Photo Courtesy Reno 1868 FC
No previous team in the modern history of USL managed to have the attacking power of Reno 1868 FC in the 2017 campaign, something made especially impressive when remembering this was the club's inaugural season. The first signing in 1868 FC's history, and the leading goalscorer in the USL's modern era, Dane Kelly led the way with an impressive 18-goal tally, enough to win the USL Golden Boot and the USL Most Valuable Player award for the first time, with the team scoring a single-season record 75 goals on the season.
The home crowd at Greater Nevada Field got behind their new team in impressive fashion as well, with the Battle Born Brigade leading support that spurred 1868 FC on to an impressive home record that saw the side lose only twice in the regular season on home turf. The offensive power behind Reno created entertaining and open soccer, with Chris Wehan impressing and claiming the USL Rookie of the Year award as he tied the single-season league record with 12 assists to cap what was a phenomenal season for the new club.
Record: 17-7-8, 59pts
Place: Third in the Western Conference
Goals For: 75
Goals Against: 39
USL Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Quarterfinals (L 1-0 vs. OKC Energy FC)
2017 leaders: Dane Kelly (18 goals), Chris Wehan (12 assists), Matt Bersano (68 saves)
Reno 1868 FC went about building a squad designed to attack, and that is certainly what it did, with players throughout the team scoring a USL single-season record 75 goals. The expansion side got off to an understandably slow start to the season as those pieces came together, but it didn’t take long for Reno 1868 FC to get going and once the goals started flying in they never stopped, with Dane Kelly leading with 18, joined in double figures by Antoine Hoppenot, who had a stellar season and finished tied for 11th himself on 12 goals. That goal-scoring power created entertaining soccer, which proved successful as Reno finished third in the Western Conference.
It may be excusable given Reno 1868 FC was an expansion team in 2017 but a slow start to the season cost Reno somewhat in the USL Western Conference standings. 1868 FC didn’t win a match in the first five games of the season, getting its first victory on May 6th when Dane Kelly's hat trick powered a 4-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC. That period was the difference between first and third, with Reno finishing eight points behind the Regular Season Championship-winning Real Monarchs SLC.
Part of his first professional hat trick, 1868 attacking midfielder Lindo Mfeka made a phenomenal run from inside his own half, beating two defenders on the way before unleashing a shot from more than 30 yards out that picked out the bottom-left corner.
A near-post delivery into the penalty area for Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2's Ben McKendry gets cleverly redirected on goal by the midfielder, but Bersano reacts well to parry the effort aside.