Warren Smith is looking forward to introducing the city to the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club, the newest member of USL Championship.
The inaugural match is Saturday, March 7, against the Las Vegas Lights FC, and the schedule features the Loyal taking on Rio Grande Valley FC on March 14 and Liga MX’s Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente (Xolos) on March 28.
“I’m thrilled in a whole bunch of ways,” says Smith, the co-founder and president.
“The staff we have is very talented. They’re experienced in pro sports. I’m excited about the opportunity, but also I see it as a big responsibility. The community’s been through a lot as it relates to sports. We have a really unique opportunity to bring the community together and celebrate this great region.”
Launched on June 19, 2019, San Diego Loyal will be headed by coach Landon Donovan, football royalty, who is considered one of U.S. men’s soccer’s greatest players. Donovan also serves as executive vice president of soccer operations.
“I’m looking forward to Landon’s team,” he says.
The club is led by Chairman Andrew Vassiliadis, who is the youngest principal owner in USL Championship.
San Diego Loyal is built on four core pillars—independent, authentic, inclusive and optimistic.
Smith’s commitment is strong, as he signed a three-year letter of commitment to play at Torero Stadium.
“I see it as one of the best sporting opportunities in the country and maybe even the world. I fell in love with the sport a while ago. I played one game of soccer in my life and broke my leg in the first minute,” Smith says.
“There are a lot of people who play the sport. There are more than 100,000 in the U.S. Soccer Federation—that’s not to mention all the leagues who don’t register with the USF. We think it’s about 125,000 people who play the sport. We have one of the biggest populations of soccer playing in the country.”
Smith is open to listening to fans as well.
“I want to get input from the fans on what they want to see out of us—what type of team, what they want us to do in the community, etc.,” he says. “We made a commitment. People ask, ‘Why the name the Loyal?’ The name ‘Loyal’ came from our fans in the listening sessions. They’re loyal to something and the team is loyal to them. We’re very excited.”
A cofounder of Sacramento Republic FC, Smith helped ink a multiyear partnership with Adidas. In addition to being the official supplier for the gameday uniform, Adidas will outfit the players and coaching staff for training and travel.
“We’re thrilled to wear the three stripes and to connect with the global leader in soccer,” Smith says. “It’s a true honor to have Adidas represent our look and feel in our merchandise and kits, and we look forward to a strong and long partnership.”
The Loyal revealed a three-game package for the 2020 season for $75. The program includes a ticket to March 7, March 14 and March 28 matches. Single-game tickets start at $20.
“We’re excited to offer the SD Loyal three pack so fans can be a part of the high-level competition on the field and the experience in the stands during our first games in San Diego,” says Casey Patterson, vice president of ticket sales. “We are also thrilled to welcome the Xolos, as we know they are beloved throughout the region, and we look forward to a long partnership with the club.”
San Diego Loyal, sdloyal.com, 858.465.GOAL