Reno 1868 FC took one step closer to their inaugural 2017 USL season Thursday afternoon when they introduced former San Jose Earthquakes’ assistant coach Ian Russell as club’s first head coach.
Reno general manager Andy Smith introduced the two-time MLS Cup champion at a press conference held at the Great Nevada Field, the official home of 1868 FC. Russell was announced as the club’s first head coach on Nov. 22.
"It was important to find a coach that wants to build this team from the ground up and lead this team in the community and on the field,” Smith said. "Ultimately, we found a coach that was a correct choice for this organization.”
Russell, who just completed his eighth season as San Jose's assistant coach, will lead the Earthquakes’ new affiliate club in the USL’s Western Conference. The club will kick off their inaugural campaign in March of 2017.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Russell said at Thursday’s press conference. “I’ve been apart of the San Jose Earthquakes organization for 16 years. To be able to lead this team and also help the Earthquakes makes this a perfect fit.”
During the press conference, Russell touched on his close relationship with San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear and his overall excitement in becoming a member of the Reno community.
“This is a fully integrated affiliation,” Russell said about the Earthquakes partnership with Reno. “We’re going to get quality players here that are going to make an impact with this squad.
"On the other hand, players that are doing well here will get a chance to play with the first team. It could be for an exhibition game, it could be for training, but my goal here is to get players to get first team experience.”
Russell anticipates having a full roster no later than early February, just in time to face his former club. The two club’s will begin their affiliation with a preseason friendly on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Greater Nevada Field, Reno’s first-ever match.