Coach Jimmy Obleda, Chattanooga Red Wolves part ways

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Jimmy Obleda watches the Chattanooga Red Wolves warm up before a USL League One match against Northern Colorado on May 7 at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Jimmy Obleda watches the Chattanooga Red Wolves warm up before a USL League One match against Northern Colorado on May 7 at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge.

The Chattanooga Red Wolves and Jimmy Obleda have mutually agreed to part ways, ending his three-year run as head coach of the professional soccer team after more than three months of speculation regarding his future.

Obleda finished his Red Wolves career with a 24-19-18 record, and he led them to the USL League One semifinals in 2021, just two years after they began competition. But his tenure ended in rocky fashion, with Obleda suspended by the league in late July as it conducted an investigation into his behavior, a move prompted by the USL Players Association.

In August, the league issued a release saying it found he had used "overly aggressive management tactics and insensitive language on multiple occasions" and that he would need to complete "mandatory training as a condition of his eligibility as a USL coach."

The league release noted that while its investigation was complete, Obleda remained on administrative leave, and a team release at the time concurred with that, also saying the Red Wolves would complete their "own investigation and assess appropriate next steps for the club going forward."

Obleda had been at the helm when the Red Wolves beat North Carolina FC 2-1 on July 16 at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge, their third straight victory; he never coached another game, and the club has not issued information on Obleda since then.

However, the USLPA released a statement Tuesday, noting that while it believes a coaching change is the correct outcome, it remains "dissatisfied with the club's handling of the matter from start to finish."

"Player safety and welfare should always be at the forefront of decision making within clubs," the statement read. "In the USLPA opinion, this has not been the case of Chattanooga during this matter.

"The USLPA stands by its decision to file a report with U.S. Center for SafeSport regarding Mr. Obleda's conduct and reiterates the need for SafeSport to investigate the matter further."

After not speaking throughout the duration of his suspension, Obleda issued a statement Tuesday:

"First, I would like to thank my family, the CRW fans, and the Chattanooga community for these past three years. To the players and staff that have reached out through text and phone, I appreciate your support and kind words. I have had an incredible experience while living in this great city.

"I never imagined that the goodbye would be like this. However, it is the best decision for me and my family that I return to California. While on paid leave I chose to remain silent on the situation that took place within the team last year until I could determine what was in my best interest moving forward. I realize that by the club and myself not addressing the many rumors, the lack of response left room for speculation about what had occurred. I want to be transparent with the situation. At no point have I ever put any player in harm's way, used racial or homophobic slurs, or abused any players. All this was substantiated through the league and club investigation. The Players Association representative was present and participated in both the league and club investigations. I willingly cooperated with the league investigation and want to thank them for their thoroughness. What the investigation concluded and was deemed inappropriate was my language and tone I used towards motivating my players. I have apologized to the team if they felt disrespected in any way. After the league concluded the investigation and I was able to return, the club made a choice to finish out the season with the assistant coach.

"I take great pride in what I helped develop in Chattanooga. During the three years, CRW went to a semifinal, a final and CRW holds many records in USL League One. While I was head coach, I invested myself 100% into every player, the organization and community.

"I wish nothing but the best to the city of Chattanooga and the Red Wolves organization."

The statement was emailed to the Times Free Press by Chattanooga attorney Bryan Hoss, but Obleda also posted it on his Twitter account, where the replies included a thank-you from Juan Galindrez, the leading scorer for the Red Wolves this season.

Chattanooga went 8-4-5 under acting head coach Jimmy Weekley and advanced to the league final, where the Red Wolves lost 2-1 to South Georgia Tormenta FC this past Sunday in Statesboro, Georgia.

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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