The Chattanooga Red Wolves' postseason aspirations are still attainable.
But only if they can find someone — at least someone other than Greg Hurst — to score some goals.
The Red Wolves lost 2-1 to South Georgia Tormenta FC last Saturday, a match they controlled for much of the duration and one in which they won the shots-on-goal battle 6-5. But not being able to take advantage of chances came back to haunt the Red Wolves in the home defeat, as has been the case for much of the season so far for anyone other than Hurst, who has five goals — tied for the USL League One lead — on 11 shots.
The rest of the team has one goal — scored by Mark Hernandez in a 2-2 draw against North Texas SC on Aug. 8 — on 37 chances, 19 of which have been on target.
The result is a two-match losing streak and a 1-2-2 record heading into Saturday's match against the New England Revolution II at CHI Memorial Stadium. Chattanooga is currently ninth in the 11-team league, and while there is still more than half a season remaining, the trouble with finishing chances — and finishing games — is one that will need to be solved immediately to reach the postseason, which has been reduced to a title game this year.
"We're not scoring goals," first-year Red Wolves coach Jimmy Obleda said. "The reality is that these games would be easier if we just would put them away. You know, we had plenty of time for any opportunities in the first half and plenty of opportunities in the second half. And if we don't score goals, you allow teams to hang around. And that's our problem right now.
"We're just not putting them away."
The Red Wolves are tied for eighth in the league in goals scored. They're tied for seventh in turning shots into goals, converting at a 12.5% rate.
The team has been dealing with the absence of midfielder Amirgy Pineda, who missed the past two games after getting injured at North Texas. That has cost the team one of its top playmakers, although the Red Wolves did bring veteran forward Steven Beattie back Saturday. Beattie played 21 minutes in his first action of the season against Tormenta.
"That kid is a different level," Obleda said of Beattie. "He brings nine goals from last year in his back pocket. Once he gets himself back in the groove, he'll be scoring those goals."
Said Beattie on Saturday: "You just can't teach that ruthlessness, and we're trying our best. It's different guys every week, and someone just needs to step up, because Greg can't carry the weight himself. Hopefully I can contribute; I've been working my socks off every day, trying to get fit and trying to get back out there."
Hurst did note the team is creating chances.
Now it's up to someone, anyone, to finish them.
"I think it would be more of a worry if we were going through games with no chances created," Hurst said. "The talent is there, I just think as forwards we need to get more ruthless. We need to be the ones to take the responsibility to go in and finish chances and finish off the game."