A rainy day in Rochester had turned into a cool, clear night, perfect for some soccer. Chattanooga FC and Flower City Union previously met last month, with Chattanooga emerging the 1-0 victors at home. Since then, they’ve gone on to establish themselves at the top of the league, whilst FCU has struggled due to a lack of goals. There were a few changes to both squads since their last meeting. For FCU, Matt Bolduc was ineligible to play due to a red card last match, while starting goalkeeper Michael Mejia dislocated his finger in practice and was replaced for the first time by Trevor Wilson. On the Chattanooga side, Taylor Gray is always a great player and is apparently out long-term due to injury.
After a series of disappointing results, FCU came out the strongest that they have so far this season. While play was back and forth for much of the start of it, what was immediately noticeable is the speed on Alioune Diakhate. He’s always been a good player, but he’s really showing off that he can be all over the pitch. In the first few minutes he had what was one of his best chances yet this season, but after some fancy footwork, and turning around the defender, he couldn’t put a solid foot on the ball towards goal. The 16th minute saw some very questionable refereeing. Diakhate took the ball down the right side, and crossed it across the box to Luke Ferreira. He was taken down in the box, but the referee waved it away, despite protests from all the players and fans.
The 28th minute saw the first real test of back-up goalkeeper Wilson. The Chattanooga attacker had a breakaway, and Wilson saved not only the first powerful attack, but the rebound, sending it behind the goal and out of play. The 39th minute was another moment where players took issue with the ref. The Chattanooga corner kick was sent in and headed by 3 different people, the third sending it into the goal. The line judge called it either offsides or a foul (it was impossible to tell which from my vantage point), and the ref immediately blew his whistle and called it off, sending the Chatanooga players into a rage. Chattanooga however finally broke the deadlock in the 44th minute with a hell of a rocket by Markus Naglestad from about 25 yards out, into the top corner. While FCU entered the half down 1-0, it was probably their strongest half of the season thus far.
The second half was a mostly even affair, maybe Chattanooga was the slightly better team, as they had a few more chances. However, it was also a much more physical affair, as there were a lot of fouls and players hitting the ground more than they had in the first half. The second half also saw the yellow card coming out for the physical play we were seeing.
This match saw FCU players starting to emerge into what they would become. Ferreira has always been around the play, but he was noticeably strong along the right wing. Halftime substitution Oscar Sanchez was also making some good plays plays and frustrating players along the front line. Diakhate didn’t get as many chances as he should have, but ran his ass off all over the pitch trying his best to create those chances. The dying minutes of regular time saw FCU’s best opportunities of the game. There were multiple chances for free kicks and corner kicks, culminating in a shot that went just over the bar as regular time ended. A huge stoppage time of either 7 minutes (as stated by the announcer) or 9 minutes (as read on the board) had a couple more chances for FCU sent right over the bar. As the last play of the match, a ball was floated in to Stephan Elias on the 6 yard line, but his header went directly to the keeper.
Another 1-0 loss was a disappointment, however it was definitely Flower City Union’s strongest performance of the season. The goal was such a shot that it was impossible that any defender or the keeper even had a chance. And while they didn’t score, or put many shots on target, it did see the most offense that they’ve had all year. They game was played more in Chattanooga’s half than FCU’s, and there was multiple shots, something we haven’t really seen this year. It’s still a lack of scoring that continues to frustrate Flower City Union, but their play is getting better, and hopefully the goals will come next week, when they are playing a team a little lower down the league.
Flower City Union returns to play next Saturday, May 27th, with their first “home” game as Salt City Union, at 6pm in Auburn.
60 degrees, cool, clear