Sacramento Republic FC travel to Nevada as they face USL Western Conference newcomer Reno 1868 FC in a preseason friendly this Saturday, Mar. 11. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Republic FC will be the first USL club that Reno face ahead of the 2017 USL season. The club has already faced off against several lower level clubs as well as their MLS affiliate, the San Jose Earthquakes.
Ahead of Saturday’s match, get to know Republic FC’s opponent.
Leading the charge for Reno is Head Coach Ian Russell. Russell was named as the first head coach in club history on November 22, 2016. For the last nine years, Russell has served as assistant coach for the San Jose Earthquakes, where he also spent six seasons as a player. During his playing career, Russell was part of the San Jose Earthquakes squad that lifted the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003.
Russell briefly served as the Earthquakes’ interim head coach for two matches at the end of the 2014 season before the arrival of current head coach Dominic Kinnear.
Last June, Reno agreed to a two-year affiliate agreement with the San Jose Earthquakes, after San Jose and Republic FC decided not to renew their own agreement. The terms of the affiliation allow the Earthquakes full control of Reno’s technical side. The affiliates met in two preseason friendlies, with the first encounter on Feb. 18 being 1868 FC’s first ever match at Greater Nevada Field. San Jose snatched the 1-0 victory with a goal from Tommy Thompson. They met again in a closed door friendly in San Jose on Feb. 21 with the match ending in a 1-1 tie.
Reno have had a busy transfer season as they build their inaugural roster. The two most recent additions are forward Cameron Vickers and midfielder Chris Wehan. Vickers signed with the club on Feb. 27. The 28-year-old forward spent part of the 2016 season with Harrisburg City Islanders in the Eastern Conference, tallying one goal in seven appearances. Vickers played collegiately at Sonoma State University, winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association league title with the team in 2008 and 2010. He also played for Phoenix Rising FC in 2015 (then Arizona United SC) as well as several PDL teams throughout his career.
Wehan signed with Reno on Mar. 8. This will be his rookie season, having signed with Reno after spending the last four years playing at the University of New Mexico. The 22-year-old enjoyed a successful collegiate career, leading the Lobos to the 2016 Conference USA Men’s Soccer tournament, where he was named the MVP during his senior year. Wehan also earned NSCAA First Team All-Southwest Region and First Team All-Conference USA honors that same year. Throughout his time with New Mexico, Wehan recorded 31 goals in 80 appearances.
USL standout forward Dane Kelly joined Reno 1868 FC for the 2017 season after helping lead the Swope Park Rangers to the 2016 USL Cup Final. Kelly is currently the all-time USL leading goal scorer with 48 regular-season goals and more than 50 overall. Last season, Kelly scored 8 goals in 23 appearances with Swope Park, including postseason.
There will be two familiar faces in Reno for Republic FC fans, as forward Mackenzie Pridham and midfielder Matt LaGrassa joined the Nevada club after spending the 2016 season in Sacramento. Last season, Pridham scored three goals in 19 appearances while with Republic FC. For his part, LaGrassa claimed a spot in the Republic FC starting XI towards the end of the season after a short loan to Tulsa Roughnecks FC. In his last eight appearances, the Sacramento native recorded two assists and a goal.
Reno 1868 FC play at Greater Nevada Field in the heart of downtown Reno. The stadium holds 9,013 fans and features a natural grass pitch. Greater Nevada Field is also home to the Reno Aces, a AAA baseball team in the Pacific Coast League.
Republic FC played two matches last season at Greater Nevada Field. Republic FC played a friendly against Liverpool FC U21s on May 25, and later a USL match against Real Monarch SLC on June 11.
Saturday’s match between Sacramento Republic FC and Reno 1868 FC will kick off at 4 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field. The match will be streamed and fans can watch it at sacrepublicfc.com/matchday-guide. There will also be live updates via Twitter @SacRepublicFC and using #RNOvSAC.