On January 17, the San Diego Loyal announced the signing of 28-year-old prolific Northern Irish striker Kyle Vassell from English League One side Cheltenham Town FC, pending league and federation approval.
Vassell scored four goals in his last 22 appearances for his former club, with two coming in his 16 league appearances and the other two coming in back-to-back English Football League Cup appearances as a substitute.
Vassell began his career as a youth player at current premier league sides, Norwich City and Brentford. Still, after struggling to find first-team football at a competitive Brentford side, he was forced to find playing time on several other teams playing non-league football in the lower tiers of English football.
After a couple of years of non-league football, Vassell finally got his call up to play in the English Football League (consisting of the EFL Championship, EFL League One, and EFL League Two) with Peterborough United, who at the time was in the EFL League One.
In 2016, after a collection of loan spells away from Peterborough United, Vassell then signed for Blackpool of the EFL League Two, where he would score the majority of his professional goals, managing to find the back of the net 24 times in 71 appearances.
Every defender in the league just said a bad word. This is what Kyle Vassell has in his locker! 😤 pic.twitter.com/zRwAa6kWU3
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) January 17, 2022
After his two-year stint with Blackpool, Vassell signed a three-year deal with Championship side Rotherham United in July of 2018, where he would then see out his contract until 2021. Vassell then signed a one-year deal with Cheltenham Town FC, which was cut short after signing for the San Diego Loyal midway through his contract on Monday, January 17.
The signing shouldn’t come as a surprise to Loyal fans as it was reported that Vassell had spent some time training with the Loyal last year, and it seems as if he has left a strong, lasting impression on Landon Donovan and his coaching staff.
“We were fortunate to have Kyle train with us last summer, and it was immediately clear that he is the type of player that could take us to the next level and help us win a championship,” said Landon Donovan EVP of Soccer Operations and Manager.
Vassell also brings a small portion of international experience to San Deigo after receiving a call-up to play for Northern Ireland in 2018. He made two appearances for their Nations League matches away to Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Vassell will join the list of current strikers for the Loyal consisting of Evan Conway and Nick Moon on a team looking to make more positive strides after a successful first two seasons where they have seen plenty of progression in each.
He’s a powerful striker with a real knack for finding the back of the net, and Loyal fans will hope he can start the season firing as the Loyal begin the 2022 USL Championship regular season Saturday, March 12, against LA Galaxy II at Torero Stadium.