Chattanooga FC 1 Michigan Stars FC 0: Nooga by the Numbers 2021 Rewind

Chattanooga FC came out on top in their final home game of the Fall 2021 season with a one-nil win over Michigan Stars FC courtesy of Damien Rodriguez’s first goal of his professional career. Three points were needed to keep CFC’s hopes of a top half finish alive and that’s exactly what the players and fans got on a cold night at Finley Stadium.

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The game was a tale of two halves as CFC were quick off the blocks at the beginning of the game, dominating proceedings especially for the opening 25 minutes. CFC ended the first half with just about 60% of the possession, in threatening areas too. Michigan Stars failed to capitalize on a few dangerous fast breaks, and were ultimately punished when Damien Rodriguez slotted home in the 29th minute. Both defenses worked well in general to prevent that final pass needed to get a shot away, with only a few, high quality chances coming along. The game in general felt pretty slow- the ball was dead for nearly 18 minutes in the first half, with all sorts of throw ins and goal kicks being taken with no rush (for reference, the ball was dead for only 10 minutes in the first half of CFC v Stumptown).

The Stars realigned in the second half as Michigan flipped the possession script, holding the ball for much of the half in the middle of the park. In this flurry of possession, the Stars generated 1.07 xG, including a justly awarded penalty that was smashed onto the bar by Kyle Nuel. Alec Redington was called into action to make a few crucial saves in the dying moments of the game, ensuring that his clean sheet remained intact. Once again the game was played without much urgency, especially from the lead holders CFC. It felt like the ball was in Redington’s gloves most of the half, whether from claiming a cross or taking his time on a spot kick. Both keepers were bold in coming off their lines; the Stars’ penalty came from a failed Redington claim, and Zimbabwean international keeper Tatenda Mkuruva nearly crossed the halfway line a few times to win the ball. They both had me nervous!

Overall, Chattanooga FC may consider themselves lucky to walk away with three points; the Stars generated plenty of chances and Kyle Nuel was unlucky to miss his penalty attempt as well as a one-on-one chance in the first half that he fired over the bar. However, CFC were rewarded for their high press from the first whistle. The true star of the night was Damien Rodriguez, showing that dreams do come true as the Dalton native took his chance to shine with a goal in the 29th minute.

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