There's a decent chance that during the Chattanooga Football Club's road game tonight against the Knoxville Force, a Frenchman will pass the ball to an Englishman who will send it on to a Kenyan for a CFC goal. Or maybe a Brazilian gets the assist and a Frenchman scores.
Chattanooga FC has a very international team playing the world's most popular sport.
"That's the beauty of the game," said forward Chris Ochieng, who's from Nairobi, Kenya. "The ball itself is just a sign of friendship. You look around and there's an American next to me, a Brazilian, a South African -- there are so many countries represented."
Ochieng, who came to the United States to play at Milligan College, near Johnson City, is one of three players on the roster from Nairobi. Typically this season four of CFC's starters are from England, two are Frenchmen and the rest is a mix of Americans, Kenyans and maybe a player from Brazil, Jose Ferraz.
"I don't know that this is the most international players we've ever had," general manager Sean McDaniel said. "We just happen to have some new nationalities represented, which is kind of neat for us.
"These are guys that have formed relationships that never would have happened had it not been for us bringing them to Chattanooga."
CFC coach Bill Elliott said the goal in assembling this year's team wasn't to add more international players, but to build depth. Because some of the local players are older and have jobs, which means they can't always travel, CFC wanted players who would be available all summer.
"Not that the local players aren't good enough -- they are -- but if they're not traveling then we need some guys that we can count on," Elliott said. "That's kind of how it evolved."
Including players who dress out and the reserves, CFC has players from England, Kenya, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, France, South Africa and the U.S. Of course some of the internationals have made this area their home. Defender Andy Stewart is from England, played at Milligan and is in his fourth season with CFC. He's now a physical education teacher in Johnson City.
"It's just a plus getting people from all over the place and making relationships," said Ochieng, who returned to CFC for his third season with the team after playing in the Premier Development League last summer. "Despite being from different places, we have something in common. We all want to play well and be successful."
With a record of 2-0-1 in National Premier Soccer League Southeast division play, CFC leads the division with six points. The Force (1-1-1) are tied for second with four points. Tonight's game is the first of three in a row on the road for CFC.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...