Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal to shut down after 2023 season

Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

The San Diego Loyal have announced they will disband following the 2023 season after they were unable to find a permanent solution for a home stadium.

In a video posted on Thursday, team owner Andrew Vassiliadis confirmed that the club, which was co-founded by former USA international Landon Donovan, would cease operations after four seasons in the second-division USL Championship.

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“Four years ago, Landon Donovan, myself, and our group of investors started on a journey to bring professional soccer back to San Diego. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the first three seasons,” Vassiliadis said.

“Over the last six months, myself, [president] Ricardo Campos and a small part of my team have been looking at all viable options up and down the coast for us to find solutions for [the] academy, for training facilities, for [a] stadium.

“From Oceanside down to the border, we’ve looked at everything and left no stone unturned. Unfortunately, after looking at all of that, I’ve come to the conclusion that this will be the last season for San Diego Loyal.”

The news comes three months after San Diego was awarded Major League Soccer’s 30th franchise, which is set to begin play at Snapdragon Stadium in 2025.

In a news release issued Thursday by the USL, the league cited the lack of a viable stadium as the driving factor in the Loyal shutting down.

“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,” USL deputy chief executive Justin Papadakis said. “Despite collectively pursuing multiple potential options with SD Loyal’s leadership in the San Diego area, an appropriate stadium solution has not materialized.”

Since the club’s inception, the Loyal have played their home matches at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego’s campus. Donovan coached the team for their first three seasons with Nate Miller taking over at the start of the 2023 campaign.

The USL said it will provide more information about the transfer of the franchise rights in coming months.


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