A native San Diegan with a wealth of experience playing in Major League Soccer is the first player that USL Championship expansion side San Diego Loyal SC has signed.
The club announced Wednesday that it had agreed to a contract with fullback Sal Zizzo for the 2020 season. No terms of the deal were disclosed.
Zizzo, 32, had actually announced his retirement from professional soccer in May, but told the San Diego Union Tribune that it was “worth returning to the game” when Loyal SC head coach Landon Donovan called him.
“Playing professionally in my hometown is something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Zizzo said in a statement from the club.
Zizzo added on Twitter that he is “extremely excited to be a part of” Loyal SC, and he “can’t wait to get started.”
Born and raised in San Diego, Zizzo played his college soccer at UCLA and turned pro to sign a contract with Bundesliga side Hannover 96. Zizzo appeared in nine Bundesliga games during his time there, and also played in 45 games and scored eight goals with fourth-tier Hannover 96 II.
After four seasons in Germany, Zizzo came to MLS in 2010, signing with Chivas USA. He’d go on to play for the Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United FC. Known for his electric play along the wing and ability to hip in crosses, Zizzo notched 17 assists over his 168 games played in MLS and also scored four goals. Zizzo typically slotted in at right back, but has also played left back and further up the pitch as a winger.
Zizzo appeared in six MLS playoff matches – all with the Red Bulls – and helped the club capture the Supporters’ Shield in 2015. He was on the Atlanta United squad that won the MLS Cup in 2018, too.
Internationally, Zizzo was capped just once by the senior U.S. national team, but also starred for the U.S. U-20 side in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He started all five games in the competition, helping the U.S. reach the quarterfinals.
Loyal SC will begin play in the USL Championship on 2020 at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. In addition to Donovan, the club’s technical staff also includes former USWNT player Shannon MacMillan as an advisor, former Sacramento Republic FC coach Paul Buckle as an advisor, and Carrie Taylor – who is the first woman to be an assistant coach in this era of the USL Championship.