Jose "Zeca" Ferraz says he can still hear the noise and feel the energy of an unforgettable match between the New York Cosmos and the Chattanooga Football Club held on Aug. 8, 2015.
"I daydream and dream about that championship match a lot still," said Zeca, who is CFC's leading scorer this season and one of only two left for the club who played in that title game four years ago. "It was a magical moment to play in front of nearly 20,000 fans at Finley.
"I carry those memories with me to this day. I will tell my kids and grandkids about it. Even though we lost 3-2 in extra time, we held our heads high and made the city so proud that day and year."
For the first time since that national championship game, the Cosmos return to Finley Stadium for a 7:30 match Saturday night to kick off the National Premier Soccer League's Members Cup.
The Cosmos recently lost 3-1 to Miami FC in the 2019 national championship match and will go up against a well-rested CFC bunch eager to make a statement.
Juan Hernandez had a role in both scores in the NPSL final in 2015, his debut season with Chattanooga FC.
"CFC is special and everyone who has been a part of the club has felt it," Hernandez said. "That championship match was one of the most beautiful memories in my time here. The city cares so much about the team, and the team cares a lot about the city. It's a special bond."
While Chattanooga FC is looking into the option of playing its seasons in 2020 and beyond in the soon-to-debut National Independent Soccer Association, which is a professional league in tier three of US Soccer, the focus now for the players is to handle business and try to win the Members Cup.
Tonight's match will be the first of 10 CFC games in Members Cup play, which lasts until Oct. 26. CFC will travel to Brooklyn, New York, to play the Cosmos on Sept. 28.
"We have been hungry to play them again here," Hernandez said. "We are a good club and unfortunately lost to the national champion in the NPSL playoffs. We want to win the Members Cup title and continue to represent our club at a high standard."
Looking to strike in a big way, Zeca and company are excited to add to the history between the two accomplished clubs who have combined to play in six national finals.
"It should be a classic game between two teams that have been a standard for lower leagues in the United States," Zeca said. "We are prepared and I believe the more experienced team. We are going to have another go at them at home and maybe get a taste of vengeance."
USL League One's Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (7-5-7) are visiting South Georgia Tormenta (8-4-6) for a match at 7 tonight.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.