Chattanooga’s Member’s Cup debut against the New York Cosmos was inches away from ending in a draw. However, the northern powerhouse finally broke through in the 83rd minute. After a CFC defender grappled and fouled a Cosmo in the box, New York’s Junior Burgos launched a penalty kick toward the top right corner of goal. It flew past the defensive wall and just inches away from Phil D’Amico’s outstretched mitts.
This late score gave the Cosmos the point they needed to secure three more in the standings, as CFC fell on their home turf of Finley Stadium. But despite the outcome, Chattanooga coach Bill Elliott still took time to give praise to his team’s opponent..
“It was a really good game,” he said, “They’re a really great team, and they’re the kind of team we want to play.”
The first half was a scoreless one, highlighted by missed chances and wondrous goalkeeping. While CFC dominated possession, the goals just weren’t there. Chattanooga’s peerless midfielder Zeca was sensational, dashing through the defense while creating chances for his teammates. Of course, the New York Cosmos showed why they were the second-best team in the NPSL when they stymied every shot Costa and company tried to get past the Cosmos’ keeper.
“It was a tough loss, especially at home, but we’ve got to continue on, since we have another game next week,” said Zeca.
Juan Sanchez got a decent crack at turning a zero into a one when he attempted a free kick right in front of the goal. Unfortunately for Chattanooga, his volley boinked off the top crossbar and skied harmlessly into the back concourse.
Perhaps the most interesting moment of the first half came when Zeca was “awarded” a yellow card. With the ball in the air, Zeca jumped to gain possession, and in the process knocked a Cosmos defender out of the air like a middle linebacker nailing a slot receiver on a crossing pattern. While a few words were exchanged during the brief scrum, cooler heads prevailed and no fight occurred.
The defense was sterling throughout the match, holding the usually-potent New York offense scoreless for most of the match. Jordan Dunstan and company mirrored their opposition, and suffocated New York’s forwards in the final third. The 62nd minute saw the long-awaited return of Genki Miyachi, when the defensive-midfielder entered the match for Joao Costa.
“We’re glad to have him back,” said coach Elliott, “He’s going to be a big player, I’m sure of it, but he’s been out for 12 weeks. So for him to get a few minutes tonight is important for the weeks to come.”
The CFC’s frustrating offensive night continued during the 70th minute. Alun Webb ripped down the sideline and received a pass. Because he was not called offsides, the forward was able to continue his trek toward the goal. As he approached goal from the right side, he began slicing in. His slick run amounted to nothing though, as his inevitable shot sailed wide left of the pipes.
After 83 minutes of scoreless play, New York finally broke through with Burgos’ score. After this, New York withstood a series of last-minute surges by CFC, with Chattanooga coming inches away from scoring in stoppage time. Alun Webb lined up a free ball in the box and attempted to head it in. Unfortunately for Chattanooga, the ball sailed over the bar and New York held on for the victory.
“I think New York showed up here and thought they were going to have an easy game,” said Zeca, “And we proved to them that we’re as hard as any team to get points away from at their home.”
Chattanooga squares off against Detroit City next Saturday, and the match kicks off at 7:30.