The Chattanooga Football Club and Detroit City FC started Saturday night's National Premier Soccer League Members Cup showdown at Finley Stadium slowly, but the visitors began applying pressure in the second half and came away with a 1-0 victory.
Jalen Crisler's header on a crossing corner kick in the 77th minute ended CFC's hopes of finishing in the top two of the six-team Members Cup competition, which is serving as a farewell tour of sorts for the Chattanooga team to the NPSL and amateur competition. CFC will begin competing in the new National Independent Soccer Association next spring, and Detroit will be making that jump as well.
The home team opened Saturday's match by controlling possession but never made any meaningful connections to get good shots on goal.
"Some of our possession was good, but we didn't really hurt them with it," CFC coach Peter Fuller said. "And they're very well organized. They came here for a draw and obviously we're trying to push the pace and see if we can't cause them some problems."
After halftime, Detroit continued to play lockdown defense while also getting more chances on the offensive end. Marcello Borges just missed scoring in the 71st minute when his shot got past CFC goalkeeper Philip D'Amico but bounced off the crossbar. Six minutes later, Crisler got his head on the ball on the crossing corner to score.
"It was just frustrating," D'Amico said. "Detroit has a really good defense, and we didn't get many chances tonight. Then in the second half, they came out and got a lot of chances that could have gone in. Finally they got one across on the corner, and the header went in."
Saturday's showdown was the third meeting this season between the teams, with Detroit ending the series with a 2-1 advantage. CFC won the first meeting 1-0 in an exhibition match April 6 at Finley Stadium, but Detroit earned a 2-1 win in Members Cup play on Aug. 17.
CFC is now 3-4-2 in the Members Cup table while Detroit (5-0-1) is second as the season winds down.
CFC will play two exhibition matches in a home-and-home series against Stumptown Athletic — another NISA team — starting on the road next Saturday in Pineville, North Carolina, followed by a home match Oct. 19. CFC will wrap up Members Cup play and its 2019 season against the Milwaukee Torrent on Oct. 26 at Finley Stadium.
"The best we can finish now in terms of the Cup is third, which certainly isn't what we set out to do," Fuller said. "At the end of the day, now we'll find out who's professional and who's not, and I'm not worried about that. The effort's never a problem with these guys, but sometimes it's the decision-making."