San Diego lands MLS expansion team



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MLS awards expansion team to San Diego Image: Snapdragon Stadium, Spatms, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is coming to San Diego (US).

‘MLS’ stated that the Southern California City has been awarded the league’s 30th team, the MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced on May 18th.

San Diego will begin competing as an expansion club in 2025 at the Snapdragon Stadium – the 35,000-seat venue that’s already home to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL’s) San Diego Wave FC and is a host venue for the 2023 Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) Gold Cup – while their name and crest will be announced in the buildup to their debut season.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 29 teams – 26 in the United States and 3 in Canada – since the 2023 season. The league is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan (US).

The 35,000-capacity Snapdragon Stadium, known during its planning and early construction phases as the Aztec Stadium, is an outdoor stadium in San Diego, California (US). It is located on the campus of the San Diego State University at the SDSU Mission Valley, a 166-acre non-contiguous expansion parcel West of the main campus.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is a professional women’s soccer league at the top of the United States league system. Headquartered in New York City, it is owned by the teams and, until 2020, was under a management contract with the United States Soccer Federation.

The 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup will be the 17th edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup, the biennial international men’s football championship of the North, Central American and Caribbean region organized by the Concacaf. Canada and the United States will host the tournament, which is scheduled to take place from June 24th-July 16th, 2023.

Miami (US)-based the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, abbreviated as Concacaf, is one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies for association football.

‘MLS’ further stated that the club is owned by Mohamed Mansour – a distinguished entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist with deep, global ties in the soccer world – and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

The Sycuan Tribe becomes the first Native American tribe to have an ownership stake in professional soccer in the United States. Also joining the investor group is six-time Major League Baseball All-Star and San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado.

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation is a Federally-recognized tribe of Mission Indians from Southern California, located in an unincorporated area of the San Diego County just East of El Cajon. The Sycuan band is a Kumeyaay tribe, one of the four ethnic groups indigenous to the San Diego County.

Exulted Garber, “We are thrilled to welcome San Diego to Major League Soccer as our 30th team. For many years we have believed San Diego would be a terrific MLS market due to its youthful energy, great diversity and the fact that soccer is an essential part of everyday life for so many people. Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Tribe have an incredible vision for building a club that will inspire and unite soccer fans throughout the City and the region.”

The other founding partners include Brad Termini (Co-founder, Zephyr Partners), Tom Vernon (Founder, Right to Dream) and Dan Dickinson (Board Member, Right to Dream). Highly-respected sports executive Tom Penn will serve as the club’s head honcho.
 

Right to Dream Connection

Mansour is the Founder and Chairman of the London-based investment management firm Man Capital, which owns Right to Dream (RTD), the global soccer community of world-class academies, clubs and partners with an innovative approach to identifying and nurturing talent.

The RTD has developed numerous world-class players who have gone on to play at the highest level for the club and the United States in MLS, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League and the FIFA World Cup™, including seven graduates who represented their countries in the 2022 FIFA World Cup™. The global academy network also operates an elite performance and development environment at top-tier Danish club FC Nordsjaelland that is studied and admired globally.

Enthused Mansour, “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Sycuan Tribe to bring Major League Soccer to such a deserving community and legion of San Diego soccer fans. This is a real opportunity to create a powerful and lasting legacy for the City and the region. We look forward to introducing Right to Dream’s unique developmental approach and unparalleled soccer expertise to San Diego and the MLS by delivering tangible benefits to the community as we look to open doors and identify and nurture talent from across the county and beyond.”
 

Sycuan Tribe makes History

As an essential partner with Mansour and RTD, the Sycuan Tribe brings a distinctive community connection and understanding to the area’s MLS expansion club, with the tribe residing in and around San Diego for more than 12,000 years.

One of 12 Kumeyaay tribes in the San Diego County, Sycuan has been a long-term partner with countless major institutions in the community, including the Major League Baseball (MLB) team San Diego Padres, San Diego Symphony (American symphony orchestra), the Children’s Hospital, and hundreds of local non-profits.

Commented Cody Martinez, Sycuan Tribal Chairman, “What a proud moment this is for the City and the Sycuan Tribe to bring the MLS to San Diego. Sycuan has deep roots to the San Diego community and found an incredible partner in Mohamed Mansour and the soccer expertise that he brings with Right to Dream. Sycuan continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to the San Diego region and our MLS team will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community through their passion for the game.”
 

Snapdragon Stadium, Manny Machado and the San Diego Community

From the ownership group to the Snapdragon Stadium, MLS’ 30th team is driven by a community-first ethos. Machado – a fan favorite who signed a record-breaking contract with the Padres in 2019 – works with his wife Yainee on helping underserved kids in the community.

Maintained Machado, “I am grateful for the opportunity to join the San Diego MLS ownership group. I continue to plant roots in this amazing community that means so much to me and build upon my connection with the incredible fans.”

Snapdragon Stadium, the club’s future home, opened in 2022 and memorably hosted the San Diego Wave FC for the NWSL’s most-attended match (32,000-plus). Located on the San Diego State University’s campus, the stadium features a natural grass playing surface and previously hosted a Liga MX (Mexico) friendly between the neighboring Club Tijuana (Mexican professional football club based in Tijuana) and Club América (a professional football club based in Mexico City).

Put in Tom Penn, the club Chief Executive Officer (CEO), “San Diego is a community with a rich sporting history and long considered the heart of soccer development in North America. With the addition of MLS, we will inspire lasting change through the sport in San Diego and unite soccer fans throughout the region. We will deliver sustained excellence on the field, unprecedented investment in player development and create a shared, joyous experience for fans at the Snapdragon Stadium, one of the premier soccer venues in professional soccer.”
 

Reserve Season Tickets

Soccer fans can reserve their place on the list for season tickets to San Diego’s inaugural MLS season by donating $18 at SanDiegoFC.com. All proceeds will go to the San Diego Foundation to fund non-profits investing in the development of youth soccer across the San Diego County.

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