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2023 Season Preview: Chattanooga Red Wolves SC

By ETHAN TRIEBSCH -, 03/02/23, 4:30PM EST


New head coach, revamped Red Wolves squad to push for silverware in 2023

New head coach, revamped Red Wolves squad to push for silverware in 2023 | Image Credit: Chattanooga Red Wolves SC

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The Red Wolves enjoyed their most successful campaign in club history a season ago, progressing to the 2022 USL League One Final where the League One originals ultimately fell 2-1 to South Georgia. Factoring in postseason play, Chattanooga led League One with a club record 55 goals, but new Head Coach Ziggy Korytoski will have a tall task ahead if he aims to replicate the Red Wolves’ 2022 success with Chattanooga navigating the offseason departures of four of its top six goalscorers and three of its four All-League selections. 

Chattanooga topped the table on multiple occasions within the first two months of the season, but a summer stretch consisting of just three wins in 10 combined June and July fixtures saw the Red Wolves drop to as low as eighth in the league table. A remarkable turnaround midway through the campaign courtesy of Interim Head Coach Jimmy Weekley allowed the Red Wolves to advance to their second consecutive playoff appearance. Postseason victories over defending league champion Omaha and Players’ Shield-winning Richmond allowed the Red Wolves to advance to its first-ever final. 

The offseason wasn’t exactly kind to the Red Wolves; Chattanooga’s all-time leading goalscorer Juan Galindrez opted to sign with USL Championship side Rio Grande Valley FC, All-League First Team midfielder José Carrera-García returned to California with Cental Valley, and the productive trio of Daniel Navarro, Timmy Mehl and Rafa Mentzingen found new opportunities elsewhere in the league. With that said, Chattanooga reloaded its backline with the additions of veteran centerbacks Manuel Madrid and Richard Rentería, and will hope to see continued growth from a pair of talented youngsters in All-League midfielder Moe Espinoza and former League One champion Carlos Ávilez. 

Players to Watch

Moe Espinoza | Image Credit: Chattanooga Red Wolves SC

MID - Moe Espinoza

In his first season at CHI Memorial Stadium, all Moe Espinoza could do was score bangers for the Red Wolves. The All-League Second Team selection and two-time Goal of the Month winner proved indispensable to Chattanooga’s deep postseason run. The 23-year-old San Diego, Calif. native developed in the youth ranks of Liga MX side Club Tijuana from 2013 to 2019 before returning to his hometown where he made his professional debut with NISA’s San Diego 1904 FC/Albion San Diego in 2019. Espinoza made the move to Chattanooga ahead of the 2022 campaign and exploded for a club- and career-best 15 combined goals and assists. 

Manuel Madrid | Image Credit: Phoenix Rising FC

DEF - Manuel Madrid

The Red Wolves have turned to Concacaf Champions League winner Manuel Madrid to fill the void of the departing pair of All-League defenders Navarro and Mehl. The Liga MX and Liga de Expansión MX veteran has spent the past two seasons in the USL Championship with Phoenix Rising FC where he made 25 appearances and scored one goal. Madrid started his career with Liga MX giants CD Cruz Azul, where he was a part of the side that won the 2014 Concacaf Champions League. He then spent the next six seasons of his club career with Liga de Expansión MX sides CD Cruz Azul Hidalgo Loros UdeC, Leones Negros UdeG, CDS Tampico Madero and Mineros de Zacatecas. With over 163 appearances along the backline in his decorated decade-long career, the Red Wolves will hope to receive a sizeable defensive boost from the 6-foot-3 centerback. 

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