What the USA vs Serbia Friendly Means for MLS in San Diego
The recent move by the San Diego Chargers to the city of Los Angeles has sprouted a growing interest in soccer in the city of San Diego.
Many questions have arisen whether San Diego can be an MLS city and if there will be enough support for the team.
Well, the international-friendly match between the United States Men’s National team and the Serbia Men’s National team on Sunday, January 29 basically cleared those concerns. A stunning 20,079 fans filled Qualcomm stadium for this match which was essentially meaningless. Now imagine if this had been a match of competitive nature.
The match overall was unimpressive with a 0-0 draw being the end result. The fans, however, never lost interest in the game, booing after every foul or offside call against their team and cheering for any substitution or positive thing the USMNT players did. There were also several fans present hours before the game started. They were tailgating, grilling, and even playing soccer in Qualcomm Stadium’s parking lot. It was a great sight to see.
There were several interesting comments regarding Qualcomm Stadium, the fans, and the possibility of an MLS team in San Diego after the match ended. Among the most interesting were the comments from Serbian National team Head Coach, Slavoljub Muslin, who said, ” It was a great experience for our players to play in a nice stadium, despite of its age, especially for the players around 20,000 spectators, in a very nice environment”.
USMNT fullback, Jorge Villafana, commented on the possibility of an MLS team in San Diego. Jorge said, ” Yeah I think it would be really good, it’s a great city. I think it would be a great place for an MLS team”. “I think it would be a great market for an MLS team.
To give people who have been to a Tijuana Xolos game an idea of what an MLS game atmosphere is like, I asked Jorge if the atmosphere of an MLS game compares to that of a Liga MX game. Jorge said, ” The MLS, well you see is growing a lot, you see games in Portland or Seattle, those big teams, they put big crowds. It is a great atmosphere. Back in Mexico, the only thing in Mexico you can see it’s an old league”. In five years, the MLS will be a very good and competitive league”.
Finally, I also asked Jorge about the fans at Qualcomm on Sunday “Yeah it was very good, there were 20,000 fans in the stands, they showed up, it was a really good crowd and you heard them supporting us since minute one to 90th”.
Clearly San Diego sports fans need something to fill the void since the Chargers left us. All indications are pointing towards soccer as the answer. This friendly match between the USA vs Serbia only made that choice more clear.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.
Exciting times for the future of professional sports in San Diego. The MLS expansion, if approved, could show the world that San Diego can indeed get things done and vindicate a fan base in their darkest hours. Nice piece Francisco!