The Chattanooga Red Wolves fell to Tucson FC 2-1, Saturday night at CHI Memorial Stadium, splitting this week’s games with a win and a loss.
The late game heroics came short as the rally came minutes too late for the Red Wolves.
Forward Rey Ortiz sparked life into multiple attacks, but the crowding Tucson defense proved too tough to penetrate.
Late game sub Moe Espinoza filled the void of Ortiz’s departure. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Espinoza connected with forward Juan Galindrez, who would send a header to the opposing side of the net in the 90th minute.
The added four minutes of extra time would provide the Red Wolves with two more attacks. Espinoza’s first chance came seconds after Galindrez’s goal but was spoiled by the back line of Tucson.
Andrés Hernández, another late substitution by Chattanooga, followed Espinoza’s opportunity on the opposite side of the field. His cross got through but was pounced on by Tucson FC goalkeeper Carlos Merancio.
With seconds remaining of added time, the Red Wolves had one last opportunity. A gassed Rafael Mentzingen received a pass in Tucson territory. With no openings near him, Mentzingenspotted Espinoza on the opposite side of the field, who was intruding into the penalty area. Mentzingen’s pass landed on top of the colliding, wrestling bodies of a Tucson defense and Espinoza
As the two tussled, the defender appeared to win the battle, but Espinoza suddenly stole the ball. As Espinoza was setting up a potential game-tying shot or open cross, the game was called. The stadium grew quiet, and players dropped to their knees in disbelief. Then, a roar of fans heckled, and a charging coach took the field, that is Red Wolves’ head coach Jimmy Obleda.
A rightfully irritated coach, though, had no power of overturning any call, blown whistle, or decision. The two-game win streak
Chattanooga possessed fell, and it is back to square one at chipping away for the top of the USL League One standings as the Red Wolves drop to third overall, one point behind the second-place Richmond Kickers and three points behind the Greenville Triumph SC.
FC Tucson’s win ends a three-game winless streak (two losses, one draw). Tucson’s Tyler Allen connected with Louis Perez in the 45th minute for the night's first goal and closed out the first half. Later, Tucson striker Fernando Garcia netted the second goal of the night, extending their lead to two, as a difficult cross-body shot maneuvered past the Red Wolves goalkeeper and into the left corner of the net. The goal came in the 77th minute and put Chattanooga on the ropes and would end up being the winning goal.
Chattanooga appeared to be a step slower from Wednesday night’s beatdown on the Charlotte Independence, a 7-1 win. The short rest between the games coupled with a week-long rest for Tucson FC took a toll on the Red Wolves.
The Red Wolves receive a handful of days to rest until their road trip to Fresno, California to take on the Central Valley Fuego FC on June 11. The Red Wolves return to Chattanooga for yet another doubleheader week against the same opponents, Charlotte Independence on June 22, and FC Tucson on June 25—a chance to avenge tonight’s loss.
CHATTANOOGA —01 - 1
TUCSON. 11 - 2
Goals: Chattanooga (1): Juan Galindrez 1; Tucson (2): Fernando Garcia and Louis Perez