Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal to fold as city prepares to welcome MLS

August 25 – USL Championship club San Diego Loyal will fold at the end of the current season after four seasons in the second tier US professional league.

US national team legend Landon Donovan, part of the club’s ownership group, was previously head coach of the Loyal, and was named executive vice president of soccer operations in December 2022, but even his celebratory was not enough to keep the doors open.

In a message on the club’s website, chairman Andrew Vassiliadis said: “This will be the last season for the San Diego Loyal.”

“For those of you who’ve gotten to know me, spent some time talking to me, you know how much this hurts for me to say. I love our city, I’m born and raised here and I’ll always be loyal to San Diego.”

The failure of the franchise was attributed to an inability to find a commercially viable stadium as well as viable options for the team’s training facilities and academy. The club had been playing at the 6000-capacity Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego.

The USL said that it “will transition the franchise rights held by USL Championship club San Diego Loyal SC’s ownership group after a viable near- and long-term stadium solution in the market did not materialize.”

No detail as on the transfer of the franchise rights was given.

“Having a modern, commercially viable stadium solution is vital to our clubs’ long-term success and is a pillar of the USL’s growth strategy,” said USL Deputy CEO Justin Papadakis.

“Despite collectively pursuing multiple potential options with SD Loyal’s leadership in the San Diego area, an appropriate stadium solution has not materialized…”

“Bottom line, no matter how well a team performs on the field, having the right stadium situation is essential for all professional sports teams,” Papadakis said.

“We are working with our current and expansion clubs to develop soccer-specific stadiums that will ensure a strong commercial foundation for the clubs and give fans a place to call home for decades.”

One possibility is that the rights could transition to the new MLS franchise awarded in May to San Diego. The investment group led by Egyptian Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, has made a lot of noise about developing talent and selling it on – a USL team, particularly in 2024 before the club makes its MLS debut, would be a perfect testing and development area for the club.

The franchise has been bought for $500 million, and the as yet unnamed San Diego team will play at the 35,000-capacity Snapdragon Stadium, starting with the 2025 season.

The Loyal join a long list of now defunct professional San Diego soccer teams, including the Flash, Pumitas, Gauchos, Top Guns, and Nomads.

With 10 games left of the season – four at home – the Loyal are in fifth place in the USL Championship’s Western Conference and are in playoff contention.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1716205053labto1716205053ofdlr1716205053owedi1716205053sni@n1716205053osloh1716205053cin.l1716205053uap1716205053