CFC Shreds Louisville In Exhibition Match
Sunday, October 18, 2020 - by Joseph Dycus
Alec Reddington is not the tallest keeper, standing in at just a shade under six feet. However, what he lacks in height he makes up for with his all-world agility. In the 33rd minute of CFC’s 5-2 romp over Metro Louisville, he got to show off a bit for the home crowd. Facing a penalty taker, the pink-clad keeper crouched low, and then dove even lower to his right to save a shot some see as an inevitability.
But while the keeper was stellar, it took a while for Chattanooga FC to get into form, at least offensively.
Metro Louisville may be an inexperienced squad, but perhaps that youth benefited a team that didn’t seem to know they were supposed to crumple before the southern powerhouse. Metro stunned CFC in the third minute, when an innocuous corner turned into a 1-0 lead for the visiting team.
CFC looked dazed for the first 15 or so minutes, with passes going everywhere but to their intended target. Spacing was atrocious as well, as players would be bunched together and easy targets for a swarming defense. However, after a few minutes, the team in white took a few deep breaths and began to apply pressure to their blue and gold adversaries.
In the 15th minute, striker Darwin Lom noticed a pass back from Metro’s midfield was slightly errant. He treated that pass like Wildcat does a Jarret Guarantano slant route and picked the ball before blasting toward the goal line. Metro was forced to foul, and Lom converted the penalty to tie the game.
After this, CFC began to exploit Metro Louisville’s spacious midfield defense and nonexistent backline, repeatedly taking off on fastbreaks. If not for some frankly incredible one-on-one saves by Metro’s goalkeeper Justin Odozor, Chattanooga FC would have bagged at least a half-dozen goals before the halftime whistle. As CFC poured in goals, the socially-distanced Chattahooligans were as loud as usual on the crisp autumn night.
“It’s great to play in front of some fans,” Lom said after the match. “The season is almost over, but we have one more game to play next week, and hopefully we finish well and off on the right foot.”
Clayton Adams may not score often, but when he does, he sends rockets into the net from at least 20 yards away. He continued this trend in the 25th minute, when Odozor made yet another terrible effort at distributing the ball and sent it straight to Adams. The stocky and powerful shooter lasered the ball in a diagonal pattern from left to right, with the ball staying along the ground all the way past the keeper and into the net.
After Reddington’s amazing save in the 34th minute, CFC embarked on another showtime fastbreak in the 39th minute. With Zeca, Darwin Lom, and Ian McGrath looking like sterling imitations of Worthy, Magic, and Scott, Chattanooga FC knifed downfield with aplomb.
Lom ran point and drove the ball downfield. As the defense closed in on the Guatemalan, he passed to CFC icon Zeca on his right side. Zeca may have had an a look at goal, but he instead passed up a good shot for a great shot. He crossed the ball back across field and into the waiting presence of McGrath. The lanky attacker came in from the left wing and finished off one of CFC’s finest goals of the season.
Louisville made things interesting right before halftime, with Cyrus Harmon slipping through the CFC back four before taking a straight on shot from several yards away. Now nursing only a 3-2 lead, CFC needed to put the game away in the second half. And put Louisville away they did, even if Brian Bement’s missed penalty kick presented a brief setback in the 51st minute.
Bement redeemed himself ten minutes later, after Metro’s leaky transition defense gifted CFC with another scoring opportunity. Bement raced down the left sideline, beating his defender before disposing of the keeper. All that Ian McGrath needed to do on the opposite side of the field was tap the ball in for a gift-wrapped goal.
Defender Nick Spielman was awarded the player of the match award, and it was much-deserved. Even though Chattanooga allowed two goals to slip by, they were mostly-solid in the back and snuffed out any Louisville attack before it was able to gain momentum.
Bement finished the scoring in the 83rd minute with on last counterattack goal, and the final tally read CFC 5, visitors 2. Even though the exhibition did not contribute to any sort of cup competition or playoff race, it was still meaningful for the players.
“Some people are playing for their contract for next season,” Lom said. “I wish everyone could stay here, and I love every single person here. But it’s a business, and it always comes to the team progressing and getting better. We were so close to winning the championship this year, and next year maybe that happens.”
Chattanooga FC plays against the Maryland Bobcats next week at Finley Stadium.