San Diego is officially the newest team in MLS and as they prepare to make their professional debut in 2025, the franchise is rumored to have contacted the best Concacaf player of all time to manage their squad.
Hugo Sánchez, San Diego’s first-ever coach?
After splashing a whopping and record-breaking $500 million on the MLS expansion fee, "America’s Finest City" is reportedly looking to bring Mexico’s pentapichichi to lead the team during their expansion season.
According to Mexican journalist David Faitelson, San Diego has offered Hugo Sánchez the managerial keys to their club.
“I have information that the new soccer club of MLS in San Diego, that will start to play in 2025, plans to offer the managerial position to Hugo Sánchez,” said Faitelson on Twitter.
Tengo información de que el nuevo club de futbol de la MLS en San Diego, que comenzará a jugar en el 2025, planea ofrecerle la dirección técnica a Hugo Sánchez…— David Faitelson (@Faitelson_ESPN) May 24, 2023
Hugo Sánchez is a free agent and frequently appears as a pundit on ESPN México’s soccer talk show Fútbol Picante — a show that's often hosted by David Faitelson.
Saludos afectuosos a todos. @futpicante @ESPNmx @ESPNFC pic.twitter.com/A1ocDfzS3N— Hugo Sánchez (@hugosanchez_9) May 20, 2021
San Diego would become Sánchez’s first managerial job since 2012 when he coached Liga MX’s Pachuca. He coached the club for the Apertura 2012 and Clausura 2013 but was sacked after only 24 games.
Sánchez coached the Mexico national team between 2007 and 2009 where he lead El Tri to a third-placed finish in the Copa America. Most notably, he coached Liga MX’s Pumas UNAM to the only back-to-back championships in club history (Clausura and Apertura 2004). The legendary goalscorer also managed Pumas’ pre-season Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu win over Real Madrid in 2004 — the last Galáctico defeat in this competition.
Hugo Sánchez and San Diego, a connection forged since 1980
Hugo Sánchez and San Diego, an odd connection? Not if you remember watching the Mexican No. 9 scoring on the pitches of the extinct NASL.
After debuting for Pumas in 1976 and playing for the club for three years, as part of a negotiation and player exchange loan deal between the Universitarios and the San Diego Sockers, Sánchez was sent to play for the San Diegans during the NASL summer seasons of 1979 and 1980.
Hugo Sanchez with the San Diego Sockers back in 1979, when they played in the NASL pic.twitter.com/xYYm2rRmzv— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) May 25, 2023
The Mexican’s performances in the border city, as with practically every other club he played for in his career, did not disappoint. After playing a total of 32 games in two separate seasons, the striker managed to score a whopping 26 goals (13 in 13 playoff games).
Hugol’s loan deal with the Sockers ended in 1980 and after returning to Pumas for one full season, the Mexican earned a move to Átletico Madrid in 1981. According to Sánchez, his move was, in part, thanks to the exposure he earned as a NASL player in the United States.
“San Diego was an opportunity to springboard my career to Europe because the big names like Pelé and [Franz] Beckenbauer were playing in the NASL. The eyes of Europe were looking here because of the big names that were playing here,” said Sánchez in early 2023.
Now, over four decades since Sánchez’s departure and the Sockers’ farewell from the NASL, El Macho might have an opportunity to give back to the city that helped springboard his career to the next level by leading them in their long-awaited re-introduction to the country’s highest level of soccer.
Gol de Hugo Sanchez con el San Diego Soccer en 1980 pic.twitter.com/ng0x4AmSgP— solo de futbol (@richardmeza1970) April 3, 2020