CFC's Mutaya Mwape pressures the Maryland goal Saturday night.
photo by Greg Davick
Coach Rob Underwood left his side untouched from its midweek win over Albion San Diego—looking to grow the gap between his team and the second place Bobcats. Chattanooga walked away with a 1-0 win.
CFC played in a 4-3-3 with its wingers and outside backs hugging the touchline to draw the defense wide and create space in between.
Maryland responded with a 4-4-2—giving it plenty of depth and allowing for natural double-teams out wide to try to contain CFC’s wingers.
Through the first half, the tactics seemed to be working.
Chattanooga dominated possession. Its backline would push high and move the ball around the midfield line before releasing it to Juan Louis and Mutaya Mwape out wide. The two would then promptly send it back where it came from and recycle the attack.
The lack of creativity and positive play on the wings left the possession fruitless and led to a scoreless first half.
Maryland was content to sit back and let CFC bring the game to them. The Bobcat’s only attacking options came from their two strikers running off each other on the break. This led to very little of the ball for the Bobcats but also the best chance of the half when Andrew Wivell found himself on the wrong side of his marker and sent a shot high from the top of the six-yard box.
The second half was a different story. Louis and Mwape started taking defenders on and finding space inside. This was evident early on when Mwape beat his man down the line and whipped in an outswinger that just skimmed off the head of striker Markus Naglestad.
This positive play gave the game life—leading to the first and only goal of the game in the 60th minute.
Louis received the ball out wide in transitions and cut inside to the top of the box. An unfortunate deflection sent the ball to the feet of Naglestad who was immediately brought down just outside the 18-yard line. Not to be denied—the legendary 9 curled the freekick through a gap in the wall and into the top right corner.
Now in the driver’s seat at 1-0 Chattanooga did what it does best—hold onto the ball and rely on its stellar defense.
A few half-chances came Maryland’s way through the course of the game—but nothing that challenged goalkeeper Jean Antoine on his way to securing his seventh clean sheet in eight league games.
The win concluded a weeklong stretch that saw CFC take home nine points in three games to extend its first-place lead over Maryland in the NISA table.
After the game Underwood spoke on his team’s ability to keep finding ways to win during a saturated part of the schedule saying, “Guys gotta make plays… that’s super important at this level”.
Underwood also pointed to the inexperience of his team and how he hopes to see the positive play shown in the second half grow to be the constant as the season goes on.
Chattanooga travels to Germantown, Maryland this Saturday to play the reverse fixture against the Bobcats. It will be without starting midfielder Alex McGrath who is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
Chattanooga FC 0 1 – 1
Maryland 0 0 – 0
Chattanooga- Markus Naglestad