The number of days since the Chattanooga Football Club’s last home match with fans in attendance. Following the start of a (still-ongoing) pandemic and multiple matches before empty seats, coach Peter Fuller and his players will finally have the backing of a home crowd when they take the pitch against the New York Cosmos.
“There’s no words. I hope that this whole thing has made people understand how important having fans and supporters in the stands really is,” coach Fuller said. “It’s a huge deal for the players on the field, and it’s the icing on the cake of what we do.”
“It’s what we’ve been waiting for all season. For us, going back to February, two days before the home opener we went into lockdown, so that was a bit of a letdown,” veteran wingback Richard Dixon said. “It’s been something we’ve been reaching for so many times, and finally we’ll have fans in the stands.”
Effort is rarely a problem for CFC, and it certainly won’t be an issue on Saturday night. Coaches and players alike have repeatedly spoken about how fans energize and motivate players during matches. They have all said it is important for the team to represent the city in an admirable way.
“People are going to get a chance to see a team that is really reflective of our fan base,” coach Fuller said. “A team that doesn’t ask for anything that isn’t theirs. They work hard for each other and take joy in the success we have as a group and don’t make a big deal out of individual success. Those are all makings of a team who can do something.”
The 2,000 or so fans who will probably go to game will get to watch one of the most storied clubs in American soccer history. As is usually the case, the Cosmos have an absolutely stacked roster, and are considered the class of the league. For instance, they employ wingback Ansi Agoli, who is an Albanian legend who has experience in the UEFA Champion’s League.
“It’s just another game and another chance to get three points,” Dixon said. “They’re a quality team, and we have to be on top of our game and bring our best to get points out of it. We look to the game as something we can truly measure ourself from.”
“You’re going to come against good players, and average players, and players who are not as good,” Dixon said. “At the end of the day, you still have to bring your A-game. It doesn’t’ matter where we play or who we play, we just have to bring our A-game every single day.”
Saturday’s match begins a grind to the end of the year, where the team will play five games in a little over two weeks. Following their last two games, CFC and the best of NISA will enter a “bubble” during the playoffs. For a team who has struggled with injuries over the last two months, the long layoff has been something of a blessing.
“That’s a lot of games and a lot of soccer,” said coach Fuller. “For us to do that successfully, we’ll need 20 field players to make it work. It’s a hard grind.”
CFC’s Saturday match kicks off at Finley Stadium at 7:30.