San Diego FC: MLS’ 30th team reveals name, crest and branding

Oct 20, 2023, 11:00 PM ET

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Football Club officially revealed its name, crest and branding during an event at Snapdragon Stadium on Friday.

The team’s brand unveil follows an announcement in May that the group behind the newly named San Diego FC would be handed an expansion franchise as MLS’ 30th club

Since being given the franchise rights, the club has worked with design agency Pupila, San Diego-based agency The House Of and local soccer supporters with creating the brand identity.

“Our big challenge was to make sure that we created something that reflected and represented this unique community,” club CEO Tom Penn told ESPN before Friday’s event. “We wanted to really engage with the community at a deep level over a long period of time to hear from them what this club needs to mean.”

As for the team’s name, Penn noted that the club decided on either San Diego FC or FC San Diego, with additional feedback pushing toward the former.

“Should we put San Diego and the community first or should we put the football first? The feedback we received was about 85/15 in favor of the community, put San Diego first is the loud and clear answer,” he said.

San Diego FC co-owner Mohamed Mansour and Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation tribal chairman Cody Martinez pose for a photograph with San Diego FC chief executive officer Tom Penn and Right to Dream founder Tom Vernon. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego FC is owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado.

The voice of the local Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation — the first Native American tribe to be part of an ownership group of a professional soccer team in the U.S. — was “very, very important” in creating the brand identity,” Penn noted. Part of that was guided by Cody Martinez, Sycuan’s tribal chairman.

“[Martinez’s] directive to me was: ‘Let’s put together a club and a brand that represents the entire region, not just what outsiders would think, not just the coast, not just the downtown area, not just the surface level of how people think about San Diego,'” Penn said.

“He wanted something that went deep into the fabric of the entire community, East County, North County, the South Bay. The result of that is the flow, that symbol that sits at the heart of our crest.”

Along with chrome and azul as the team’s primary colors, the branding for San Diego FC features yellow, orange, red and blue.

San Diego FC’s crest was created design agency Pupila following consultation with the local community. Courtesy of San Diego Football Club

“Chrome is a color, [but] it’s also an effect,” Penn said. “It’s reflective in nature and because chrome is reflective, it allows us to bring in what we call the colors of the community. The colors of San Diego, we heard, is that gradient of blue to red to orange to yellow.

“The sun, the sea, the foliage. The beauty of this place is represented in the colors of the community. Chrome is also cutting edge, innovative, and this city and this region is full of innovation.”

On Thursday, The Athletic shared details of San Diego FC’s branding, which led to widespread criticism on social media of both the name and crest. When asked about the initial reaction, Penn expressed confidence that perceptions would change in the future.

“We think we’re telling a bit of a complex story here, one that has many layers and one that is deeply rooted in San Diego. So we expect that it will take some time for us to explain the nuance and the reason behind our marks,” he said.

The next important step in the club’s process ahead of its 2025 debut will be hiring its first manager and technical director.

Penn stated that “the timeline for our key football decisions is gonna come after the first of the year, sometime in 2024,” which is when they’ll begin to sign players.

As for the first big signing, Penn suggested he wouldn’t use the same gameplan as when he was president of LAFC during its entry into the league in 2018. The Los Angeles club signed Mexico international Carlos Vela as its first Designated Player.

“We don’t have that specific kind of goal, no,” Penn said when asked if his aim was to bring in a high-profile Mexican star as the first major signing.

“We want to find foundational players that are gonna be with us for the formative years of a club. We’re gonna work with the key leaders in football operations that will be identified to make those key decisions.”

Additional investors in the team include the Zephyr Partners’ Brad Termini and the Right to Dream’s Tom Vernon and Dan Dickinson.

The Right to Dream, which is controlled by Mansour’s London-based Man Capital firm, is a Ghana-based academy that also owns the Danish top flight’s FC Nordsjaelland and Egyptian lower league side Tutankhamun Football Club.

Currently running academies in Ghana, Denmark and Egypt, The Right to Dream will expand to California through an academy that will be housed within San Diego FC’s yet-to-be-built training facility in El Cajon, San Diego County, that will break ground in November.

Vernon told ESPN in June that the San Diego academy will be a “best in class facility in the United States,” with plans to have the highest operating cost of any academy system in MLS.


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