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NASL announces expansion franchise in San Diego

SAN DIEGO — The North American Soccer League officially announced Monday that an expansion franchise will begin play in San Diego next year and build a privately financed North County stadium.

The franchise — owned by soccer stars Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow — will play at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium until the new facility is completed. Team officials said they’re scouting potential locations.

“One of our goals is to sign players who have a strong passion for the game, who are competitive and love to win,” said Ba, who plays in China and represents Senegal in international events.

“All my life as a football player, I lived with competition and competition is going to be good for us and for San Diego,” he said. “I look forward to competing against our fellow California clubs and the rest of the NASL, as well as MLS clubs in the U.S. Open Cup. It is going to be up to us to be the best.”

The NASL includes eight franchises that play between April and November. It’s a notch below Major League Soccer, which is also considering San Diego for an expansion franchise.

Teams are currently based in Edmonton, Canada; Indianapolis; Jacksonville; Miami; New York; Cary, North Carolina; Bayamon, Puerto Rico; and San Francisco. Another expansion franchise in Fullerton is expected to join next season.