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James hat-trick propels Chattanooga FC to statement victory over Miami

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (April 13, 2024) — A spectacular first-half hat-trick from forward Jalen James propelled Chattanooga FC to a 6-2 victory over Inter Miami CF II in front of nearly 4,000 fans at Finley Stadium. The result is a club record for most goals scored in a single match in its professional era.

James opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a composed finish in the bottom corner before adding two late in the half. Captain Alex McGrath scored in each half for a brace and to take his season tally to three and substitute Ethan Koren scored his first professional goal in stoppage time in a highly-entertaining encounter that handed Miami its first defeat of the season.

Sporting Director and Head Coach Rod Underwood made just one change to the starting line-up from the last match at New York City FC, bringing in James in for Jesus Ibarra.

James' first goal, which came moments after Duvan Viafara made a crucial, last-ditch tackle to prevent a dangerous Miami counter-attack, was from a tight angle and showcased the forward's finishing prowess.

Miami equalized in the 12th minute with Alejandro Flores finishing off a counter-attack, but after both sides exchanged chances as the half worn, Chattanooga FC opened the floodgates.

James turned provider in the 35th minute when he found just enough space to flick in a short cross for McGrath to head CFC back in the lead. Five minutes later, James had his second of the evening when he ventured into the penalty area before Taylor Gray found him with a pass and James quickly opened up his body and curled in a shot past the helpless Owen Finnerty.

His hat-trick was complete before referee Elvis Osmanovic blew for half-time. James made a darting run into the penalty area to get on the end of Milo Garvanian's whipped in cross and he headed in from close range.

Miami got back to within a couple of goals of CFC in the 59th minute when Ryan Carmichael scored his second of the season. Jonathan Burke made aa crucial save in the 70th minute to help CFC maintain a two-goal cushion, and McGrath and Koren ultimately put the result beyond doubt. McGrath got on the end of Mehdi Ouamri's cross in the 71st minute—Ouamri had two assists on the night—and Koren combined with fellow substitute Carlos Rivas to break away and poke past Finnerty in stoppage time.

Chattanooga FC will next travel to fellow Southeast Division side Huntsville City FC on Saturday, April 20 for an 8:00 p.m. ET kick-off.


Sporting Director and Head Coach Rod Underwood gave his post-match reactions:

On Jalen James' performance:

"We're happy for Jalen and the team," said Underwood. "It's good for his confidence. Any striker that gets a hat-trick in the first half will really be a big boost."

On the team's run of scoring first in every league game:

"We want to be try and be the aggressor and score and deny goals. We always like to come out and be aggressive."

On the team's progression in these early stages of the season:

"We have a lot of work to do. It's really hard to take anything away from the players. We started the second half slow and they got a goal, we were under it for long stretches and we still figured out how to score two goals, so that's a testament to the guys and their fortitude."

On the challenge Miami presented:

"In this league the games never get comfortable because teams are relentless. They don't stop. It doesn't matter what the scoreline is; they keep coming so you never feel comfortable."

On preparation for next weekend's match in Huntsville:

"We will just keep building on everything we want to do. We know they're a good team. They will fight and battle and make it difficult for us."


  • The result was a club record for most goals scored in a single match in its professional era—it was the most goals CFC scored in a single match since a 9-0 win over AFC Mobile on April 27, 2019
  • Chattanooga FC continued its run of scoring the first goal in each of its first four matches in MLS NEXT Pro
  • James' hat-trick was the 28th overall to be scored in MLS NEXT Pro history and just the fifth to be completed in the first half
  • Ethan Koren scored his first professional goal
  • James and McGrath now lead the team in league goals (three each)
  • Taylor Gray leads the team with three assists on the season

Box Score:  

Chattanooga FC (2W-0L-2D, 1SOW, 9 pts.)  - Inter Miami CF II (3W-1L-1D, 0SOW, 10 pts.)

Finley Stadium | Chattanooga, Tenn.

Final Score:     

CFC: 6

MIA: 2 

Scoring Summary:    

CFC: Jalen James (A: Mehdi Ouamri) 6’

MIA: Alejandro Flores (A: Nykolas Sessock) 12'

CFC: Alex McGrath (A: Jalen James) 35’

CFC: Jalen James (A: Taylor Gray) 40'

CFC: Jalen James (A: Milo Garvanian) 45'+3

MIA: Ryan Carmichael (A: Nykolas Sessock) 59'

CFC: Alex McGrath (A: Mehdi Ouamri)

CFC: Ethan Koren (A: Carlos Rivas)


MIA: Jose Casas de Abadal (Caution) 34'

CFC: Milo Garvanian (Caution) 53'

CFC: Anatolie Prepelita (Caution) 69’

Stats (CFC/MIA):

Possession: 50 / 50
xG (Expected Goals): 3.21 / 2.28
Shots: 14 / 16
Shots on Goal: 10 / 6
Shots from inside penalty area: 11 / 10

Shots from outside penalty area: 3 / 6
Passes: 480 / 431
Passing accuracy: 81.7% / 81.7%
Fouls: 16 / 7
Clearances: 15 / 8
Offsides: 3 / 2
Goalkeeper saves: 4 / 4


CFC: Jon Burke, Jesse Williams (Joseph Perez 66'), Duvan Viafara, Anatolie Prepelita, Milo Garvanian, Luis Garcia Sosa (Callum Watson 66’), Andres Jimenez Aranzazu, Alex McGrath, Taylor Gray (Ethan Koren 82'), Mehdi Ouamri (Carlos Rivas 82’), Jalen James (Jesus Ibarra 74')

Substitutes not used: Jean Antoine, Farid Sar-Sar, Damian Rodriguez, Jude Arthur

Head Coach: Rod Underwood

MIA: Owen Finnerty, Nykolas Sessock, Tyler Hall (Santiago Garcia 78'), Tye Barton, Samuel Basabe (Cesar Abadia-Reda 28'), Alejandro Flores (Cristian Ortiz 79'), Ricardo Montenegro, Jose Casas de Abadal, Bryan Destin, Santiago Morales, Ryan Carmichael

Substitutes not used: Israel Boatwright, Brett Kaminski, Jack Pymm, Derrek Martinez, Idoh Zeltzer-Zubida

Head Coach: Federico Higuain

GALLERY: Chattanooga FC 6-2 Inter Miami CF II