The North American soccer league confirmed this morning that San Diego County has been granted and expansion club and will begin play in the Spring season of 2018.
San Diego is an under-the-radar soccer hotbed in the United States, being at the forefront of the growth of indoor soccer in the country during the 1980s. In addition, it has very strong youth participation. But critically for NASL, it has not yet had a MLS franchise of its own.
Notably, ownership features four notable players from the world of international football: Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow. This continues a trend of foreign players making investments in American soccer, most notably Paolo Maldini’s partnership with Riccardo Silva in The Miami FC, David Beckham’s pursuit of MLS Miami and Didier Drogba groundbreaking player-owner agreement with Phoenix Rising of USL.
“All my life as a football player, I lived with competition and competition is going to be good for us and for San Diego,” Ba said in a statement released by the league. “I look forward to competing against our fellow California clubs and the rest of the NASL, as well as MLS clubs in the U.S. Open Cup. It is going to be up to us to be the best.”
The University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium will be the club’s temporary home, as ownership seeks to find a location in the county to build a more permanent complex, funded by private capital. This stands in stark contrast with San Diego’s MLS bid, which is reliant on city funding to build what has been called “SoccerCity.”
San Diego joins Orange County NASL (also scheduled to start play in spring 2018) and San Francisco Deltas as part of the league’s west-coast expansion.