After posting two home wins last weekend to clinch a spot in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup, starting tonight the Chattanooga Football Club will play three road games in 11 days.
Chattanooga FC (4-0-1) plays tonight at Jacksonville (Fla.) United, followed by another National Premier Soccer League game next Saturday against Rocket City United in Huntsville. On June 14, CFC will face the Pittsburgh Rounders in the Open Cup.
"It's definitely a tough stretch," CFC coach Brian Crossman said.
Chattanooga FC is tied for first in the NPSL Southeast Division with the Georgia Revolution. CFC already has a 2-0 win over Jacksonville (0-4), and defender John Calderwood said he didn't think the looming Open Cup debut would be a distraction for the team.
"I think we all know what we have to do over the next couple of weeks," he said. "Every game's a big game to us."
Now that he's seen most of the teams in the Southeast Division, Crossman said he thought the division was, overall, stronger this season than in 2010, when CFC won the regular-season title. The key, he said, will be how teams handle the inevitable attrition they will face.
"You always have some guys leaving and maybe going back to their home country, or they get injured," he said.
Chattanooga FC has faced some adversity already: Fynn Glover, a starter in the midfield the previous two seasons, opted not to play this season; forward Irvin Espinal recently quit the team; and goalkeeper Juan Robles suffered an MCL injury last Friday in his first start of the season.