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Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / The Chattanooga Red Wolves' Juan Galindrez chips the ball over North Carolina FC's Nicholas Holliday (24) for a goal during a USL League One match on June 20 at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge.

After flirting with reaching the USL League One playoffs in their first two seasons of existence, the Chattanooga Red Wolves got it done in year three.

Now it's all about placement.

Forward Madison FC's loss on Tuesday helped the Red Wolves, currently second in the 12-team soccer league's standings, secure one of the six playoff berths. The Red Wolves (11-4-10) have 43 points in the standings with three regular-season matches remaining and are one point behind Union Omaha (12-4-8), which has four matches left and is the only other USL League One team that has locked up a playoff spot.

The Greenville Triumph (10-7-8) — the reigning league champions — are third with 38 points, followed by the New England Revolution II (11-10-4) and the Richmond Kickers (10-8-7) with 37 each, then FC Tucson (9-10-6) and North Texas SC (8-8-9) with 33 each. Only North Carolina FC (6-15-4), with just 22 points, has been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

If the Red Wolves are able to hold on to one of the top two spots, they will have a bye into the league semifinals and will host a playoff match at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge. For now, Chattanooga's scheduled home finale is at 7 p.m. Saturday against Toronto FC II (8-9-8), which has 32 points and is fighting to move into the upper half of the standings.

"At the beginning of the season, our first goal was to qualify for the playoffs," Red Wolves head coach Jimmy Obleda said Wednesday. "Today, it was official. The boys did it, and I'm so proud of this group of guys.

"The work is not done."

Chattanooga's Ricky Ruiz leads the league with nine assists this season, while Juan Galindrez has scored nine goals — which ranks fifth in the league — to lead a balanced club that is tied for third in the league in scoring. Marky Hernandez's five goals are tied for 18th.

The Red Wolves visit Greenville on Oct. 23 and Forward Madison on Oct. 30 to close the regular season.

 

CFC on road

The Chattanooga Football Club will continue its National Independent Soccer Association schedule with a pair of road matches next week, facing Michigan Stars FC at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and then Chicago House AC at 8:35 p.m. Wednesday.

Chattanooga FC (3-5-2) is currently tied for seventh in the NISA standings with 11 points. The 10-team league is playing an 18-game schedule this fall without playoffs before setting its sights on a full 2022 league slate.

Combining the Legends Cup tournament, NISA's spring season, the Independent Cup and the fall slate, CFC is 10-10-4 overall in 2021.

Brian Bement and Markus Nagelstad have three goals apiece to pace the scoring for CFC, which returns to Finley Stadium on Oct. 23 against New Amsterdam FC.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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