America’s finest city meets the world’s finest sport in this special San Diego Loyal club edition of Glory.
From walking off the pitch and refusing to play in the face of homophobia – costing themselves a shot at the playoffs in the process – to creating San Diego’s first pathway to the professional male game, San Diego Loyal have left a lasting imprint on the game we all love.
Having played their first game one week before Covid locked us all down and coming to a close at the end of the 2023 season, Loyal’s history has not been an easy one. It has though been a fascinating one and stands as a shining example of the way to build a club which at its heart is a reflection and proud totem of that community.
For this edition, we were granted access all areas and the result is possibly our favourite edition yet. One which tells the incredible story of an incredible club, in a city, league and country witnessing an explosion of love for the game.
We speak exclusively to club co-founder and the man voted the USA’s greatest ever male player and Hall of Famer, Landon Donovan. The legends of American soccer don’t end there as we sat down with USWNT World Cup and Olympic Gold winner Shannon Mac Millan, to chat about 1999, making history and taking soccer out to the streets of San Diego.
Owner Andrew Vassiliadis – the youngest in the USL – explains how a DJ and music events producer, ends up owning his hometown club and reflects on the rollercoaster so far. President Ricardo Campos explains how the club has, from the very start, been a team effort built by a community, to be a reflection of that community. That is once we ticked off his early love of Formula 1 and compatriot Ayrton Senna.
On the playing front, midfield lynchpin Collin Martin – the first active top-flight footballer ever to come out as gay – opens up on his decision to choose love, over hate and the barriers he faced growing up.
Captain, leader and Londoner Charlie Adams details a nomadic career that has taken him across the globe but began with his dad ballooning a penalty in front of him and his brother. While hometown boys Alejandro Guido and Duran Ferree wax lyrical about the dream of representing their families, friends and communities.
Vitas Carosella paints a portrait of the club’s unique Torero Stadium home, perched on a hill overlooking the city, on a picturesque university campus.
We also delve deeper into the San Diego soccer scene, visiting beach soccer club North Beach Soccer and street futsal’s Bridge Barkada.
For those unfamiliar with the game in the USA, US sports journalist Michael LoRé provides a handy guide to soccer in the States, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the United Soccer League (USL).
Finally, there are the regular features for those planning a trip to Southern California including Where to stay, Where to eat and Where to drink.
Sadly, after our visit the club publicly announced that the 2023 season will be San Diego Loyal’s last, so this stands as a tribute to San Diego and San Diegans – and a celebration of a club which burned brightly but all too briefly.
Welcome to America’s finest city – Bienvenido a la mejor ciudad de Estados Unidos