Chattanooga FC has a chance to take six points away from a pair of California teams this week when they play Los Angeles Force on Wednesday and San Diego 1904 FC on Saturday. CFC rebounded from a scoreless home draw against Maryland with a 2-0 win over New Amsterdam on Saturday, and the return of a couple of their many injured players played a key role.
Winger James Kasak notched two assists after missing the last couple of months with various leg injuries, and dominated the left side with his pace and decisive moves.
After struggling through the last few NISA matches, the CFC offense benefited greatly from his creativity on-ball.
“He’s so fast and he can beat anyone one-on-one,” said forward Sean Hoffstatter, who was on the end of one of Kasak’s assists. “So when you see him with the ball, you give him the space and let him take it inside if he has the space.”
Chattanooga’s attack should only further improve once they get forward Brian Bement back from suspension. Alongside midfielder Ian McGrath, Bement forms a potent attacking pair on longballs and direct passes.
“He’s a good pro, and he’s taken good care of himself when he’s not been playing and all of that,” coach Peter Fuller said. “He’s done a terrific job. He’ll get right back into the mix.”
Richard Dixon’s return on Saturday was another boon for CFC. The veteran defender and ‘coach on the field’ has been a sporadic presence due to injuries, and he solidified their back line in his return against New Amsterdam.
“He’s the biggest leader on the team, and to get him fully back and fit is huge for us,” midfielder James Kasak said. “He’s a huge piece of the puzzle.”
Coach Fuller noted that while injuries can harm a team, they can also provide opportunities for other players. This has been the case for goalkeeper Alec Reddington, who has made a multitude of saves and stops since filling in for injured starter Phil D’Amico.
“Red’s doing a good job, and I’m pleased with him,” coach Fuller said. “When you have injuries and suspensions, somebody’s bad is someone else’s good. The next man up mentality has to be there. When it comes to distribution, he’s simplified it a little bit, and we’ve given him specific options of what to do and what not to do. He’s adhering to it.”
Chattanooga FC’s depth will be further tested in the next two games, and coach Fuller says fans should expect to see different lineups as the team eases in returning players.
“It’s a tough stretch of three days in eight days, so there will probably be guys who rest and other guys who will start on Wednesday night,” coach Fuller said. “We need to get the rotation right, since we’ve got guys coming back from injury.”
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