Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
RENO, Nev. – The San Jose Earthquakes may have been the winners on the field, but Reno 1868 FC’s inaugural contest on Saturday made the USL expansion club a winner as well as more than 6,200 fans packed into Greater Nevada Field to see the club begin its preparations for its first season.
“The crowd was great. I didn’t know there was such a passion for soccer up here in Reno, You could hear them loud and clear on the field,” Earthquakes Homegrown forward Tommy Thompson told the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Jim Krajewski. “Credit to Reno, they did a great job.”
Thompson, who himself has seen action on loan in the USL with Sacramento Republic FC in the past three seasons, scored the only goal of the game with a highlight-reel back-heeled finish that landed him on the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 on Saturday night. The loss aside, though, 1868 FC Head Coach Ian Russell was pleased with what he saw from his squad.
“There were a bunch of payers that did well who are going to have a good season,” Russell told Krajewski. “I knew this was a good soccer community and you could see it.”
Led by the Battle Born Brigade, fans built on the success the city saw when 1868 FC hosted both an international exhibition and a USL regular season contest between Republic FC and Real Monarchs SLC last summer. As the club begins its hybrid partnership with the Earthquakes this year, San Jose Head Coach Dominic Kinnear said the atmosphere was one he was looking forward to returning to in future visits.
“The atmosphere of the stadium is really neat and very intimate,” Kinnear said. “I expect the same when I come here next time.”