RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Dane Kelly, the USL’s all-time leading scorer and Reno 1868 FC’s star forward, was named the USL’s Most Valuable Player on Wednesday.
After a season in which Kelly won the USL’s Golden Boot, leading the league with 18 goals, and earned a spot on the USL’s All-League First Team, Kelly earned his first MVP award.
“Dane had a tremendous year, adding to his already stellar legacy,” Reno head coach Ian Russell said. “We knew what he brought to the table when we signed him and what a dangerous scorer he was already.
“I think he showed that and more here in Reno. He’s also developed into a better player along the way. He absolutely deserved this award and we’re extremely proud of him.”
Kelly, who has played in the USL since its inception in 2011, said being just considered for MVP meant the world to him.
“This award means everything to me,” Kelly said. “Knowing all of the work I put in this year to become a better player.
“I got to this point with the help of my teammates, coaching staff and Reno 1868 FC supporters. This wouldn’t have been possible without their support. I definitely consider this season my best since being in the USL.”
During Reno’s inaugural season, Kelly recorded back-to-back hat tricks, setting the tone for Reno’s remarkable turnaround in early May. A team that was once last in the Western Conference was able to turn it around in May and climbed all the way to a third-place finish and a playoff berth.
Kelly played a major role throughout the year, chipping in on 22 goals, despite international duty and a brief injury spell.
Kelly made his debut with his native Jamaica this season.
The speedy, agile and instinctive veteran surpassed 60 career USL goals this season, becoming the first player in USL history to accomplish that feat.
Kelly’s 18 goals during the regular season was also good for second-most in league history.
Moreover, Kelly’s output helped Reno become the top-scoring team in America (75 goals) and set a new USL record for most goals in a single season.
“Back in Jamaica, I always dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player and achieving awards like these,” Kelly said. “I just want to thank everyone who helped me make it this far.”
Kelly’s MVP award made it the second award in as many days for Reno 1868 FC. On Tuesday, standout midfielder Chris Wehan was named USL Rookie of the Year. Wednesday was the first time in USL history that two players on the same team earned Rookie of the Year and MVP.
Dane Kelly’s 2017 Stats
• 28 games played (25 starts)
• 2,014 minutes played
• 18 goals
• 4 assists
• 52 shots on target