GOSHEN CITY FC: Chicago Nation FC looms as Goshen City prepares for home opener

May 2—GOSHEN — Three weeks ago, Goshen City FC was on the doorstep of kicking off it's encore season with a home date against Chicago Fire FC.

Then the clouds swept through, dumping rain throughout the area and barring GCFC from kicking off it's season in front of its fans.

That opportunity to play at home returns this weekend when winless Goshen City (0-1-1) hosts a familiar foe in Chicago Nation FC (3-0-1). The probability of a mirror result to last year's home-opening 8-0 thumping of Panathinaikos Chicago would be on the low side.

"They are the biggest dogs in the whole conference and this part of the country," assistant coach and founder Henrique Eichenberger said before a practice at Goshen College Wednesday evening. "We are ready for it."

In terms of well-known teams at the UPSL Premier level and especially inside the Midwest Central, Chicago Nation needs no introduction. The squad has won the last four Midwest Central titles, including last year's 3-0 victory over Goshen City in the championship game held in the Windy City.

Having also lost to Chicago Nation by the same score during last year's regular season, Goshen City gets to play in its own backyard on a Saturday night in it's home opener. The players looked eager in practice awaiting the opportunity.

"I'm expecting a very, very tough matchup," Goshen City FC head coach Tyler Born said. "I think our mindset has got to be to put those two games behind us. I think they're motivated enough that the team that beat us in the final is coming to our place this time and experiencing what it's like to play here in front of our fans."

Born's team comes in winless, playing it's first two games on the road. In the season-opener at Allegiant Hammond, GCFC held a 4-1 lead late before Hammond stormed back to find the equalizer and settle for a 4-4 tie within the Midwest Central South division.

In the following matchup this past weekend, Goshen City evened the scored at 1-1 against current undefeated South division frontrunner Black Cat FC. In the 93rd minute, Black Cat netted a free kick just outside the penalty box. City couldn't even the score with the minute of extra time that remained, sending the team to 0-1-1.

"They scored 10 minutes in, we dominated the rest of the game, kept possession more than them, played better than them in my opinion and got a great free kick goal from Tebello [Ntene] and that gave us a bit of a boost but we couldn't put away any of our remaining chances and then fouled someone on a 50/50 ball," Born said about the team's lone loss.

Born talks well of the new style he's implemented this season. It relies on speed and endurance and tries to take advantage of attacking quickly and with numbers. With only a two-game sample size, it's too early to see whether it's worked or not, but looking at those two games, Goshen City's opponent has found the goal towards the end of the game.

"It's all about getting the rhythm of playing games each weekend again," Eichenberger said. "We're ready physically, it's just about getting in habit of playing games and performing for 90 minutes and not 80."

"It's two games in a row that we've considered late in the game," Eichenberger added about the late goals given up. "It seems like we need to pay more attention on the last couple of minutes when the legs aren't there anymore but you got to be extra focused because of that."

Regardless, the new way of playing should be "exciting" according to Born.

"We're looking to get a lot of numbers forward, play quick, switch the play, expose teams in the spaces that they leave us and once we get into those spaces, breaking free and attacking with speed," the returning head coach said. "We've got a good team all around that can play in this system. It's a very exciting way to play but it takes a lot of work, a lot of focus, a lot of intensity. It's a quicker pace, move the ball fast and not taking our foot off the gas pedal."

Goshen's schedule in it's first four games involves teams towards the top of their respective division. Black Cat is perched at the top of the South division with GCFC's next home opponent in Berber City FC. Both have recorded four wins in four games.

Chicago Nation leads the North division at 3-0-1. That includes routs of 7-0 and 8-0. Chicago Nation has outscored its four opponents 20-3, but none of those opponents have recorded more than one win this season. Mounir Alami is the leading scorer for Saturday's visitors, already with eight on the year.

Tebello Ntene leads Goshen's scoring with a pair to begin the 2024 season. Other scorers include Joao Oliveira, Joshua Cruz and Samuel Marchi.

Goshen City FC is faced with a gauntlet in its season schedule, but a game at home against the pack leader is as good an opportunity as any to plant their flag. They'll get that chance Saturday at Goshen College with the game scheduled for 7 p.m.

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at