Khano Smith has been appointed as the first Head Coach and General Manager in Rhode Island FC history, bringing extensive experience from the professional ranks as a player and a coach during his career. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC
PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Rhode Island FC announced on Wednesday the club had appointed Khano Smith as its first Head Coach and General Manager in club history. Smith is a veteran coach, holding both USSF and UEFA Pro Licenses, as he prepares to lead the 2024 USL Championship expansion club into its inaugural season next spring.
“I am honored and humbled to be back in New England. I’m excited to build a winning culture with Rhode Island FC,” said Smith. “Rhode Islanders deserve a team they can call their own and I intend to build a side that every Rhode Islander will be proud of. I’m incredibly thankful to Brett Johnson, my former teammate Michael Parkhurst and the entire Rhode Island FC team for having trust in me and my approach to the beautiful game.”
A former player for the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer and a past captain of the Bermuda National Team, Smith will officially take the reins of Rhode Island FC’s sporting side later this month. He is currently the first assistant coach with Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship.
As Head Coach and General Manager, Smith will lead Rhode Island FC’s soccer operations. He will oversee roster development, manage the technical staff and team operations while fulfilling head coaching duties.
“Khano Smith is one of the brightest and fastest rising coaching talents in North American soccer. He has a well-earned reputation amongst his peers for getting the most out of his players and building a culture of excellence. We’re incredibly fortunate to have him in Rhode Island,” said Rhode Island FC chairman and co-founder Brett Johnson. “Khano will establish a winning tradition on the pitch, and he’ll be an ambassador to Rhode Island’s amazing soccer community. I am confident that he will lead our soccer operations in the right direction and help build a strong foundation for success.”
Since joining Birmingham Legion FC as an assistant coach prior to its inaugural season in 2019, Khano Smith has helped the club reach the USL Championship Playoffs every season. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
Smith started his coaching career with the New England Revolution Academy shortly after retiring as an MLS player. He has coached at every level of the game and been a part of coaching staffs on both the men’s and women’s professional sides. As an assistant coach with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), he saw his side earn a 19-1-1 record. After his successful season at SNHU, Smith joined the coaching staff for the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League and helped propel the team to the league semifinals in 2017. Smith was hired as an assistant coach for Legion FC’s inaugural season in 2019. Since then, he has aided Head Coach Tom Soehn to rising success, with Legion FC having advanced to the USL Championship Playoffs in all four seasons of its history.
“I had a front row seat to watch [Head Coach] Tommy [Soehn] and Jay build a winning culture in Birmingham, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to do the same in Rhode Island,” said Smith. “I would not be in this position without the support of the entire Birmingham family. North American soccer in expanding and the USL Championship is getting stronger each year. I look forward to competing against my friends and doing my part to promote the beautiful game. Birmingham will always be a part of me.”
As a player, Smith appeared in more than 100 matches over six seasons in Major League Soccer, including four seasons with the Revolution. Smith was known for his game-winning goals, including scoring the go-ahead goal in the 2005 Eastern Conference Final to propel the Revolution to MLS Cup. Smith’s international experience includes 33 caps and 10 goals for the Bermuda Men’s National Team between 2003 and 2014.
“I played alongside Khano for four seasons with the New England Revolution and saw personally how fierce a competitor and how loyal a teammate he is,” said Rhode Island FC co-founder Michael Parkhurst. “Khano hits the mark on all the attributes we were looking for in a coach and there is no one better equipped than him to create the opening chapters of a storied winning tradition for Rhode Island FC.”
“Khano is one of the most reputable and sought-after coaching talents in the North American soccer landscape,” added Rhode Island FC President Brett Luy. “We are fortunate to have him in Rhode Island. His addition is another positive development for our club as we build it piece-by-piece and head towards 2024.”
Smith has a masters from SNHU in Sports Management.
Smith plans to host a number of fan and supporter events after his official start with Rhode Island FC later this month. Smith plans to move to Rhode Island in the coming weeks following the completion of his coaching obligation with Birmingham Legion FC later this month.