Words: David Barr
Little Rock Rangers of the NPSL and Chattanooga Football Club of the National Independent Soccer Association have agreed to play a home and home series which will pit the Rangers versus a professional soccer team in the upcoming 2020 season.
The two clubs are very close in relationship and many things including the Rangers supporters club the Red Watch have been patterned after the former NPSL club in Tennessee.
“Personally, this is so exciting to me,” Jonathan Wardlaw, President and General Manager of Rangers said of the announcement. “Chattanooga FC actually plays a big part in our existence. Back in 2015 when I was creating the Rangers, the NPSL invited me to the now famous CFC versus Cosmos championship game in Chattanooga. I was intrigued because our two cities are very similar in my eye. There were over 18,000 fans at that game, and I knew that creating an atmosphere like that in Little Rock would be a very tall feat. However, I thought if they could do it, why couldn’t we someday? When CFC was in the NPSL, I‘d always mention at the owner’s meetings that I’d love to play them, but being 7 hours apart we could never put it together and make it work. We connected recently and made a commitment to make it work this year.”
Chattanooga won the Southeast Conference title in NPSL on eight occasions and were national runners-up four times before moving to professional soccer and the National Independent Soccer Association for the Spring 2020 season.
Little Rock comes off of a second place finish in the Heartland Conference in 2019 and an appearance in the U.S. Open Cup.
“CFC has been trying to play Little Rock Rangers for a few years now, and we finally secured a home and home with them which is very exciting” said Jeremy Alumbaugh, Managing Director, Chattanooga FC. “We’ve heard great things about the atmosphere at War Memorial Stadium and can’t wait to experience it for ourselves. Adding these matches to our 2020 schedule gives everyone another reason to be anxious for the 2020 season to begin.”
The first leg of the home and home will take place on Wednesday, June 10 at War Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 7pm (CST), The return match in Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium takes place a month later on Wednesday, July 22 at 6:30pm (CST).
“Now that CFC is a professional squad this makes the series even more exciting,” Wardlaw said. “The fact that they are willing to come to us is such an honor, and I’m just so appreciative of them giving our players and fans a home game. I hope we can create a rowdy atmosphere and give them a match to remember.”
The remainder of the Little Rock Rangers NPSL Heartland Conference 2020 slate will be released at a later date.