couple of years.”
From here? Copes wants to make sure to make everything work.
“It’s a big deal for us,” Copes concluded. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done this. We have to make sure we market it well and sell tickets.”
With a big name like Chivas coming to town, there’s little doubt that these friendlies will bring even more fans out to enjoy two local soccer clubs. Chattanooga FC will take on the Chivas U-23s on Saturday, May 27th at Finley Stadium with a 7:30 kickoff, while the Birmingham Hammers will take on the same squad on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th, at Samford University Soccer Stadium with a 6:00 start time.