San Diego is coming to the MLS! What it means for the city and beyond 🏙️🆕


The Southern California city first attempted to join Major League Soccer back in the mid-1990s. 🗓️

The dream has finally come true, and the city is more than ready to cheer for the new franchise. 🙌

San Diego FC is here! Keep reading for everything you need to know about the club as they prepare to take the field in 2025. 👇

America’s Finest City has long been a target for Major League Soccer expansion, and it’s finally happening.

San Diego can be described in many ways, but in the simplest terms, it’s a vibrant, diverse city with quite a lot to offer. Sure, you can say that with many cities across the country and the rest of the world, but Daygo locals will root for their hometown to the grave.

And it seems like that’s where San Diego FC comes in.

Despite being a city with extended football roots, all they had to show for it until recently had been a history of producing professional players.

That is, until the creation of NWSL side San Diego Wave, which was founded in 2021 and took to the field for the first time in 2022. For some, that may be enough, but there was always room for even more.

Fortunately for the passionate football fans across San Diego County, they will finally be able to cheer on a club participating in the highest level of the men’s U.S. soccer pyramid.

All it would take is the right ownership group, the right opportunity, the right timing to get efforts over the line.

In this 32nd edition of the Plei newsletter, I talk about all things San Diego FC, including what’s next for the club in their preparations, backlash that they’re already facing, as well as what this expansion means for the local community. 👇

🛣️ Roadmap for the club

Long story short, San Diego FC has a lot of work to do before they can take the field for the first time.

On Thursday, May 18, 2023, MLS Commissioner Don Garber officially announced that the Southern California city had been awarded the league’s 30th team, which will finally even out the number of clubs in both Conferences.

The club, which was without an official name until October, will begin competition in 2025 and will be playing in the same stadium as their NWSL counterpart in Snapdragon Stadium.

This, as you can imagine, is good news. Already having a 35,000-seat arena to play in is something not many brand-new franchises can boast. Thankfully, that’s one huge box checked off for them.

The problem for San Diego FC is that, less than 14 months away from when they’d be taking the pitch for the first time, it may be the only box they have checked thus far.

Every professional soccer club needs a training facility, and San Diego FC only began construction of their $150M training campus last month. Groundbreaking took place on November 9, kickstarting a race against time to complete the facility by January of 2025.

The photo at the start of this section is the aerial render of the complex, and we have to say, it’s beautiful.

Yes, there’s quite a lot going on in the photo, so we broke it all down below.

Located on the northwestern portion of the Sycuan Reservations east of El Cajon, San Diego FC’s 28-acre training facility will feature:

  • A dormitory (converted from a former hotel) for the club’s residential, invitation-only youth academy known as Right to Dream

  • A 50,000 square-foot, two-story performance center which will have separate spaces for professional players and academy members, as well as a shared dining area

  • Two (2) outdoor agility areas

  • Five (5) full-side training fields

  • One (1) half-size field for goalkeeper-specific training

Lots of construction to be completed, and not much time to work with.

They also only have one player on their roster as of December 13, but we expect that number to grow steadily throughout 2024.

😅 Backlash already?

The bulk of criticism that football clubs receive is typically directed at their performances throughout a season. Unfortunately for San Diego FC, they’ve been getting ripped apart ever since they unveiled their team name, logo and meaning behind it all.

Honestly, from face value, their logo isn’t even that bad. It seems pretty vibrant and eye-catching while also maintaining a sort of minimalistic vibe, which is acceptable for my personal taste.

But as I’m not from San Diego, my opinion doesn’t matter at all, and I fully understand that.

On October 19, the club’s official name, logo and branding were leaked by The Athletic, a day before the team itself was planning on unveiling everything.

Let me say that, after much digging, I have yet to find a positive comment about the crest from someone from San Diego. After reading what people have to say about it, I can see why there has been so much negative reception.

It seems like the general consensus is that the logo in itself isn’t necessarily a badly designed one, but the fact that it’s supposed to represent San Diego is what is making fans unhappy.

That all being said, here are some of the best reactions that I was able to find across social media.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 What it means for the city and the people

Despite early criticisms towards the club’s branding, it’s hard to argue against the impact that San Diego FC will undoubtedly have on the already huge local soccer community.

Much of the club’s focus will be on the youth and giving academy players plenty of attention and opportunity. This intention is already very much visible, especially with the design of the under-construction training complex, which will feature spaces such as the dining center that will be shared by youth and first team personnel.

The hope is to create a brand new culture where academy members can learn from professional players first-hand, and having them share the same common areas will inevitably inspire them to continue learning and developing in order to one day reach the big leagues themselves.

Their proposed recruiting process is also very much reflective of this culture.

San Diego FC recruits will be searching far and wide for the best young talents in order to fill up their academy ranks, but heavy priority will be placed in discovering prodigies within San Diego, as well as finding players that may otherwise be unable to join pay-to-play soccer clubs because of financial roadblocks.

The academy will be making it so players that they invite will be able to attend completely free of charge thanks to scholarships that are valued at about $65,000 a year.

As for the first team, the goal is simple: to sign the best players in the world, as far-fetched as that may be for a brand-new franchise in the MLS.

Nevertheless, they will try their best, and with a solid youth system concept in place to sustain them, don’t be surprised when they are competing for titles as soon as 2025.

At the end of the day, no matter how well San Diego FC does, what matters most is the representation that they will have, especially after the San Diego Loyal SC had no choice but to shut down following the 2023 USL season.

It was a long time coming, but San Diego is finally in Major League Soccer. The city has been prepared for decades, and the excitement is contagious.

We just hope they listen to their supporters and revise their logo & branding before they start making history on the pitch.

That’s it for the 32nd edition of our newsletter! 😅
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