AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Major League Soccer is widening its footprint in Southern California.
The league announced Thursday it’s placing an expansion franchise in San Diego, bringing the number of teams in MLS to 30.
“We are thrilled to welcome San Diego to Major League Soccer as our 30th team,” Commissioner Don Garber said. “For many years we have believed San Diego would be a terrific MLS market due to its youthful energy, great diversity, and the fact that soccer is an essential part of everyday life for so many people. Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Tribe have an incredible vision for building a club that will inspire and unite soccer fans throughout the city and region.”
Sportico’s Eben Novy-Williams reported Tuesday that MLS had reached a $500 million deal to finalize the plans.
San Diego Padres star Manny Machado is among those in the club’s ownership group, which adds to his deepening ties to the city.
In February, Machado signed an 11-year, $350 million extension with the Padres that could theoretically keep him with the franchise for the remainder of his MLB career.
“We built a lot of relationships here that we didn’t want to tear up,” he said in March, per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli. “And I’m glad, so glad, to call this our home.”
The MLS expansion franchise will be the second major professional soccer team in San Diego.
San Diego Wave FC celebrated their inaugural season in the NWSL in 2022. They reached the semifinals of the NWSL playoffs and were immediately a massive draw. The Wave set a league attendance record when they had 32,000 fans watch them earn a 1-0 victory over Angel City FC last September.
The Wave are proving San Diego is a strong soccer market, but Thursday’s announcement is years in the making.
The city was laying the groundwork for an MLS franchise not long after the Los Angeles Chargers left town in 2017. Snapdragon Stadium, which opened in August 2022, was built for San Diego State football games along with the hope it could be a pro soccer venue.
As expected, Snapdragon Stadium will be the home for San Diego’s MLS club when it begins play in 2025.