The Chattanooga Football Club continued its perfect start to its second season Saturday night, beating Pumas FC 2-0 at Finley Stadium.
Chris Ochieng scored both goals to lead CFC to its third win in as many games this season, including last Saturday's 2-1 exhibition win over the under-23 team from Fútbol Club Atlas of Guadalajara, Mexico.
The victory moved CFC (2-0) into first place in the National Premier Soccer League Southeast Division standings, ahead of the Birmingham-based Pumas (1-1-1).
"That was a big win because if they win we're down four points to them and still have to go to their place," CFC coach Brian Crossman said. "There's a lot of good players out here, and if you don't play well you're going to lose."
As expected, the crowd Saturday was smaller than last week's home opener, when 6,317 showed up to see CFC take on the Atlas squad. Despite the hot and humid conditions at the start of the game, the announced attendance was 3,061.
Chattanooga FC got on the scoreboard early just as it did versus Atlas. The hosts took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute when forwards Luis Salazar and Ochieng hooked up for a well-executed goal.
Salazar broke free on the right side and crossed the ball to Ochieng near the top of the box, where Ochieng was in position to fire a shot into the top right corner of the goal.
"It was a good combination and I was able to get a touch, lift up my head and shoot it," Ochieng said.
Eleven minutes later, Pumas had the ball deep in CFC territory, and in the span of a few seconds the ball hit the crossbar twice but stayed out of the goal.
Early in the second half, Salazar and Ochieng connected again. This time, Salazar sent a pass downfield and Ochieng ran onto it, beating a defender and sliding a shot past Pumas goalkeeper Louis Quaino and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
"It's hard to believe they've only been playing together three or four weeks," Crossman said.
Ochieng, a Kenyan who played at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky., last season, nearly made it a hat trick on another breakaway, but Quaino made the save. Soon after, Ochieng left the game with cramps, as did several of CFC's starters.
Chattanooga FC will make its longest road trip yet next week when it plays at FC Tulsa. The club's next home game is June 19 against Atlanta FC.
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