Rhode Island FC

Rhode Island FC
Nickname(s)RIFC
FoundedDecember 2, 2019; 4 years ago (2019-12-02)
StadiumBeirne Stadium
Smithfield, Rhode Island
Capacity5,252[1]
OwnersBrett M. Johnson
Michael Parkhurst
Head coachKhano Smith
LeagueUSL Championship
2024Inaugural season
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Rhode Island FC is an American professional soccer club headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The team plays in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship.

History[edit]

On December 2, 2019, under the leadership of Brett M. Johnson, the co-founder and owner of Rhode Island FC, it was announced that a USL Championship team playing in a new soccer-specific stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island would be a centerpiece for a large development project to be named Tidewater Landing.[2] The stadium was proposed to seat at least 10,000 fans[3] and be connected to shops, apartments, offices, and a hotel in a $400-million plan. The project's initial goal was to have the team playing by 2022.

In order to move forward with the project, team ownership requested partial funding from the State of Rhode Island and City of Pawtucket, with the remainder covered by team ownership. Plans moved slowly due to inflation and supply-chain delays caused by COVID-19, and costs increased from initial projections.[4] Rhode Island's Governor, Dan McKee, cast the deciding vote in a Rhode Island Commerce Corporation meeting on July 25, 2022, to provide funding and allow construction of the stadium.[5] Groundbreaking occurred on August 12, 2022.[6][7]

On November 14, 2022, the team announced their name as Rhode Island FC (RIFC) and revealed their team crest and colors. The crest incorporated an anchor design, with a monogram of "RI" embedded in the anchor stem. Lightning bolts were placed at the edges of the anchor to represent the team's energy. The team noted that the anchor has been historically a symbol of Rhode Island since 1647, and the modern design in the crest gives evidence of "hope" and being "grounded in the community". Team colors were established as amber and bay blue.[8][9]

The day after the team name was announced, RIFC allowed fans to place advance deposits for purchase of season tickets, which could be applied for a later purchase. The team reported success with the deposits with more than 2500 in the first week, exceeding volume from any previous USL franchise at their debut. By December, the team reported receiving season ticket deposits from customers in each of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns.[10][11]

Former Bermuda national team captain Khano Smith was named the team's first head coach and general manager on March 8, 2023.[12]

Work on the new facility continued after the groundbreaking, but stalled out as owners needed more funding due to additional construction costs.[13][14] The team announced that it would make plans to play its first season at Bryant University's Beirne Stadium while completing construction of the stadium at Tidewater Landing.[15] Additional funding was obtained by the owners from unnamed investors. Full financial support for construction was announced on August 9, 2023, and bonds were issued in early 2024 to complete the financing.[16][17][18] The total construction cost of the stadium is estimated at $130 million.[19]

On November 1, 2023, the team announced the signing of the first player in team history, Spanish goalkeeper Koke Vegas. Vegas came to the team after playing for the San Diego Loyal for two years, and many years at various clubs in Spain.[20] He was subsequently named the team's first captain on March 12, 2024, several days prior to the team's first game.[21]

Chip wearing the RIFC Energy Kit
Chip wearing the RIFC Energy Kit

Chip, RIFC's mascot, was introduced on November 9, 2023. Chip is an anthropomorphic harbor seal, who loves football and roots for RIFC as his favorite team. The harbor seal is the official marine mammal of the state of Rhode Island.[22] Symbolic of his Rhode Island roots, the team described Chip as having thirteen whiskers (Rhode Island being the thirteenth state), spots on his fur that look like the team crest, and a marking on his nose that looks like an anchor. He wears a headband that reads "wicked good soccer". He also enjoys eating fish and chips, quahogs, and hot wieners.[23][24]

The team held a "reveal party" on December 4, 2023, to show off their new home and away kits.[25] The home kit, dubbed the "energy kit", is a mainly bay blue uniform with lightning bolt trim to evoke the lightning bolts in the team's crest. The away kit is known as the "Rhode kit" and is amber with lighter yellow pinstripes. The names of all 39 cities and towns of Rhode Island are embedded in the pinstripes, and a nautical design of knotted ropes is added as a detail on some of the striping. The team stated that the kit is a "commitment to community" for away games. Both kits have the team's crest on the front left chest, and the logos of the three primary sponsors on the front, sleeve, and back.[26][27]

The team's inaugural match was a sellout on March 16, 2024, against New Mexico United, ending in a 1-1 tie. The first goal in team history was an own goal scored in second-half stoppage time by New Mexico defender Chris Gloster.[28] It was the first time in USL Championship history that a team earned a point in its inaugural game.[29]

Sponsorship[edit]

Season Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor Sleeve sponsor
2024– Capelli Sport[30] Front: Breeze Airways[31]
Back: Rhode Island Energy[32]
Centreville Bank[33]

Players and staff[edit]

Current roster[edit]

As of July 3, 2024[34]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Spain ESP Koke Vegas
2 DF England ENG Nathan Messer
3 DF United States USA Stephen Turnbull
4 DF United States USA Collin Smith
5 DF United States USA Grant Stoneman
9 FW United States USA JJ Williams
10 FW Cameroon CMR Albert Dikwa
11 FW United States USA Noah Fuson
12 DF United States USA Clay Holstad
14 FW Republic of Ireland IRL Mark Doyle
15 DF Cuba CUB Frank Nodarse
16 DF Brazil BRA Gabriel Alves
No. Pos. Nation Player
17 MF Rwanda RWA Jojea Kwizera
18 MF United States USA Joe Brito
19 MF United States USA Kevin Vang
20 MF Haiti HAI Zachary Herivaux
21 MF Ghana GHA Kofi Twumasi
22 GK Australia AUS Jackson Lee
23 MF United States USA Marc Ybarra
24 DF Canada CAN Karifa Yao
28 MF United States USA Conor McGlynn
30 GK United States USA Nate Silveira
77 MF United States USA Amos Shapiro-Thompson
80 MF Puerto Rico PUR Isaac Angking
As of May 31, 2024[35]
Front Office
President United States David Peart[36]
General Manager Bermuda Khano Smith
Assistant General Manager United States Sean Carey
Stadium General Manager United States Paul Byrne
Office Manager United States Julia Menendez
Technical Staff
Head Coach Bermuda Khano Smith
Assistant Coach Republic of Ireland Dave McKay
Assistant Coach United States Marcos Ugarte
Assistant Coach / Director of goalkeeping England Karl Spratt
Team Administrator United States Jason Gove
Head of Video Analytics Venezuela Juan Andres Vasquez
Head Athletic Trainer United States Teresse Rehwoldt
Director of Sports Performance United States Matthew DelGreco
Equipment Manager United States Nicholas Coelho

Team records[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

  • Includes USL Regular Season, USL Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup. Excludes friendlies. Updated through July 13, 2024.
Coach Nationality Start End Games Win Loss Draw Win %
Khano Smith[12]  Bermuda March 8, 2023 present 19 4 4 11 021.05

