Both Chattanooga Football Club soccer teams enter the weekend with big matches that will determine seeding heading into next week's league playoffs.
The Chattanooga FC men (7-2-2, 6-1-2) are in first place as they head into tonight's 7:30 regular-season home finale against Rocket City United (2-5-2). CFC is tied with the Atlanta Silverback Reserves at the top of the National Premier Soccer League Southeast Division standings but hold a goal-differential advantage of seven over the Reserves, so should the teams finish with identical records, the Chattanooga side would claim the top seed.
CFC coach Bill Elliott said Thursday that, in trying to get some players some rest before the playoffs, he most likely will field a different lineup tonight.
"There are some guys that we want to see more of in game action, and they'll get their chance tonight," Elliott said. "The majority of the starters will be in their place, but there will be a few changes -- definitely in the substitution pattern."
Luke Winter's leg injury against Nashville FC paved the way for Sias Reyneke to earn some time, and he's responded with three goals in the past two matches. Elliott doesn't expect anybody to have that sort of breakthrough performance, though, although he does hope that a couple "could put themselves in position to come off the bench."
The CFC women (5-3-1) finally get back on the field Saturday when they travel to Nashville to take on the FC Wolves, who won 2-0 in the teams' May 24 meeting in Chattanooga. Since that defeat, CFC is 5-1-1, and the loss was 1-0 to Alabama FC on June 6. The stretch has put CFC in solid shape for at least the No. 2 seed going into the Women's Premier Soccer League Southeast playoffs in Birmingham next week, but coach Patrick Winecoff's team could put itself in line for the top seed with a win in Nashville.
The club hasn't played since June 28 due to Mississippi Fuego FC folding, but Winecoff said the time off has been beneficial.
"It's been an opportunity to let some players heal up," he said. "We've got a lot of players that play all 90 minutes, so we've needed a break. The time off has been really hard, but this group is highly motivated. We've had some bumps in the road, but at the end of the day it's like riding a bike."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.