Updated with more information at 2:30 p.m. on April 12, 2019.
Leo Folla's first appearance for the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club came in the team's second game of its inaugural season. It was the Red Wolves' first at home, though — and it also resulted in their first victory.
Folla started at center back against Forward Madison (Wisconsin) FC last Saturday at Chattanooga Christian School's David Stanton Field, and he helped key the historic 1-0 win in front of a near-sellout crowd of 3,527.
One key play occurred early in the first half when Folla and Andrew Moullin chased down streaking Madison forward Paulo Junior to deny a powerful shot from the right side several yards into the box. Folla went on to win several key duels late and make several strong clearances.
"We have the foundation down defensively," said Folla, a 24-year-old native New Yorker. "I like to use my body and be physical. It was huge for us to bounce back like we did and post a shutout. The defensive side of the field is the most important, and we cleaned our game up a lot from our first match."
The Red Wolves, who lost their season opener 3-2 at North Texas SC on March 30, will play their second road match Saturday night at 7 against Greenville Triumph SC (1-1) at Legacy Early College. The South Carolina team won its home opener last Saturday, 2-1 against Lansing (Michigan) Ignite FC.
Red Wolves defender Richard Dixon and goalkeepr Alex Mangels made the USL League One team of the week for their performances against Forward Madison FC. Dixon has been a force on both sides of the field, while Mangels' seven saves rank second in the league.
Against Greenville, defensive attention must be paid to forward Jake Keegan, who scored last week and leads the league with 11 shots. Greenville midfielder Kevin Politz scored the team's other goal against Lansing.
"The first week we were tested by a North Texas SC who had a lot of fight and players who were mostly 20 years and younger looking to make their MLS team (FC Dallas)," Folla said. "Last week, Madison had four MLS guys on loan from Minnesota playing to go along with a bunch of experienced veterans. We are getting a good feel for the league now."
Folla and his teammates will have the chance to continue that process as they go for a second straight win.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to play here," Folla said. "This is my first time in the South, and I love Chattanooga and the nature around us.
"My dad got me into the game at a young age, and I looked up to players like Kaká, Ronaldinho and David Luiz. I will do whatever I can to continue and help us not concede goals."