Chattanooga will at all times maintain a particular place in Atlanta United fan’s hearts. The Scenic Metropolis performed host to the 5 Stripe’s first ever match again in 2017, and who would’ve thought the scrimmage would set off a firestorm of success for Atlanta in its first three seasons.
How becoming it’s they return.
Chattanooga FC will as soon as once more play hosts at Finley Stadium this Saturday at 3:00 P.M. as Atlanta United approaches their seventh season with a newfound positivity, together with a real sense of uncertainty. It’s solely the third assembly within the membership’s histories along with the aforementioned preliminary pleasant and final yr’s U.S. Open Cup match that the 5 Stripes received 6-0.
Our Scarves and Spikes podcast had a busy Wednesday night as they chatted with the AJC’s Doug Roberson in regards to the number of Atlanta preseason information and rumors presently making rounds. Previous to that, nonetheless, they sat down with Chattanooga’s head coach Rod Underwood to speak in regards to the matchup, how he’s been evolving the workforce in his brief time as gaffer, and what the matchup means to the 2 golf equipment.
“For us it’s a singular scenario, we’re beginning preseason fairly early,” Coach Underwood stated in regards to the date of the matchup. “Earlier than we agreed to have the sport, our preseason wasn’t going to begin till February sixth.”
This highlights the mutual respect the golf equipment share as two dynamic groups of their respective divisions of American soccer; Chattanooga FC remains to be actively signing a wide range of gamers as they basically report two weeks forward of schedule to reap the benefits of a possibility to check their mettle towards an MLS squad. Underwood beforehand led the workforce to second in NISA final season (14-3-7), which certified them for an computerized semi-final playoff berth. They narrowly misplaced that match 1-0 to eventual champions, Michigan Stars FC.
Each Atlanta United and Chattanooga FC are anticipated to discipline a mix of first workforce gamers, backups, trialists, and doubtlessly even academy gamers.
“You’ll see a really vital variety of trialists…we’re a protracted methods away from getting our workforce performed,” stated Underwood. “This stage is completely different, there are only a few multi-year contracts.”
That’s a far cry from Atlanta United’s present scenario, which has seen a major quantity of turnover since 2022’s robust season. Presently, Jackson Conway sits because the lone first-team striker on the roster who’s really collaborating on the coaching floor, so Saturday may very well be an enormous alternative for him to make a mark in entrance of the teaching workers and followers as rumors loom about Greek striker Georgios Giakoumakis becoming a member of the 5 Stripes “imminently” from Celtic. The truth is, Saturday’s pleasant has the potential to show a handful of both new or lesser identified faces to the followers of each golf equipment.
From an Atlanta perspective, it’s affordable to suppose lots of the first workforce guys like Luiz Araújo, Thiago Almada, Brooks Lennon, Juanjo Purata, Andrew Gutman, and others will see the pitch for a handful of minutes earlier than stepping down in favor of a number of the typical Atlanta United 2’s gamers like Erik Centeno, Nick Firmino, Ajani Fortune, Justin Garces, and Noah Cobb. This’ll even be a first-rate alternative for newcomer goalkeepers Quentin Westberg and Clement Diop to indicate out in entrance of the 17’s.
However…World Cup winner Thiago Almada doubtlessly making his post-tournament debut in Chattanooga, Tennessee? What an exquisite and wild sport all of us love.
Chattanooga, for all the eye they’re nonetheless placing in to solidifying their very own roster for 2023, may have a handful of workhorses both returning or being not too long ago added.
“We signed goalkeeper of the yr…Jean Antoine,” Underwood listed, “… and the golden boot winner is returning, Markus Naglestad.” Chattanooga’s coach additionally talked about some USL 1 gamers, Joseph Perez and John Partida, and his face lit up as he spoke of midfielder/winger Alex McGrath.
“Alex McGrath has been with me…I introduced him over from my different membership Stumptown. He’s simply been a star, he’s been a stud from day one.”
McGrath is a closely concerned midfielder who ended the 2022 season with 6 objectives and 5 assists, although one many of us might bear in mind is his first minute purpose within the 2022 U.S. Open Cup towards Memphis 901 which propelled them by means of the spherical to play Atlanta United.
From an Atlanta United fan perspective, it’s a possibility to journey effectively and benefit from the sport with a fellow rowdy group of supporters within the Chattahooligans.
“Soccer might be probably the most highly effective sport on the planet to unify folks,” talked about Underwood. “You get an opportunity to speak to folks and expertise folks you wouldn’t in your on a regular basis stroll of life in the event you weren’t concerned within the sport.” For his or her half, Finley Stadium and Chattanooga are an awesome alternative to bask in a hidden gem of southern tradition in the event you plan on making the journey.
From a tactical perspective, control the general workforce motion, too, as a lot of the preseason focus has been on shoring up the protection. Count on the 5 Stripes to proceed their type of enjoying from the again, however search for loads of off-ball motion to open passing lanes up the pitch. And if the workforce experiences turnovers, make a remark of how rapidly your complete squad retreats again to defend and strain the ball again to their very own toes. In the meantime, Chattanooga will even be seeking to implement their possession-based type which Coach Underwood said would not change irrespective of the opponent.
“It’s simply who I’m as an individual. I like engaging, attacking soccer. I like to preserve the ball. I like to press the ball, we love to only dominate possession,” stated Underwood about enjoying his type towards Atlanta United within the Open Cup final yr. “You solely get higher by doing what you do, as a result of what I do know what we’re not going to do is, within the season, is we’re not going to sit down again, we’re not going to let the opposite workforce have the ball, we’re not going to counter, so why do one thing we’re by no means going to do?”
For the tactical of us watching and making the journey north on I-75, the mindset and sport plan behind Gonzalo Pineda and Rod Underwood will probably be an attention-grabbing nuance, particularly contemplating the relative lack of preseason chemistry the respective groups have had time to develop. Regardless, Saturday will probably be an pleasant day and nice solution to kick off the gorgeous sport in 2023 for each golf equipment.
On the time of this writing, the streaming choice hasn’t been launched but, however the match will probably be aired on the radio on 92.9 The Recreation. Tommy, Sydney, and I (Tyler) will probably be again on the Twitter Areas post-match present to speak simply after the ultimate whistle, and Scarves and Spikes will return Wednesday at 7 Jap to catch you up on the most recent information and previews for the remainder of the preseason.
For those who’re touring to Chattanooga, come say howdy to me! And remember to observe Scarves and Spikes on the hyperlinks under: