The Chattanooga Football Club kicked off its fifth season Saturday night at Finley Stadium. The men's amateur soccer squad didn't get the 5,000 fans it was hoping for in the Year 5 launch, but it did get five goals in an easy win.
Playing in front of a spirited group of fans -- the announced attendance was 2,720 -- that included the diehard Chattahooligans, as well as numerous teams from the Chattanooga FC Academy, CFC routed Rocket City United 5-0.
"You can't ask for much better than that," CFC coach Bill Elliott said, "at the start, middle or end of the season.
The defending National Premier Soccer League South Conference champions needed less than two minutes to get on the scoreboard. A new addition this season, Thibault Charney -- one of two Parisians in the starting lineup -- put a shot past Rocket City goalkeeper Stephen Lunney.
Charney was involved in the second score as well, flipping a pass to Luke Winter for a header goal in the 63rd minute. Elliott went to his bench after that, and Jose Ferraz scored twice in less than six minutes to make it 4-0.
Chris Ochieng, who joined the team Friday, got a goal in the closing minutes to make it 5-0. A fan favorite, Ochieng is back with CFC this season after playing in a different league last summer.
Winter said it's a good sign when the bench gets three goals.
"We worked hard, we tired [Rocket City] and the boys came in off the bench and they were super," he said. "It was just what we needed."
CFC keeper Greg Hartley had a light night, fending off RC United's only two dangerous shots on goal.
Chattanooga FC enters its fifth season hoping to improve upon last season on the field, where it advanced to the NPSL championship game for the second time. In the stands and concourse, CFC is trying to recapture some of the atmosphere and flavors of its first two seasons.
After a two-year absence, the food trucks were back in the concourse Saturday. One sold pizza, another sandwiches and a third tacos.
"We fought very, very hard to get them back here because it was a very, very prominent element of our surveys that we did after our first year," CFC co-founder and board member Tim Kelly said. "We feel like it makes a big difference to the game-day environment."
Beer sales also make a difference, and this season club partner Big River is selling a "Chattahooligan" beer.
CFC won't have much time to rest before beginning U.S. Open Cup play Tuesday, with a first-round game at the Greensboro, N.C.-based Carolina Dynamo of the USL Premier Development League.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.