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The Landon Donovan-helmed San Diego Loyal SC announced Wednesday that it has signed its first local academy prospect to a professional contract.

The Loyal signed 15-year-old goalkeeper and San Diegan Duran Ferree, pending league and federation approval, making him the first local product to move through the team’s development pathway to the first team for the USL Championship side.

The 4S Ranch native was a standout player at San Diego Surf Soccer Club before joining the inaugural Loyal Select program on April 22, 2021. That program was announced on Jan. 8, 2021.

After a season with Loyal Select, Ferree signed a USL Academy contract on Jan. 28, ahead of the 2022 USL Championship season. He has since trained daily with the first team and saw his first inclusion in the SD Loyal 18-man roster on April 30 at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

SD Loyal Team Manager Donovan said he has seen first-hand Ferree’s accelerated progression.

“Since we established the Loyal Select program and have now signed seven youth players to USL Academy contracts, our objective has remained unchanged — our goal has always been to provide a platform for our region’s top youth players to maximize their development and reach their highest potential to ultimately one day play for SD Loyal,” Donovan said. “Duran is the first of many talented players that our club will continue to develop and sign to a professional contract.”

Details of the contract were not immediately available.

The Loyal Select academy program — supported by Rady Children’s Hospital — gives youth players representing regions and clubs all around San Diego County the opportunity to train and compete in a professional environment and provides a path to the SD Loyal first team. While remaining with their respective youth clubs for training and matches, Loyal Select players get an opportunity to compete in a full USL Academy League season, facing elite talent from across the country.

“San Diego has never before had a professional pathway for its elite youth soccer players,” SD Loyal President Ricardo Campos said. “The dedication from our coaching staff, led by Landon Donovan to develop the next generation of local talent is unmatched.

At Loyal Select, Ferree posted two clean sheets in 2021 and has so far allowed zero goals in six starts in 2022. For the 2021-22 youth soccer season, Ferree was selected as the ECNL Boys Southwest Conference U16 Player of the Year as well as an All-Conference First Team selection.

“This has been an incredible journey for me and my family,” Ferree said. “It’s a dream come true to be able to play professional soccer for my hometown club and it’s an honor to represent San Diego Loyal. From the club to the staff, SD Loyal is the right place for me to continue developing into the best player I can be.”

The Loyal play its next home game Saturday against Phoenix Rising FC at 7 p.m. at University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium.

–City News Service