Photo credit: Chattanooga Times Free Press
The Chattanooga Red Wolves put on an impressive performance on Saturday to pull out an important victory over FC Tucson in their inaugural home opener in CHI Memorial Stadium. The win did not come easily, however, as the Red Wolves had to battle for the 3 points. The game proved to be an extremely hard-fought physical matchup with a combined 41 fouls between both sides, resulting in 11 yellow cards. The win was the first of its kind in the new home of the Red Wolves, which saw many fans and a thrilling environment in the stadium.
The win is the first of the season for the Red Wolves, after a draw on their opening night on the road against Tormenta FC. The first half was a battle for possession as both teams fought to dictate the momentum of the game. It was very evenly matched and while both teams created solid chances, the match remained scoreless at halftime. Early in the first half, however, the Red Wolves were able to capitalize on a great chance when Greg Hurst settled a ball out of the air and was able to tuck it away off the touch to put the team ahead in the 53rd minute. The goal was the third of the season for Hurst, who scored both goals in the season opener.
The second half saw more opportunities for FC Tucson, who were awarded a penalty kick after goalkeeper Alex Mangel’s fouled an oncoming FC Tucson forward in the 69th minute. Mangles’ stepped up to make a huge save, however, denying FC Tucson the chance to equalize and giving the Red Wolves the momentum to finish out the game earning him the clean sheet. A solid performance from the backline enabled the Red Wolves to keep FC Tucson from putting away any chances, securing the win. This included an incredible effort from the defense that iced off 6 closing minutes of the clock in the corner against a tired FC Tucson attack, taking all momentum out of the game for FC Tucson. The Red Wolves had many players step up to the plate, including Uchenna Uzo, who came in the game early off of an unexpected injury to starting outside back, Jonathan Ricketts.
Coach Obleda was thrilled to pick up his first professional win on Saturday, and start off the team’s home record exactly how he hoped and anticipated. He was very impressed with his team’s incredible ability and maturity to finish the game and close it out. “Today was a tremendous team effort and I couldn’t be happier for them (the team and the fans). We finally got that first win and now let’s keep going” said Obleda in his post-game interview. Saturday also proved to be a monumental day for Greg Hurst’s career, not only because he has improved on a scoring streak, but also because he became the first person to ever score a goal in CHI Memorial Stadium. After the game, he said, “It is a big moment for the club, not just for the players. First game in the new stadium, we wanted to start things off right. We wanted to make our statement. It’s going to be difficult to come here and win.”
Saturday’s performance brings the Red Wolves to 1-0-1 in league play. The Red Wolves are set to kick off on Saturday, August 8th against North Texas SC in an away matchup, make sure to tune in on ESPN+.