James' First Half Hat Trick Key In CFC 6-2 Win Over Miami CF II

  • Sunday, April 14, 2024
A spectacular first-half hat-trick from forward Jalen James propelled Chattanooga FC to a 6-2 victory over Inter Miami CF II in front of nearly 4,000 fans at Finley Stadium.

James opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a composed finish in the bottom corner before adding two late in the half. Captain Alex McGrath scored in each half for a brace and to take his season tally to three and substitute Ethan Koren scored his first professional goal in stoppage time in a highly-entertaining encounter that handed Miami its first defeat of the season.

Sporting Director and Head Coach Rod Underwood made just one change to the starting line-up from the last match at New York City FC, bringing in James in for Jesus Ibarra.

James' first goal, which came moments after Duvan Viafara made a crucial, last-ditch tackle to prevent a dangerous Miami counter-attack, was from a tight angle and showcased the forward's finishing prowess.

Miami equalized in the 12th minute with Alejandro Flores finishing off a counter-attack, but after both sides exchanged chances as the half worn, Chattanooga FC opened the floodgates.

James turned provider in the 35th minute when he found just enough space to flick in a short cross for McGrath to head CFC back in the lead.
Five minutes later, James had his second of the evening when he ventured into the penalty area before Taylor Gray found him with a pass and James quickly opened up his body and curled in a shot past the helpless Owen Finnerty.

His hat-trick was complete before referee Elvis Osmanovic blew for half-time. James made a darting run into the penalty area to get on the end of Milo Garvanian's whipped in cross and he headed in from close range.

Miami got back to within a couple of goals of CFC in the 59th minute when Ryan Carmichael scored his second of the season. Jonathan Burke made aa crucial save in the 70th minute to help CFC maintain a two-goal cushion, and McGrath and Koren ultimately put the result beyond doubt. McGrath got on the end of Mehdi Ouamri's cross in the 71st minute—Ouamri had two assists on the night—and Koren combined with fellow substitute Carlos Rivas to break away and poke past Finnerty in stoppage time.

Chattanooga FC will next travel to fellow Southeast Division side Huntsville City FC on Saturday, April 20 for an 8:00 p.m. ET kick-off.
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