Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
That the USL single-season scoring record was broken in 2017 shouldn’t have been too big of a surprise. Since the initial mark for the league’s modern era was set six years ago, there was only one season that the mark didn’t rise to a new high.
What was different in 2017, though, was by how much the record was broken, and by whom. Entering the season as an expansion club, Reno 1868 FC raised the bar by almost 25 percent from the previous record as its 75 goals led the way in the way the league’s record-breaking achievements in the past season.
Maybe the most remarkable note on 1868 FC’s achievement was that it came after a slow start. Reno was held scoreless twice in its opening four games of the season, but once the attack led by eventual USL Golden Boot-winner Dane Kelly got into gear, it was a struggle for opponents to hold 1868 FC down. A run of six consecutive games with a goal for Kelly led an attack that recorded 22 goals in the same span, while the club also brought the fireworks on the Fourth of July in a 9-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II that set a single-game record for goals and margin of victory.
As tough as that night proved for Los Dos, they also managed a piece of history later in the season thanks to 2017 USL 20 Under 20 selection Ethan Zubak. The No. 3-ranked player in the countdown and U.S. Youth international became the fastest goal-scorer in league history as a tremendous finish against Sacramento Republic FC arrived just 10 seconds in at Papa Murphy’s Park, surpassing Jordan Hamilton’s prior record by eight seconds.
There were other notable goal-scoring achievements over the course of the season. Twenty-four players reached double-digits in goals, the most in a USL regular season, and five players notched double-digit assists. Among those, Reno 1868 FC’s Chris Wehan cemented his USL Rookie of the Year credentials by tying Matt Dallman’s single-season record with 12 assists, while Irvin Parra’s time between Seattle Sounders FC 2 and Orange County SC saw him become the first player in league history to reach double digits in goals and assists.
And while the two biggest individual records of all – Matt Fondy’s 22 goals and Brandon Miller’s 13 shutouts in the 2015 regular season – still stand, from the look of things there will be plenty of competition to set new marks in both as the league continues to grow into 2018.