Chattanooga Red Wolves' playoff hopes come down to final day

Staff file photo by C.B. Schmelter / Chattanooga Red Wolves defender Tony Walls has taken on the captain designation after Steven Beattie has had to miss the final stretch of the regular season with an injury. The Red Wolves still have a shot at the inaugural USL League One playoffs with a home win in the regular-season finale.

Championship dreams for the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club will come down to the final hours of the USL League One regular season Saturday.

The Red Wolves need to win again at home and Forward Madison FC to lose or draw against Lansing Ignite FC to claim the fourth and final playoff spot.

"It would be perfect to celebrate a playoff-clinching win here," Chattanooga right back and captain Tony Walls said. "We have only lost once here all season. We take care of business here, and I don't think it will be any different this weekend. By any means, we are here to win three (standings) points."

Players and coaches will keep a close eye on the 3 p.m. match in Lansing, Michigan, as there either will or won't be a pathway into the playoffs by first kick with Toronto FC II at 7 p.m. Saturday at David Stanton Field.

The Red Wolves (10-8-9) have scored seven goals in their past three games, and forward Vangjel Zguro was named the league's player of the week for picking up his seventh assist of the season and having six key passes in a 2-1 victory over Richmond last Saturday.

"We have tried to get it in the attacking players' heads that if a chance does come the standard is hit the target," said Collin Falvey, who appeared in three matches this year and has helped coach the team as well. "At least make the goalkeeper work. Then from there we can get a follow-up, a rebound, and the play is still alive."

With a pair of 2-2 draws against Toronto FC II (9-10-8) - led by Jordan Perruzza, who has scored 14 goals - the Red Wolves hope to accomplish history in a must-win scenario.

"These are the weekends you like," acting head coach Dave Barrueta said. "Everything is on the line. This is why you play. Everyone is in a positive mood, and we are ready to get after it."

photo Staff file photo by C.B. Schmelter / Chattanooga FC's Joao Costa has scored twice the amount of goals as anyone else in NPSL Members Cup play with six goals through eight matches.

CFC hosts Detroit

From scoring 56 goals in 43 games for Truett McConnell University, Joao Costa has been heating up offensively with the Chattanooga Football Club.

Back to full health, the speedster leads the NPSL Members Cup with six goals in eight games. Costa will try to stay on that roll as Chattanooga FC (3-3-2) hosts Detroit City FC (4-0-1) Saturday at 6 p.m. at Finley Stadium.

"Joao is back to being fully fit, and we are playing a system that suits him a little more where he is a wide-left player in a three-man front," CFC coach Peter Fuller said. "There's a lot of players who can run fast, but not a lot who can go at top speed with full control. Joao has great feet in terms of dribbling and breaking defenders down off the dribble."

Juan Sanchez also has stood out for the club of late as a force on defense with Jordan Dunstan, Fuller said.

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