OPINION: Now is the Winter of our Discontent

Contributed by El Conductor.  Photo from Kate Robertson.

Like most Shakespearian quotes, the meaning is in the context. But context is a funny thing. Few events are so objectively obvious that everyone agrees on their context. Similarly, the context of this 2017 Chattanooga FC season is open to extremely different interpretations, likely revealing if you’re an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist.

The Optimist’s Context

If you’re still wondering about CFC’s chances of hosting playoff games, then you are an optimist. You’ll likely see the two initial draws and remind yourself that CFC added two games to the conference schedule, giving us two more games to lessen the impact of losses and ties. You’ll probably also take comfort that should CFC win out, a 10-2-0 record would produce a very high 2.66 Points Per Game average (the method the NPSL uses to seed teams in the postseason), which is higher than any other PPG we’ve ever achieved, excepting last year’s incredible 2.8 PPG. 

Combine all this math with the undeniable talent level on this year’s team, and it’s easy to frame a context that the tough times are almost over, and the rest of this season’s going to be glorious.

The Pessimist’s Context

But you might not see things that way. Instead, you might be focusing on a slump that extends back to last season’s NPSL Semifinal loss, making it the longest in CFC’s history. During this five-game period, Chattanooga has scored an embarrassing 2 goals. Now if you’re feeling generous, you’ll acknowledge that one of those matches came against an MLS team, but you’d still likely point out that against our last four amateur opponents CFC has been outscored 5 goals to 2. 

Add to this, the realization that even though this team appears to be loaded with talent, we’ve been nearly unable to find the net without all-time leading scorer Luke Winter. Within that context it’s probably easy to view these early season results as a sign there’s still more that needs to be weathered.

The Realist’s Context

But again, context is tough to firmly establish. While it’s true our recent lack of scoring has been disappointing, there are certainly reasons for it. With so many road games to open the season, so many key changes to the lineup, it’s understandable the squad would need a few games to find itself. This year’s slow start could actually be seen as a testament to how amazingly quick past teams developed, or at least how weak the early opponents were in those years.

If this context appeals to you, you might also take comfort in how stout our defense looked against Memphis, and at the constant pressure our offense produced. You’ll probably also mention to anyone who’ll listen that if not for a goalie’s correct guess on a penalty kick, or a rebounding ball’s unlucky bounce, Wednesday’s draw would have been a CFC victory. 

How you see the context of this early season says a lot. Do you admit the team’s numerous failures? Do you examine the situations that produced them? Do you consider postseason glory still attainable? Do you acknowledge how much more difficult reaching it will be? The context you cling to will determine how you accept and respond to the disappointment of unrealized dreams, but also how you’ll build new ones. 

The season is still young and we’ve got a long road ahead. Let’s do it.