The quality of play produced by the Chattanooga Football Club with Rod Underwood as coach has earned the New Orleans native a contract extension through the 2025 season.
Honored as the National Independent Soccer Association's coach of the year after his debut season in 2022, the 55-year-old Underwood has Chattanooga FC off to an incredible start in year two.
At 10-0-4 and with 34 points in the NISA standings, CFC is atop the nine-team league with a 10-point advantage, and its goal differential of plus-20 was 12 better than any other team entering Friday. CFC will play its first of 10 matches remaining on the regular-season schedule when the Savannah Clovers (1-9-2) visit Finley Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
"I am thankful for God, who has allowed this door to open," Underwood said in a news release Friday announcing the extension. "My wife's support allows me to be involved in a sport I have done all my life. It is an honor and privilege to be trusted by this club and have the support of the city."
Underwood is 24-3-11 overall in NISA regular-season contests with CFC, which has outscored its competition 69-26 in those matches.
He has coached at every level of American soccer, including time as an assistant for Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, and has also spent time with professional clubs in Jamaica and Sierra Leone. He won two USL Pro Championships — one as an assistant with the Sacramento Republic FC and one as head coach of the Albuquerque Geckos.
"We are incredibly fortunate to have Coach Underwood at Chattanooga FC for two more years," Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, a co-founder and former chairman of CFC, wrote in a text message to the Times Free Press. "The quality of his coaching and leadership is reflected not only in the team's win-loss record, but in the attitudes and conduct of his players on and off the field. And in an era when people of color are under-represented in leadership positions in professional sports, his ability to do all this in Chattanooga makes me especially proud."
After losing 1-0 to the Michigan Stars in an NISA semifinal last October at Finley Stadium, Underwood's team appears head and shoulders stronger than its competition so far this season, CFC's fourth in the professional league after spending its first 11 years as an amateur club with four national runner-up finishes.
Still on the to-do list is a first NISA title.
"Coach Underwood has what it takes for Chattanooga FC to keep building for the future and get us a championship," club CEO Alton Byrd said in the team's release. "His strength, poise and class both on and off the pitch are the standard we are looking for, and I am glad that we are able to continue our relationship with him. He is a huge asset to the club as well as the city."
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