Dane Kelly led the USL with 18 goals. (Photo courtesy of Reno 1868 FC)
RENO, Nev. – Dane Kelly added yet another trophy to his collection Wednesday.
The Reno 1868 FC forward, who earned the league’s Golden Boot, was named the United Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player.
He became the second Reno player to earn a major award in as many days, joining midfielder Chris Wehan, who named USL rookie of the year. It also was the first time in USL history that two players on the same team earned top rookie and MVP honors.
Kelly led the league with 18 goals, adding four assists, while garnering first-team USL honors.
“Dane had a tremendous year, adding to his already stellar legacy,” Reno head coach Ian Russell said in a statement on the team’s website. “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,” he 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.”
Kelly recorded back-to-back hat tricks, setting the tone for Reno’s turnaround in early May. A team that was once last in the Western Conference climbed up the ladder for a third-place finish and a playoff berth.
He made his international debut with Jamaica in September as he was called up for the Reggae Boyz’ international exhibition against Canada in Toronto.
“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.”