A historic night in Finley Stadium brought 7,235 fans out Saturday to support an international exhibition between the Chattanooga Football Club and Guatemalan powerhouse Comunicaciones FC.
Soon after a 2-0 loss to Guatemala's most decorated soccer team with 30 national championships, a look to the crowd who celebrated both sides stuck with many.
"When you look at the bigger picture, it was fantastic to see our local Guatemalan community come together with the fans we typically get on a Saturday night," Chattanooga FC veteran coach Bill Elliott said. "The fans were tremendous tonight. It is a blessing to be a part of something like this."
In CFC's first-ever showing against an international first division club, a team that had been together for only three days showed promising signs.
Chattanooga's Joao Costa was a problem for defenders in the first half as he worked well with Joaquin Cabello and Charlie Clark in the attack.
Even after subbing 10 players at halftime to get a look at newcomers, while veterans such as Juan Hernandez and others sat in CFC's season-opening exhibition, the local National Premier Soccer League club was dangerous.
CFC outshot Comunicaciones 13-12 and earned seven corner kicks, including five in the scoreless first half. And home keeper Phil D'Amico made a diving stop on a powerful free kick in the 40th minute.
"It was great for our guys to take on the top club from Guatemala," Elliott said. "A lot of Comunicaciones' players have been playing together for years and years. On our side, we had a guy in the second half come over to us and ask what the name of his teammate was. We are still learning each other, but at times I thought we played some really great soccer tonight."
With six consecutive national championships in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol to go along with a team captain in Michael Umaña who has played in two World Cups for Costa Rica, the Guatemala City-based club struck in the second half.
In the 68th minute Jorge Ortiz broke the scoreless drought, and Lynner Garcia made it 2-0 in the 84th with a rocket from the left side of the box about 20 yards out that deflected off a defender into the top right of the net.
Comunicaciones FC manager Willy Coito was impressed by not only the local support for the visiting 70th-year club but also the play of its opponent.
"CFC has done a really great job with this soccer club," Coito said. "As long as they continue to build and grow with one another, they are going to do great things. The turnout for the game tonight was amazing. We were grateful to be here."
Chattanooga's Genki Miyachi starred at center back and also nearly headed in a score off a cross from Cabello in the first half. Miyachi is a trialist and has been in America for just two months after playing professionally in Japan.
"This was an amazing opportunity to play in front of all these fans tonight," Miyachi said. "We had great support. I will always play for this team and the city."