RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Reno 1868 FC head coach Ian Russell has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2019, the club announced Wednesday.
Russell, who is entering his second season with the club, said he is grateful for the opportunity to grow on what was a record-setting inaugural season.
"I'm very excited to continue building on what we've established here in Reno," Russell said of the extension. "I want to thank (owner) Herb Simon, (president) Eric Edelstein, (general manager) Andy Smith and my assistant coaches Casey Tate and Chris Malenab for helping me lay a foundation here.
“Additionally, the support from (San Jose Earthquakes GM) Jesse Fioranelli, (Earthquakes Technical Director) Chris Leitch, Quakes ownership and the entire organization in San Jose that has been integral to our success both on and off the pitch. I look forward to seeing this team and soccer culture continue to grow."
Russell guided the expansion club to extraordinary heights in 2017. Hired in November 2016, Russell quickly built one of the most prolific scoring teams in recent American pro soccer history.
With 2017 MVP Dane Kelly as the club’s cornerstone, Russell’s squad recovered from a slow start and finished third place in the USL’s Western Conference earning a home playoff match and finishing with a 17-7-8 record in the club’s first year.
Kelly finished as the USL’s Golden Boot winner (18 goals) and Russell helped develop the USL’s Rookie of the Year and Assist Champion, Chris Wehan.
Wehan was one of three Reno players to be signed by MLS affiliate, the San Jose Earthquakes in December, another historic milestone in Russell’s first season as a head coach.
"Ian is clearly one of the top coaches in American pro soccer right now," Reno GM Andy Smith said. "He guided one of the biggest turnarounds I've seen in this sport and turned this expansion club to the highest scoring team in professional soccer in its inaugural season.
"Ian's tactical approach and knack for eyeing young talent are only a few of the qualities that separate him from the rest."
A former Earthquakes star player himself, Russell has risen through the ranks of the coaching system to become one of the top names in American soccer. Prior to his first head coaching job in Reno, Russell spent time as an assistant coach with San Jose, a position he held for eight seasons.
He helped lead the club to the postseason twice, while earning the Supporters’ Shield for best regular season record (19-6-9) in 2012. Russell was also instrumental in the Quakes’ international and collegiate scouting efforts, and briefly helped oversee the club’s youth development as the academy’s technical director.
He served as the Earthquakes interim head coach for the final two games of the 2014 season and holds a U.S. Soccer Federation “A” coaching license.
Russell and 1868 FC hit the pitch on March 3 against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at 4 p.m. inside Greater Nevada Field. Fans who buy a ticket to that match or to the March 17 regular season opener against Swope Park Rangers will receive a free ticket to the March 7 match against Real Monarchs SLC. Tickets are on-sale now at Reno1868FC.com or (775) 334-4700. Be sure to follow Reno 1868 FC on Twitter (@Reno1868FC) and give the club a like on Facebook for the latest news concerning Reno’s professional soccer club.