Monday, May 19 2014, 03:16 PM EDT
Chattanooga vs Atlanta, May 28 in US Open Cup at Finley Stadium
After a stunning 3-1 victory over the professional Wilmington Hammerheads – the first such defeat of a USL Pro team by a lower-division NPSL team in 16 attempts in US Open Cup history – Chattanooga FC has been drawn to compete against the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks in The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the oldest ongoing soccer competition in the United States, at 7:30 on May 28th on Chattanooga's home turf in Finley Stadium.
"We billed our last game as a David and Goliath matchup, and we went out and earned the win," said General Manager Sean McDaniel. "But this is David vs. Goliath on a completely different scale."
"The Silverbacks play at the second tier of professional American Soccer, just below the MLS," said Board member Tim Kelly. "This will be the highest level game Chattanooga FC has ever played, and the fact that it's against Atlanta just elevates the drama. This game is about civic pride as much as about soccer. There is no love lost between Chattanooga and Atlanta and we want to fill up Finley to remind Atlanta that we are the best fans in the best city in the Southeast."
Chattanooga FC has been in the US Open Cup Tournament twice before —once in 2011 and again last year – and while the team performed very competitively, they lost both games in either overtime or penalty kicks. The team is no stranger to playing a professional club, in 2011 it faced the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, then a team in the lower second division of the USL. This year marks the first time any NPSL team has defeated a USL Pro team, when Chattanooga FC defeated Wilmington on May 14th.
The tournament champion wins $250,000 and the runner-up wins $60,000. While it is unlikely for a lower division team like Chattanooga FC to go that far, there still is an opportunity to win $15,000 by advancing farther than any other amateur team, a goal that will likely be met should CFC prevail over the Silverbacks.
Not only is the Open Cup tournament a great chance for Chattanooga FC's young players to test their skills against professional competitors, it is also a great opportunity to get noticed by professional clubs. A good performance could mean a chance to go pro.
"I thought we were the better side against Wilmington, and we have some special chemistry on the team this year, so who knows how far we can go? We are honored by the opportunity to play in such a prestigious tournament, especially at home in front of our legendary fans," said Head Coach Bill Elliott. "We look forward to playing our very best and advancing in the US Open Cup.”
Should Chattanooga FC prevail over Atlanta, they would face MLS team Real Salt Lake, in Chattanooga's Finley Stadium, which would mark yet another historic moment for the club.
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