SAN DIEGO – Add another star athlete to the Major League Soccer decision-makers list.
San Diego, announced Thursday as the league’s 30th team, counts six-time Major League Baseball All-Star and San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado among its ownership group.
Machado was in attendance at the unveiling event at Snapdragon Stadium, where the to-be-named club will play starting in the 2025 season. The 35,000-seat venue on San Diego State University's campus is already home to the NWSL's San Diego Wave.
“It means so much to me, to my family to continue to plant roots in this community that we've been doing for the last couple years,” said Machado.
San Diego’s project is steered by co-owners Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. Mansour is a businessman from Egypt, while the Sycuans are the first Native American tribe to have an ownership stake in professional soccer in the United States.
An additional highlight is how Right to Dream, the globally renowned youth development program, is leading San Diego’s academy. That aspect, driven by founding partner Tom Vernon, resonated deeply with Machado.
“What really attracted me to this organization was the commitment and the experience of developing young athletes personally and academically, and obviously athletically through the Right to Dream foundation,” said Machado.
“It's something that as a baseball player, it's not only about playing the sport but academically and personally there's a lot more to life than just a sport. But growing through the sport leads you to the right direction and can lead you to bigger things in life.”
Machado, hailing Thursday as a “great moment for San Diego,” joined the Padres in 2019 as part of a then-record-breaking contract. Ever since, he’s set about giving back to a community that’s shown him a long-term commitment.
The self-described FC Barcelona fan, who joked he’s been doing his soccer homework, is bullish on what awaits MLS’s newest team. They'll launch one year before the North America 2026 World Cup arrives.
“Soccer is going to continue to grow and for the city of San Diego, this is huge, bringing an MLS team here to a city that’s been thriving over the past couple of years,” Machado said. “Now, to bring an MLS team here, it’s just going to grow more.”
Athletes in MLS ownership (active)
This list is a selection and not all-inclusive.
- D.C. United - Mark Ingram (NFL running back)
- Houston Dynamo FC - James Harden (Philadelphia 76ers guard)
- Nashville SC - Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans running back)
- Nashville SC - Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks forward)
- Philadelphia Union - Kevin Durant (Phoenix Suns forward)
- Seattle Sounders FC - Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos quarterback)
- Sporting Kansas City - Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback)