RIFC names Smith as franchise’s first head coach, general manager

Former New England Revolution player to lead soccer operations

Posted 3/8/23

PAWTUCKET — Khano Smith has been named the first head coach and general manager for Rhode Island Football Club, the expansion franchise announced in a release Wednesday, March 8.

Smith is a …

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RIFC names Smith as franchise’s first head coach, general manager

Former New England Revolution player to lead soccer operations


PAWTUCKET — Khano Smith has been named the first head coach and general manager for Rhode Island Football Club, the expansion franchise announced in a release Wednesday, March 8.

Smith is a veteran coach and holds a USSF Pro License. He is former player for the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls and is a past captain of the Bermuda National Team. He will officially take the reins of Rhode Island FC sporting side later in the month. He is currently the first-assistant head coach with Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship.

Rhode Island FC will compete in USL Championship beginning in the 2024 season. The club will host its matches in a state-of-the-art soccer stadium currently under construction along the Pawtucket waterfront, Tidewater Landing. The club unveiled its team name and crest late in 2022.

As the head coach and general manager, Smith will lead Rhode Island FC’s soccer operations. He will oversee roster development, manage the technical staff and team operations while serving the head coaching duties.

“Khano Smith is one of the brightest and fastest rising coaching talents in North American soccer. He has a well-earned reputation amongst his peers for getting the most out of his players and building a culture of excellence. We’re incredibly fortunate to have him in Rhode Island,” said Rhode Island FC chairman and co-founder Brett Johnson. “Khano will establish a winning tradition on the pitch, and he’ll be an ambassador to Rhode Island’s amazing soccer community. I am confident that he will lead our soccer operations in the right direction and help build a strong foundation for success.”

As the club’s first head coach and general manager, Smith will lead the team’s soccer operations and be responsible for roster development and technical staff.

“I played alongside Khano for four seasons with the New England Revolution and saw personally how fierce a competitor and how loyal a teammate he is,” said Rhode Island FC co-founder, 2005 MLS Rookie of the Year, Olympian, MLS Cup Winner, and Cranston native Michael Parkhurst. “Khano hits the mark on all the attributes we were looking for in a coach and there is no one better equipped than him to create the opening chapters of a storied winning tradition for Rhode Island FC.”

Smith started his coaching career with the New England Revolution Academy shortly after retiring as an MLS player. He has coached at every level of the game and been a part of coaching staffs on both the men’s and women’s professional sides. As an assistant coach with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), he saw his side earn a 19-1-1 record. After his successful season at SNHU, Smith joined the coaching staff for the Orlando Pride (NWSL) and helped propel the team to the league semifinals in 2017. Smith was hired as an assistant coach with Legion FC in 2019. Legion FC joined USL Championship in 2019 and has never missed the league’s playoffs.

“Khano is one of the most reputable and sought-after coaching talents in the North American soccer landscape,” added Rhode Island FC President Brett Luy. “We are fortunate to have him in Rhode Island. His addition is another positive development for our club as we build it piece-by-piece and head towards 2024.”

As a player, Smith appeared in more than 100 matches over six seasons in Major League Soccer, including four seasons with the New England Revolution. Smith was known for his game-winning goals, including scoring the go-ahead goal in the 2005 Eastern Conference MLS Final to propel the Revolution to the MLS Cup Championship. Smith’s international experience includes 33 caps and 10 goals for the Bermuda Men’s National Team between 2003 and 2014.

“I am honored and humbled to be back in New England. I’m excited to build a winning culture with Rhode Island FC,” said Smith. “Rhode Islanders deserve a team they can call their own and I intend to build a side that every Rhode Islander will be proud of. I’m incredibly thankful to Brett Johnson, my former teammate Michael Parkhurst and the entire Rhode Island FC team for having trust in me and my approach to the beautiful game.”

Rhode Island FC signed a lease for the club’s headquarters and front office earlier this week. The club will be headquartered at 175 Main Street in the heart of Pawtucket and began hiring staff early this year. By the end of 2023, the club expects to create more than 30 full-time jobs.

“We are committed to building a winning club in the heart of Pawtucket, and that starts by establishing a headquarters for our team,” said Luy. “The support from Rhode Islanders across the state for our team continues to be overwhelming, and we are well positioned to begin building the organization. We’ll start hiring early next year and look forward to creating 30+ new jobs in Pawtucket over the next 12 months as we prepare for our inaugural USL season."

The club will build out the space to create a modern, professional office setting for the team’s front office, including the sales, marketing, community engagement, and sporting departments that are currently being built. Additionally, the club will have team merchandise for sale at the headquarters later in 2023.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.