This weekend, Rocket City United will face Chattanooga FC for the third time in just four weeks. The team will travel to Findley Stadium on Saturday for a 7 PM kickoff.
The last two meetings between the sides have ended 2-0 in Chattanooga's favor. In fact, RCU have yet to tally their first victory against the defending champions.
Head coach Gerry Cleary and the rest of the team will be hoping to change that Saturday, but it won't be easy. CFC have been nearly invincible at home, due to a very vocal, and very large, home crowd.
Cleary has been at a loss to explain his side's habit of giving up late goals at home lately.
"It's like there's a forcefield in front of goal, there's no answer," he said after last weekend's loss to Chattanooga. "If it was that easy everyone would do it."
RCU's form has been far better on the road, however, winning all their league road games and suffering only one road loss in Open Cup Qualifying. Unfortunately, that one defeat came at the hands of Chattanooga.
This time, though, CFC will be coming off an exhausting road trip to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the US Open Cup. Chattanooga took a 2 goal lead before giving up two goals in the second half to force overtime. The Riverhounds scored the game winner in the 99th minute.
CFC head coach Brian Crossman admitted before the game that the travel and play against such a quality opponent would be a wear on the team, but did not expect it to lead to any significant letdown on Saturday.
"I like playing the Rocket City guys because they're class guys. They play hard, they play good soccer. I enjoy the competition against them because they're well-coached and they're organized and very talented so we feel very fortunate to get two results against them this year."
Crossman's boys will need to do the job one more time, and while he admits that there might be some difficulty in facing off against the same team for the third time, he expects his side to have the mental strength to prevail.
"It's the old adage that it's hard to beat a really good team three times. I'm not a full believer in that but it is tough. When you know your opposition's quality you know you'd better be ready play so I think we have a little bit more maturity in our team this year in terms of mental toughness so I think will help us get through."