RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Reno 1868 FC midfielder Chris Wehan was named USL Rookie of the Year on Tuesday, capping off an incredible season from one of the brightest stars in U.S. Soccer.
After going undrafted in the MLS SuperDraft out of New Mexico, Wehan capitalized on the opportunity to earn a starting role with Reno during the club’s inaugural season.
Shortly after arriving in Reno, Wehan began what would be an incredible season. Wehan led the USL with 12 assists (tying a USL record), added eight goals and created 66 chances (third in the USL) throughout the regular season.
“I began the year sort of feeling sorry for myself after not being drafted,” Wehan said.
“But I was given a chance to be part of an incredible first season in Reno and become a better player by learning from Coach Russell and some of the veteran players.”
Russell said Wehan’s massive potential was evident and that he was anxious to see the young midfielder develop in Reno.
“We knew about Chris leading up to the draft and what a great player he was at New Mexico,” Russell said. “The people we spoke to all said that Chris’ work ethic is the quality that stuck out most.
“That was evident from the first time he stepped on our pitch. We are so proud of all he accomplished during his first season and how he helped us become a better team both in the locker room and on the pitch.”
Wehan earned several additional accolades as the year went on, eventually earning a spot on the USL’s All-League First Team. He was named the league’s assist champion in October.
For Wehan, his first goal as a professional will always remain with him for several reasons. The goal came in Phoenix on May 6, helping cap off the club’s first ever win.
That 4-0 win helped spark one of the biggest turnarounds in USL history as Reno made its way from the bottom of the table to a third-place finish.
“Scoring my first goal as a professional was a great feeling,” Wehan said. “But what I remember most is that it was just a sigh of relief to get the first win itself.
“I think we started clicking more as a team from that point on. I had to earn my stripes, but the guys began to trust me more as the season progressed. With that, my confidence grew and I’ll be forever grateful for this season for helping me grow as a player and person.”
Reno 1868 FC ended the season with a 17-7-8 record, finishing third in the USL’s Western Conference and setting a new USL record for most goals in a single season (75).
Chris Wehan’s 2017 Stats
• 30 games played (29 starts)
• 2,557 minutes played
• 8 goals
• 12 assists
• 78 percent pass success rate
• 15 clearances
• 25 interceptions