Chattanooga FC went on the road to West Division leaders Valley United FC and came home with a point after a goalless draw on Friday night. The visitors were out shot 15-3 (4-1 on target) but held on against an in-form Valley side.
Chattanooga FC struggled to get the ball forward in the match with Valley United employing a very effective pressing style that kept CFC pinned in their own half. While CFC actually ended up with more possession, it was hardly in threatening areas and the forwards were rarely involved.
In terms of chance creation, Chattanooga only had one big chance in each half, where Brett Jones did his usual solo run and quick shot in the first half and an outstretched Alex McGrath *just* missed the target in the second half. Valley United, on the other hand, created loads of chances- or should I say CFC gifted them loads of chances? CFC was determined to play out of the back, but they conceded chance after chance from giving the ball away cheaply much to close to their own goal.
The match almost seemed like a mirror image of the Memphis game last week. Rather than sitting back and respecting Memphis like might be expected, CFC took the game to Memphis with pressure that conceded possession but not in dangerous areas. The same happen with Valley United- they had less possession, but ran the game territorially, not allowing CFC into dangerous areas. Just speculating, maybe Rod Underwood & Co. were not expecting the high press from Valley and the subsequent need for such tight passing around the back. CFC are lucky to leave Mesa with a point.
That point comes in large part thanks to the work of Kevin Gonzalez, who was named man of the match after facing four shots on target and saving them all to keep his first clean sheet of the season. KG also came off his line to make a number of crucial claims, marking his territory in the 18 and a little beyond. Well done Kevin!
With this, Chattanooga FC sit fourth in the East Division, but there’s not too much to worry about. Maryland already have 7 points, but 6 are against the two worst teams in the division. Inversely, we’ve now taken a point off Maryland and Western leaders Valley. There’s still a lot to play for but we’ve gotten a few of the tougher games out of the way early.
Next up CFC face the big boys in Atlanta United- let’s hope for heavy rotation and lots of luck. See you in Kennesaw Wednesday!
Note: I’ve been asked to do match recaps for the official CFC website. For more formal, less speculative summaries, visit the website.