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'Significant' soccer announcement Thursday teases MLS expansion in San Diego

Snapdragon Stadium configured for a San Diego Wave FC match Sep. 16, 2022.
Jacob Aere
Snapdragon Stadium configured for a San Diego Wave FC match Sep. 16, 2022.

It looks like Major League Soccer will be coming to San Diego, with the league announcing plans for a Thursday news conference for "a significant announcement about the future of soccer" in the city.

Mayor Todd Gloria will join MLS Commissioner Don Garber, British-Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour and Cody Martinez, chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, for the 10:45 a.m. Thursday announcement at Snapdragon Stadium, the MLS said.

According to published reports, Mansour — senior treasurer for the United Kingdom's Conservative Party — is set to back the team with $500 million in partnership with the Sycuan tribe.


Any such team could play in Snapdragon Stadium by 2025, a year before the United States will join Mexico and Canada in hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Dan Courtemanche, vice president of communications for the MLS, told City News Service he could not confirm or deny the announcement of a new club.

In the wake of MLS expansion rumors, the ownership of one of San Diego's existing professional soccer clubs — SD Loyal of the USL Championship League — put out a defiant statement last week saying the team isn't "going anywhere."

"Our unwavering commitment is to the vision of growing soccer in this city, and we want to make that abundantly clear," said Andrew Vassiliadis, chairman and owner of SD Loyal. "Landon Donovan, the entire San Diego Loyal team and I are dedicated to this mission, and we will continue to work tirelessly to achieve it. Our passion for soccer and for our community will never falter."

Donovan was previously head coach of the club, and was named executive vice president of soccer operations in December 2022. That same month, SD Loyal entered a goodwill partnership with Lincoln City F.C. of Lincolnshire, England.


The clubs will collaborate on "community initiatives, merchandise and storytelling content on their respective fanbases," a statement from the clubs read.

Donovan, who played in three World Cups and scored 57 goals across 157 international appearances for the United States men's national team, was named to the National Soccer Hall of Fame earlier this month.

The San Diego Wave, which joined the National Women's Soccer League in 2022, plays in Snapdragon Stadium and set a league single-game attendance record at 32,000 against Angel City FC last September.