Updated with more information at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2020.
Chattanooga Red Wolves coach Jimmy Obleda stood around while his soccer team stretched in the moments after Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Greenville Triumph. When he later spoke to the media, he did so with a tone that was more frustrated than angry.
Obleda knew, just as his players did, that an opportunity was lost.
The Red Wolves allowed a goal in the 84th minute, spoiling their afternoon at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge and letting slip away a match in which they had been largely dominant against the first-place team in the USL League One standings. Chattanooga controlled possession for nearly 62% of the match and outshot the South Carolina club 10-6, with half of the Red Wolves' attempts happening in the box.
It was Chattanooga's fifth match in the past two weeks and its fourth in an 11-day span, and it brought the club's undefeated streak to an end after five matches. The Red Wolves had risen rapidly in the league with a tie and four wins, including two at home against teams ahead of them in the standings.
They beat the Richmond Kickers on Sept. 12 to move into third place, then topped Union Omaha this past Tuesday to ascend to second, behind only Greenville. The Triumph improved to 8-2-1 with Saturday's win and strengthened their position with three more points, bringing their total to 25 with five regular-season matches remaining for both the Triumph and the Red Wolves (5-3-3), who stalled at 18 points.
Chattanooga returns to competition next Saturday in Wisconsin against Forward Madison FC.
"Yeah, we let three points out of our hands," Obleda said. "It was an opportunity. There's not one team we've played yet that's been better than us, and we had numerous opportunities today."
With its schedule starting later than originally planned due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league has reduced its postseason to only a title match this year, meaning nine teams will be left out.
With a win Saturday, the Red Wolves would have been one point behind the Triumph. Only two points separated the Red Wolves and third-place Union Omaha, which was scheduled to host the last-place New England Revolution II on Saturday night, so even a tie for one point would have better than nothing for Chattanooga.
Regardless, now Obleda's team will try to get back on track and lock in for a final push toward the postseason.
"Today was disappointing because we're the better team," forward Steven Beattie said. "You get punished against good teams, and Greenville is a good team, very well coached, very organized with good players.
"It's definitely a point drop, probably three in the 90-minute run, so it's disappointing, but you can't dwell on it because there's another game next week."