San Diego 1904 FC, an original National Independent Soccer Association member, will return to the league for the 2021 spring season, NISA announced Wednesday.
The team did not play in the fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic’s impact on the team’s financial operations led to 1904 FC’s decision to suspend operations in the short term to maintain its viability in the long term, NISA said.
“We are really excited for 1904, their players, their fans and ourselves that they’ll be on the pitch competing for a trophy in the spring,” NISA commissioner John Prutch said in a statement. “Co-owners Demba Ba and Alex Gontran have created a club with a terrific vision and have developed a brand that is true to San Diego. It’s unfortunate that the pandemic forced them to sit this fall, but we all knew it wouldn’t keep them down for long.”
According to NISA, playing behind closed doors created a significant financial burden to the club, and it needed to spend resources wisely.
“We can’t wait to get back out there this spring to compete and continue the growth of the club; the passion is undeniable,” said Ba, who played for İstanbul Başakşehir in Turkey and for the Senegal national team. “We chose San Diego for a reason – the passion is undeniable. Nothing is worse for a player, fan or owner than not playing. We’re competitors, that’s why we play, and that’s also why we created this club just over three years ago.
“The obstacles remind me of the start of my playing career. But you just keep working and things start opening up. There’s a lot of great footballers, and the city is a football [soccer] city.”
While it is not competing this fall, the team is gearing up for the spring season by finding the best young local talent. Last season, San Diego 1904 was NISA’s youngest team with an average age of 22. The club also has a deep connection to the city as close to 70 percent of the players were from San Diego.
“This year has been hard for many clubs and organizations,” said Gontran, who is also the manager of the team. “I can’t wait to be back on the pitch and play for the city this spring. San Diego has so many talented players, and we can’t wait to add even more local footballers to the club.”