Three days after opening its National Premier Soccer League schedule with a 5-0 rout, the Chattanooga Football Club turns its attention tonight to the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Chattanooga FC will face the Carolina Dynamo of the USL Premier Development League in Greensboro, N.C. After shutting out Rocket City United in the opener last Saturday, CFC left Finley Stadium a confident squad.
"Every attacking player that played got a goal or an assist, and that's quite exciting," CFC forward Luke Winter said after the opener. "We have a lot of quality on the whole team, 15 to 18 players. I think this season we're going to have a strong team, a whole team, which is exciting."
One player CFC won't have tonight is sweeper Andy Stewart, now a teacher in Johnson City. That's a loss, coach Bill Elliott said, because Stewart, in his fourth CFC season, is the captain and "the heart and soul" of the team.
Elliott is counting on CFC's depth, which was demonstrated in the opener with three of the five goals and solid defensive play coming from the reserves.
"What I think everybody saw [Saturday] was we have players on the bench as good or almost as good as the players that are starting," Elliott said. "We've got a lot of good players, and hopefully they can go and get the job done."
The Dynamo and CFC have much in common. Their rosters are comprised of collegiate players for the most part, they both lost in their league championship games last season and they both started the 2013 season with a shutout victory. Carolina blanked Virginia Beach 3-0 in its season opener Saturday.
This will be CFC's second Cup appearance. After hosting and winning a qualifying round in 2011, the club lost in the first round to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a USL pro squad, 3-2 in overtime.
Chattanooga FC automatically qualified for this year's Cup by winning the NPSL South Conference last season.