San Diego Loyal SC opens the season Saturday with a new coach and fresh faces – one who will be enjoying a homecoming.
The team promoted associate head coach Nate Miller to head coach in December after four years with the team.
Former head coach Landon Donovan has shifted his focus to the Loyal front office and his role as executive vice president of soccer operations.
Loyal President Ricardo Campos has said the club has “complete confidence” in Miller’s ability to lead the team.
San Diego faces Detroit City FC at 7 p.m. at Torero Stadium, and will be gone for the remainder of the month, visiting Phoenix and Sacramento, before another home game April 1, when they host Phoenix.
On the field, two weeks ago, Adrien Perez, 27, became the fourth offseason acquisition for SD Loyal, joining Elliot Collier, Joe Corona and Blake Bodily. The Loyal’s big departures? Leading scorers Kyle Vassell and Thomas Amang.
The club declined Vassell’s option last year and he signed with Kilmarnock of the Scottish Premiership league. Last week, the Orange County SC announced the signing of Amang.
In addition, defender Jack Metcalf retired.
Perez, an Ontario native, spent the last two seasons with Major League Soccer side D.C. United.
The striker played the first three matches of 2022 for D.C. United before suffering a foot injury that kept him out the rest of the season.
Perez joined D.C. United in January of 2021 after being selected in the 2020 MLS re-entry draft. He made 17 appearances, 10 of them starts, and recorded two assists.
Miller’s challenge? Building on the team’s 2022 accomplishments. The Loyal set record highs, including points (60), home wins (12) and goals scored (68). They also secured a second-straight playoff berth.
Some faces to watch, according to the USL? Young goalkeeper Duran Ferree, who “could be in line for more time this campaign,” and Corona, a Sweetwater High alum who “joins a midfield that looks on paper to be one of the deepest in the league.”
The prognosticators picked the Loyal to take third in the USL’s Western Conference, which would be a drop-off from last year’s second-place finish.
On the roster for 2023 are:
- Goalkeepers: Ferree, Koke Vegas
- Defenders: Ebenezer Ackon, Kyle Adams, Elijah Martin, Camden Riley, Jackson Simba, Grant Stoneman
- Midfielders: Bodily, Corona, Charlie Adams, Alejandro Guido, Morgan Hackworth, Collin Martin
- Forwards: Evan Conway, Nick Moon, Tumi Moshobane, Perez, Collier