Chattanooga Boo-Hoo: FC Tucson beats Red Wolves for 3rd time this season
PK strike from Bedoya & goal from Fox secure much-needed win
After FC Tucson’s late-night match with North Carolina FC on Tuesday, Louis Pérez said that every game from here on out is a “Cup match.” It’s because dropping any match between now and the last regular season match on October 15 would mean the team is out of the playoffs.
The team absolutely needed a win against Chattanooga Red Wolves at Kino North Stadium on Saturday night. Pérez and his pitch brothers got exactly what they needed with a 2 - 1 win against the visitors from Tennessee.
Despite his starting 11 on Tuesday playing a lightning-delayed match that went until well after 11 p.m., Pearlman opted for what worked and started the exact same lineup with the first substitutions coming after the 70th minute.
FC Tucson’s first goal came in minute 30 after Daniel Bedoya made a run into the box. The run left only Josue España between the Tucson forward and the goal. Josue made a desperation check on Bedoya, and the referee called a penalty. Bedoya struck the penalty perfectly and gave Tucson an early lead.
A hand ball in the box by Luca Mastrantonio gave Chattanooga their own chance at a penalty kick only moments later. Moe Espinoza took the kick for his team to earn his seventh goal of the season.
It took until the second half for a goal to be scored from the run of play. In minute 48, defender Kaelon Fox slipped the ball past Chattanooga keeper Carlos Avilez. Giovanni Calixtro made the books as the assist on the goal, but the sequence that created it included passes from Donny Toia and Daniel Bedoya.
Chattanooga outside back Devin Benton was sent off in minute 67, but his team remained dangerous. FC Tucson keeper Carlos Merancio was up for the task and the game ended, at a reasonable hour this time, with FC Tucson on top.
The result meant that FC Tucson was undefeated in September, earning 13 points in five matches. Merancio only conceded one goal from the run of play all month. This isn’t the sort of run one would expect from reading box scores as recently as August. After the match, goal scorer, defender and team captain Kaelon Fox talked about the team’s late season run.
“We're in a really good run of play. I think it's our fifth consecutive tie or win so we're on a good run. We finished the month of September undefeated, which is awesome,” he said. “We didn't do a great job in the first half of the season, but it's do or die. And when your back is against the wall, you’ve got to perform. And so far in the month of September, we've been doing that just gotta keep it rolling through October.”
The win also makes for a sweep of the Red Wolves for the season. Despite FC Tucson having middling performances at best in the Spring and Summer, coach Jon Pearlman notes that the styles always matched up well with his team.
“They (Chattanooga) like to play through lines. So we like to jump those passing lanes in that midblock formation for us,” Pearlman said. “I think we just match up well against them in the central part, you know, our small, quick, skillful guys against their guys. So if we're in good form, it's a good matchup and we've had success getting after center backs.”
FC Tucson next travels to Greenville, North Carolina to play against the Triumph. The last meeting between the two teams resulted in FC Tucson succumbing to a stoppage time goal at home on August 20. It was the last home loss for FC Tucson.