Just like two years ago, the Chattanooga Football Club is a win away from its first National Premier Soccer League championship.
In 2010, playing a short distance from home in Madison, Ala., the then second-year club fell to the Sacramento Gold in the title game. Now, much further away at Del Norte High School in San Diego, CFC gets another shot.
This time the opponent is FC Sonic, of Lehigh Valley, Pa. The game will start at 3 p.m. EST and can be watched online at SDSPSoccermarketing.com. Chattanooga FC is trying to give the Southeast Conference back to back champions after Jacksonville United FC won the NPSL title last season.
"The players really want to win for the [CFC board of directors] and the fans," first-year coach Bill Elliott said. "They know how much the fans and the board have put into supporting the team. ... I'm sure everyone would be extremely excited to get that payoff that you always want.
"We can do that with a win."
CFC (8-1-3) beat the Bay Area Ambassadors 3-2 on Friday night. Phil Beene had a goal and an assist on Grant Rardon's header that gave CFC a 2-0 lead at the half. Luis Trude scored what proved to be the game-winner in the second half.
After having the upper hand throughout the first half, CFC had to deal with a different Bay Area squad in the second.
"They started playing with four forwards, only three defenders, and were playing obviously very aggressive -- desperate, even," Elliott said. "No matter how good you are, that's always tough to defense. But, when you do that it also leaves the other team open to attack and that's when Luis got his goal."
FC Sonic reached today's game with a 2-0 win over the Madison (Wis.) 56ers, scoring both goals in the second half. Goals for CFC might be tough to come by because it will be facing Charlie Sales, who on Friday was named the NPSL Goalkeeper of the Year.
Unlike the semifinal game against Bay Area, in which Elliott knew virtually nothing about CFC's opponent, the first-year coach was able to do some scouting Friday. Of course, FC Sonic was also able to see what CFC could do.
"I was able to see them play [Friday] and they're a good team, just like you'd expect to see when you're playing for a national championship," Elliott said. "They were completely superior to their opponent [in the semis]."
Elliott said the team planned to do some light jogging and stretching at the beach Saturday, a "Chariots of Fire" moment, perhaps, before playing its last game of the season.