Photo courtesy Reno 1868 FC
Reno 1868 FC Head Coach Ian Russell met local media for the first time on Thursday, and also took a tour of his new home city as the club continued to build toward its inaugural season in the USL in 2017.
A former top assistant coach for the San Jose Earthquakes – which partnered with 1868 FC earlier this year – in addition to a standout playing career that saw him win MLS Cup twice in 2001 and 2003 with the Quakes, Russell set out the expectations for what his squad would bring to the field.
“It’s going to be a tough place for other teams to come in here,” Russell told the assembled media. “You want to build a squad of players who work hard. They’re going to be fit. It’s going to be a tough place to play. Expansion is always tough, but you get to mold your team the way you want it.”
With 1868 FC’s home of Greater Nevada Field sitting at 4,500 feet altitude, there is the potential for the club to be one of the tougher venues to play at in the USL. While not quite the highest-altitude venue in the USL, a title reserved for Colorado Springs’ Switchbacks Stadium at around 6,000 feet, emulating the Switchbacks’ impressive home performances that have led to back-to-back postseason appearances are likely a goal for Reno.
1868 FC has yet to announce its first player signing, and Russell expects the majority of the squad may not arrive until MLS clubs begin making roster cuts in preseason. The club has been scouting local talent already, however, and Russell hopes there will be some who will represent the club in its inaugural season.
“There’s a lot of players that have come from Reno who have showed really well,” Russell said. “I don’t know a lot about the youth soccer market here, but I know there’s a lot of good players in Reno. We’re hoping one of these players can come through this team and maybe get to the first team.”
Russell also visited Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve on his tour of the city, and spoke with fans at an event at the Ole Bridge Pub in downtown Reno. With the pedigree he brings to the position, 1868 FC General Manager Andy Smith believes he’s found the right man to lead the club into its inaugural season.
“He’s been a leader on the field,” said Smith. “He’s won trophies at the highest level in this country and he’s had great success on the bench as the No. 2. Obviously, the next move is to become a head coach.”