Fresh off a hard-to-swallow overtime loss Tuesday in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup, the Chattanooga Football Club is back on the road tonight in its return to National Premier Soccer League play.
It's a game loaded with connections and crossovers.
Chattanooga FC will be facing a new NPSL Southeast division opponent, the Gulfcoast Texans based in Pensacola, Fla. This is their first season in the league and they are coached by Felipe Lawall, who played for CFC last season and played for CFC coach Bill Elliott, and was his assistant, at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
Four of Elliott's current Argonauts are playing for the Texans this summer.
"There's a lot of crossover for me," said Elliott, who also is a club coach for the Texans. "I want good things for those guys that I've coached and spent time with, yet somebody's going to be unhappy at the end of the night. And I'm used to being all unhappy together or all happy together."
While Elliott and Lawall know each other inside and out, CFC also will be facing two former teammates in midfielder Luis Trude and Carl Reynolds. Reynolds is listed as Lawall's assistant coach, but Elliott expects him to play.
CFC, which fell to the Carolina Dynamo 5-4 on penalty kicks Tuesday night, in Greensboro, N.C., didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. The team took a bus to Pensacola on Friday and practiced that afternoon.
While CFC has basically practiced twice and played two games so far this season, it will be match-tested. That won't be the case for the Texans, who open their season tonight.
CFC will have Greg Hartley back in goal tonight but again will be without sweeper Andy Stewart, as well as several other players.
"I don't expect this [personnel fluctuation] to be the norm like it was last year," Elliott said, "but a big part of this was the Carolina trip. Several of our players can't miss work twice in one week, and they chose to make the Carolina trip."
Elliott said tonight's game is one he just wants to survive. After tonight, the team will finally get on a schedule and have stability going into the rest of the season.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.