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rhode Island FC Adds 250 Seats to Beirne Stadium Set Up Ahead of 2024 Season". Rhode Island Football Club. December 14, 2023. Archived from the original on December 16, 2023. Retrieved December 16, 2023.
  2. ^ "Rhode Island Unveils 7,500-Seat Soccer-Specific Stadium Anchored by USL Championship Club". USL. December 2, 2019. Archived from the original on October 25, 2022. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  3. ^ "Pawtucket celebrates Tidewater Landing project coming to waterfront". ABC6. August 12, 2022. Archived from the original on December 16, 2022. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  4. ^ "Pawtucket soccer stadium costs have grown by $41M". WPRI. June 1, 2022. Archived from the original on December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  5. ^ "McKee's tiebreaking vote moves Tidewater Landing project forward". WPRI. July 26, 2022. Archived from the original on December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  6. ^ "Officials break ground on Tidewater Landing project". WPRI. August 12, 2022. Archived from the original on August 11, 2023. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  7. ^ "Stadium groundbreaking moves Rhode Island toward 2024 debut in USL Championship". USL. August 12, 2022. Archived from the original on December 1, 2022. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  8. ^ "Rhode Island FC unveils club identity, colors, crest". USL. November 14, 2022. Archived from the original on December 18, 2023. Retrieved December 17, 2023.
  9. ^ "Crest". Rhode Island FC. December 17, 2023. Archived from the original on December 18, 2023. Retrieved December 17, 2023.
  10. ^ "Rhode Island FC season ticket sales break record". WPRI. November 23, 2022. Archived from the original on December 21, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  11. ^ "Rhode Island FC: Fans from all cities, towns buy season tickets". WPRI. December 19, 2022. Archived from the original on December 18, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  12. ^ a b "Rhode Island FC Names Khano Smith as Club's First Head Coach and General Manager". Rhode Island Football Club. March 8, 2023. Archived from the original on March 8, 2023. Retrieved March 8, 2023.
  13. ^ "Pawtucket soccer stadium construction stalls amid funding woes". WPRI. June 21, 2023. Archived from the original on December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  14. ^ "Stadium work pauses amid financing issues". Valley Breeze. June 28, 2023. Archived from the original on December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  15. ^ "Rhode Island FC Announces Partnership with Bryant University for 2024 Season". USLChampionship.com. USL Championship. June 9, 2023. Archived from the original on June 11, 2023. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  16. ^ "Fortuitous Partners Closes Equity Raise for Tidewater Landing Phase 1A, Has Letters of Commitment on Private Debt". RIFC. August 9, 2023. Archived from the original on December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  17. ^ "Pawtucket soccer stadium developer says it now has enough money to move forward". WPRI. August 11, 2023. Archived from the original on December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  18. ^ "A stadium is rising in Pawtucket. So are the costs to get it built". Boston Globe. January 19, 2024. Archived from the original on January 26, 2024. Retrieved January 25, 2024.
  19. ^ "Public borrowing for Tidewater Landing soccer stadium — now twice as expensive — has closed". Boston Globe. February 8, 2024. Archived from the original on February 8, 2024. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  20. ^ "Rhode Island FC Signs First Player Ahead of Inaugural Season". Rhode Island Football Club. November 1, 2023. Archived from the original on November 1, 2023. Retrieved November 1, 2023.
  21. ^ "Koke Vegas Named RIFC Captain". The Blazing Musket. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  22. ^ Gregg, Katherine. "It's official: Harbor seal is R.I.'s state mammal". The Providence Journal. Retrieved March 24, 2024.
  23. ^ @rhodeislandfc (November 9, 2023). "Introducing our newest team member, Chip the Harbor seal" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  24. ^ "Rhode Island FC Introduces Chip as the Club's Official Team Mascot". Rhode Island Football Club. November 9, 2023. Archived from the original on December 22, 2023. Retrieved December 21, 2023.
  25. ^ "Rhode Island FC announces jerseys for inaugural season". ABC6. December 5, 2023. Archived from the original on December 15, 2023. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  26. ^ "Rhode Island FC Makes Surprise Announcement of Club's Striker During Kit Reveal Party". December 5, 2023. Archived from the original on December 27, 2023. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  27. ^ RIFC Launches 2024 Home & Away Jerseys. Rhode Island Football Club. December 4, 2023. Archived from the original on December 27, 2023. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  28. ^ "Rhode Island FC Makes History with Inaugural USL Championship Match". rhodeislandfc.com. March 16, 2024. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  29. ^ "Match Center | USLChampionship.com". www.uslchampionship.com. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  30. ^ "Rhode Island FC unveils home and away kits for inaugural USL Championship season". USLChampionship.com Staff. December 4, 2023. Archived from the original on December 5, 2023. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  31. ^ Reimann, Ben (December 4, 2023). "Rhode Island FC Lands Breeze Airways as Front-of-Jersey Sponsor". rhodeislandfc.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2023. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  32. ^ Reimann, Ben (November 7, 2023). "Rhode Island FC Announces Rhode Island Energy as the Club's Exclusive Electric and Natural Gas Partner". rhodeislandfc.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2023. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  33. ^ Reimann, Ben (November 16, 2023). "Rhode Island FC Announces Partnership with Centreville Bank". rhodeislandfc.com. Archived from the original on December 4, 2023. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  34. ^ "Roster Archive". Rhode Island FC. Retrieved July 8, 2024.
  35. ^ "Front Office". Rhode Island FC. Archived from the original on August 1, 2023. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
  36. ^ "Rhode Island FC Announces David Peart as New Club President". Rhode Island FC. Retrieved May 31, 2023.

External links[edit]