Top-ranked Chattanooga FC extended its unbeaten streak to seven with a 0-0 draw with the Michigan Stars from Detroit on Saturday night. The Stars came to Finley Stadium to play defense and narrowly survived against a possession hungry Chattanooga side.
Chattanooga FC possessed the ball through large swathes of the first half, but the Stars set up to frustrate the home team. The boys in blue faced a high block and high press that didn’t allow the team to push forward often. When the Chattanooga men broke through the Michigan ranks, the Stars were quick to tackle in efforts to dispossess Chattanooga, often successful but often conceding dangerous free kicks.
CFC forward Markus Naglestad had two tries on goal from free kicks, each going just narrowly wide of the Michigan post. Michigan offered little in terms of offense in the first half, more concerned about nullifying Chattanooga’s threat than scoring themselves.
Brett Jones came into the game at half time for CFC, hoping to stretch the Michigan defense with runs in behind. For a while there wasn’t much action, but Chattanooga started to pin in the Stars around the 70th minute. The Stars masterfully managed the game, fouling and going to ground when needed to prevent Chattanooga from getting momentum. Jones created some great chances, forcing the keeper into two saves and drawing a goal-saving foul from the keeper, but the ball never quite found the back of the net. The Stars were lucky to end the game with eleven men with the quantity of cards accumulated and the leniency of the center ref.
Tate Robertson won the fans' vote as Man of the Match for his participation in a rock-solid backline that worked hard to pin in the Michigan attack and keep possession for much of the game. Kevin Gonzalez did his part in securing his fourth clean sheet of the season, and his third in the last four matches. While he had to use his feet more often than his hands, the few shots that Michigan had were well dealt with. Naglestad’s incredible six game scoring streak came to an end as the team couldn’t quite break down a solid defensive block.
Chattanooga FC remain five points clear atop the East Division on its seven-game unbeaten run. CFC host the Syracuse Pulse, led by former CFC head coach Peter Fuller, on Saturday, July 2nd.