Chattanooga's Brittney Reed and Kelly Downs dribble the ball down field past Mississippi's Jade Pennock during the women's Chattanooga Football Club versus Mississippi Fuego Football Club soccer game at Finley Stadium on May 18, 2014, in Chattanooga.Photo by Erin O. Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The Chattanooga Football Club men and women return to action this evening against the Knoxville soccer teams at Regal Stadium in Knoxville.
The CFC men (3-2-1) fully direct their attention to the National Premier Soccer League South Division, where they have a 2-1-1 record. They lost 5-0 Wednesday to the North American Soccer League's Atlanta Silverbacks, a professional side that ended CFC's run in the U.S. Open Cup.
Chattanooga FC had become the first NPSL team to defeat a professional club with its 3-1 win over the Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads of the United Soccer League Professional Division.
CFC men's coach Bill Elliott knows the Knoxville Force (0-3-1) are off to a bad start but feels they have the ability to be a dangerous opponent. Plus a rash of injuries suffered over the past couple of weeks have him slightly nervous.
"Knoxville is a talented team," Elliott said. "We're physically beat down, and now we have to go up there and get something out of the game. I thought at the beginning of the year that they would be one of the teams to beat, so we're going to have our hands full for more than one reason.
"The way the league is set up, you don't have enough time to prepare: You're just thrown into the fire of games. It is what it is, though; all you can do is play the games before you."
The Chattanooga women get the doubleheader started with their 5 p.m. kickoff against the Lady Force. CFC (0-2) is still looking for the first win of its inaugural women's season after falling 3-2 to Mississippi Fuego FC and 2-0 to FC Nashville, but coach Patrick Winecoff has been pleased that his team has been getting opportunities to score. They've outshot each of their opponents so far.
"It drives me nuts, but at the same time I'm not losing sleep because I'm happy with 75, 80 percent of it," Winecoff said. "The finishing end of it is the last thing that clicks on just about every team, so I know it's coming. You can do things in the training environment to speed it up. We have too many good, quality players not to eventually score an average number of the opportunities we're getting."
Winecoff said it's way too soon to be frustrated about the early lack of success.
"It's our first year, so we're just really trying to sort things out in terms of putting together the framework for this kind of team and this kind of league," he said. "It's not even that I really like to win. I just hate losing, because when you win, it's what you're supposed to do. When you lose, it's like 'what in the world?'
"It does bother me, but at the same time I'm trying to be measured about things."
Pensacola goes under
The NPSL received bad news Friday with the announcement that the Pensacola City club is done.
Reports had surfaced over the past week that there were frustrations between the club and the city about practice facilities, causing a boycott of all city businesses. Players had refused to practice earlier in the week because the facility secured by owner Bill Fetke was considered "too far away."
In addition, Fetke referenced a lack of fan support in the community as a factor.
"It's not one thing that happened," he said in a released statement. "It has been a progression of negative issues that when looked at as a whole made us determine that it is just not worth the headache. I am embarrassed to quit midseason, but why waste the extra money when we knew we were going to quit at the end of the season?"
CFC had a home match scheduled for next Friday against Pensacola City, which lost 1-0 when CFC visited the Florida team on May 25.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.