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Chattanooga FC's Gabriel Gonzalez, back to camera, is congratulated by Felipe Oliveira, right, and Max Wilschrey, left, after scoring in the first half of Sunday's exhbition soccer match against Guatemala's CSD Municipal at Ridgeland High School in Rossville.
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Chattanooga FC against CSD Municipal

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ROSSVILLE — One of Guatemala's most decorated fútbol managers was impressed by the play of the Chattanooga Football Club in a 1-1 draw against CSD Municipal on Sunday evening at Ridgeland High School.

Even with a depleted lineup for the friendly exhibition, CFC turned heads less than 24 hours after beating Asheville City SC 3-1 in a National Premier Soccer League match at Finley Stadium. Saturday night's win was CFC's sixth straight and helped strengthen its position atop the NPSL South Region's Southeast Conference standings.

"Chattanooga is very dangerous," said Municipal manager Horacio Cordero, who has won six championships in Guatemala and has coached both Guatemala's and Costa Rica's men's national soccer teams. "They are so fast on the outside and presented a good challenge for us as we get ready for our regular season back home."

Early in the match, CFC's Nathaniel Bedai slid to cut off an oncoming "Los Rojos" attacker and cleared ahead to Max Wilschrey, who beat three defenders in the midfield to find Felipe Oliveira as he raced down the left sideline.

Oliveira created problems frequently for the Municipal defense, but it was Gabriel Gonzalez who scored for CFC, sending the ball into the right side of the net in the 22nd minute. Playing a team with 30 domestic league titles and a CONCACAF Champions' Cup was surreal for the Switzerland native.

"It's a goal I will always remember," said Gonzalez, who played his final two college seasons at Tennessee Wesleyan in Athens and was a senior last fall. "Every time we have a chance like this, we take all we can from it. We are transitioning to go pro this year, and it helps a lot.

"It's also great for our community because we have a major Guatemalan population that loves soccer."

Municipal scored on a corner kick in the 40th minute. Carlos Gallardo powered a shot in with his left foot from the top left of the 18-yard box.

After entering as a second-half substitute, talented CFC striker Jose "Zeca" Ferraz had two close attempts deflected in front of the goal. Markus Smarzoch had a line drive shot turned away in the second half, too.

CFC goalkeeper Torge Wiedenroth also played well, turning away free kicks and headers by Municipal.

"This was another great international match for us," CFC manager Bill Elliott said. "With these type of matches, it's expanding the footprint for both clubs. I was pleased with this result. We have seen a lot of good things from our club as of late."

CFC has clinched an NPSL playoff spot and will try to continue its winning streak when it visits Inter Nashville FC on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. match.

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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