While Las Vegas remains a strong contender, so does San Diego.
Garber provided the update during his annual State of the League address, speaking about 120 miles north of the California border town as LAFC and the Philadelphia Union get ready to play the 2022 MLS Cup Final on Saturday at Banc of California Stadium (4 p.m. ET | FOX, Univision in the US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada).
“I’m a huge San Diego fan,” Garber said. “…I think there’s a view of San Diego, it’s so beautiful there and people are surfing and hanging out at the beach and I don’t believe it. I think San Diego is a big sports market, it’s a gateway city.
Garber’s remarks come amid reports of interest in San Diego, with the potential team possibly playing at Snapdragon Stadium on the campus of San Diego State University.
San Diego has already been on MLS’s radar, with expansion conversations gaining momentum thanks to a November 2018 public vote that rejected the SoccerCity project. That group included Landon Donovan, for whom the league MVP award is named.
But amid restart talks, Garber is hoping for possibilities in the market.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a few steps forward, and we took a step back,” Garber said. “But I think it’s fantastic that they are where they are. Hopefully we will continue to make progress with the ownership group we are heading towards and we are optimistic.
San Diego is home to several professional soccer teams, with the San Diego wave of the NWSL having had a hugely successful 2022 expansion season, both on and off the field. Last September, the Wave broke the NWSL attendance record by welcoming 32,000 fans to Snapdragon Stadium for a game against Angel City FC.
The USL Championship, home of second division men’s teams, also includes San Diego Loyal SC. Led by Donovan, they’ve been in the playoffs two or three years since they kicked off in 2020.