Carlos Alvarez of the San Diego Loyal player (left) jumps up to block an attempted goal.
Carlos Alvarez of the San Diego Loyal (left) jumps to block an attempted goal. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Loyal SC resumes their inaugural season Saturday by facing Real Monarchs SLC in Sandy, Utah.

The game marks a milestone too, as the first professional fan-attended team event played in the U.S. since March.

The 1 p.m. game airs on CW San Diego and the Spanish-language cable network ESPN Deportes. 

Officials called for fans at the game at Rio Tinto Stadium to wear masks at all times. They may remove them when eating at their seats.

They’ll also downsize the venue. Fans can fill 5,300 seats, down from the usual capacity of 20,700 to allow for social distancing.

State and local health authorities approved the plan. It includes disinfecting seats and surfaces before the game and adding sanitizer dispensers throughout the stadium. Six-foot markers placed on the grounds and concourse will direct fans to stay apart.

SD Loyal also will wear Black Lives Matter alternate jerseys to continue to raise awareness around inclusivity and diversity.

“Loyal is more than just our name – it’s our mantra,” team President Warren Smith said. He added that it’s time to “stand together in the fight against racism and put an end to the violence fueled by hatred against our Black community.”

At the end of the season, the team plans to auction the player-worn jerseys, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Association of African American Educators of San Diego. The group advocates for equity in educational opportunities and outcomes for Black students and staff.

“We will not be silent about racial injustice and encourage our fans and community to join us in taking a stand,” said Landon Donovan, the retired U.S. men’s national team star.

Donovan serves as the Loyal’s first-team manager and executive vice president of soccer operations.

SD Loyal was 1-0-1 and Real Monarchs SLC 0-1-0 when the Division II men’s soccer league suspended play because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We couldn’t be more excited to finally step on the field again and play,” Donovan said. “Our players have worked incredibly hard for this moment and we couldn’t ask for a better first opponent than the defending USL champs.”

– City News Service