The Chattanooga FC Men’s side got the better of USL Championship side Memphis 901 in the second round of the US Open Cup on Thursday night. The match had been years in the making, with the two clubs being drawn in the ill-fated 2020 rendition of the tournament and playing behind closed doors this preseason. A tactical masterclass from Rod Underwood and his crew resulted in a well deserved victory for the boys in blue.
There were two sides to the coin in this matchup. For the casual observer, Memphis 901’s 63% possession, paired with a whopping 22 shots, would imply that Memphis bossed the game and Chattanooga were lucky to come away with the result. However, Memphis’s possession didn’t really result in any threat. Below is a cumulative Expected Goals chart for the game. For each shot taken, you can see the quality of the chance by how much the line jumps. We can see that Chattanooga were very good at creating high quality chances, while Memphis took lots more shots but none of real quality. The Chattanooga defense was set up perfectly to prevent Memphis from getting any good looks on goal.
It’s also worth looking at the territorial possession below. Chattanooga had very little presence in their attacking half, which I think speaks volumes to the quality the attackers possessed to generate such high quality chances from so little. Inversely, big props to the defense for seeing so much opposition possession in their own half but really preventing any high quality chances. As the great Jose Mourinho said, “Memphis can take the ball home, but we’ll take the third round berth.”
I think we can place special notice on set pieces- there was obviously some extra work put in this week to generate chances from these and Memphis were not prepared. Also, despite the low possession, Chattanooga employed an excellent pressing style that paid immediate dividends for the first goal and prevented Memphis from settling into the match. Well done Chattanooga.
Taylor Gray was voted man of the match- I personally had it between Brett Jones, who spearheaded the press and was instrumental in the first two goals, and Richard Dixon, the captain who did a wonderful job organizing the stout defense and worked hard to break up the Memphis play. If we could give MOTM to all the players we would, they all deserve it after so thoroughly besting a team in the tier above.
What’s next in the Open Cup? I would love to finally play our cross town rivals… nevermind. Chattanooga FC travels away to defending Open Cup champions Atlanta United for the chance to cause an even greater upset. Regardless of the result, we can be immensely proud of the guys at CFC.