San Diego Zest FC

San Diego Zest FC is an American soccer team in San Diego, California, United States. The club was founded in 2016 and is owned and operated by San Diego Sports Authority, a Japanese-owned sports management company. They compete as LA Galaxy SD Zest in USL League Two and play their home matches at James Madison High School's George Hoagland Stadium. The team colors are Orange and Navy.

San Diego Zest FC
Full nameSan Diego Zest FC
Founded2016 (2016)
OwnersSan Diego Sports Authority
Head Coach Jaewoo Kim
LeagueUSL League Two
20197th, Southwest Division
Playoffs: DNQ
WebsiteClub website


The San Diego Zest FC was established in 2016 by a sports management company called San Diego Sports Authority, hereafter SDSA, located at San Diego, CA. The project was started in 2014 with aim of developing the local community soccer level and providing Japanese soccer players the path to pro in the U.S. On January 21, 2016, the USL PDL announced that it had awarded the franchise to San Diego Zest FC, starting with the 2016 season.[2] "San Diego has for a long time been a target city for the USL PDL, we are very excited the outstanding leadership of the San Diego Sports Authority will be the group that brings the league to a great soccer city, and are looking forward to working with the club for many years to come.” said league director Todd Eason.

2016: Inaugural Season

  • San Diego Zest FC had a very successful inaugural season campaign. They finished with an 8-1-5 record, which resulted in a 2nd-place finish in the Southwestern Division and clinching a berth into the USL PDL playoffs. They lost in a very close match to FC Golden State Force 2–3 in overtime.
  • Zest FC was led by its two stars, UCLA's DF/MF Erik Holt, and Chico State's FW Matthew Hurlow-Paonessa. Holt was named to PDL's All-Western Conference team, scoring 2 goals and playing very well in the playoffs.[3] Hurlow-Paonessa was a scoring phenomenon for Zest FC, scoring 9 goals and contributing an assist during his campaign.
  • Hurlow-Paonessa became the first player to sign with a professional soccer club in San Diego Zest FC's history, agreeing to his first professional contract with Phoenix Rising FC.[4]

2017: Second Season

  • On February 22, 2017, San Diego Zest FC officially clinched a berth for the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as a result from their very successful inaugural season. They lost to LA Wolves FC in the opening round 2-4 in their U.S. Open Cup debut. Zest FC was not able to carry its high performance from its inaugural season, finishing with a 3-9-2 record in its 2nd season.

Introduced Women's Team To Compete in 2018

  • On May 22, 2017, San Diego Zest FC announced the founding of an all woman's team to compete in the Women's Premier Soccer League, WPSL, starting in the 2018 season. The sister club of the San Diego Zest will hope to emulate the same success their founding team who are competing in their second season as members of the USL PDL.

New Ownership of Montenegrin Third Division Club FK Adria

  • On October 4, San Diego Zest FC announced its new ownership of Montenegro soccer club, FK Adria, launched and started competing in the Montenegrin Third League in the 2017–2018 season. FK Adria, named after the Adriatic Sea, has a mission to groom people to be successful individuals, even after their playing careers have ended, at the international level by implementing a vision that includes what the team calls "character-building through soccer.

Partnership with Los Angeles Galaxy San Diego

  • San Diego Zest FC announced a new partnership with Los Angeles Galaxy San Diego on November 17th. Zest FC and LA Galaxy San Diego are committed to benefiting each other through cooperation and developing good sportsmanship within the athletes while promoting enthusiasm within the community locally, nationally, and internationally through soccer.

U.S. Pro Soccer Combine in Japan

2018: Third Season

Zest FC Women Announces New Affiliation with Japan's First Division Club AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies

  • San Diego Zest FC has announced that its women’s team, San Diego Zest FC Women, which will be competing its inaugural season in Women’s Premier Soccer League this summer, has affiliated with Japanese club AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies, which currently competes in Japan’s women’s first division. AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies was established in 2000. The team is owned by AC Nagano Parceiro, which competes in Japan’s Men’s third division, J3 League. Former Parceiro Ladies player, Kumi Yokohama, has been selected for Japan’s national team squad since 2015 and currently plays for FFC Frankfurt, which competes in the first division of Women’s Bundesliga.


Year Division League Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup
2016 4 USL PDL 2nd, Southwest Divisional Playoff Did not enter
2017 4 USL PDL 7th, Southwest Did not qualify First round
2018 4 USL PDL 8th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not qualify
2019 4 USL League Two 7th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not qualify

Head Coaches

  • Cem Tont (2016–2017) [5]
  • Jaewoo Kim (2018–present)

Coaching Staff

Role Name Nation
Head Coach Jaewoo Kim  South Korea
Assistant Coach Jake Rowley  United Kingdom
Assistant Coach Dong Rack Kim  South Korea


As of May 3, 2019[6][7][8][9]
Where a player has not declared an international allegiance, nation is determined by place of birth. Squad correct as of May 3, 2019.

No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Rodrigo Sarmiento  United States
2 Defender Jamie Pick  United States
3 Defender Abdoulaye Cissoko  France
4 Defender Kelee Cornfield-Saunders  United States
5 Defender Tosh Samkange  United States
6 Midfielder Sam Turner  United States
8 Midfielder Brandon Santel  United States
9 Forward Vardhin Manoj  United States
11 Forward Sungyong Jung  South Korea
12 Defender Joe Daluz  United States
13 Midfielder Andy Sartor  United States
14 Midfielder Lee SeongYong  South Korea
15 Forward Kazuma Suzuki  Japan
16 Defender Griffin Mallas  United States
17 Midfielder Erick Gonzalez  United States
18 Midfielder Hanif Wright  United States
19 Defender Santiago Majewski  United States
20 Midfielder Shizu Yohena  Japan
21 Midfielder Nicolas Briere  France
22 Midfielder Landen Carlson  United States
23 Defender Christopher Brusenback  United States

Notable Former Players

This list of notable former players comprises players who went on to play professional soccer after playing for the team in the Premier Development League, or those who previously played professionally before joining the team.

Average Attendance

  • 2016: 365
  • 2017: 293
  • 2018: 121
  • 2019: TBD


  2. "PDL Awards Franchise to San Diego". Premier Development League (PDL). January 21, 2016. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  3. Staff, PDL (2016-07-29). "2016 PDL All-Western Conference Team". USL PDL. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  4. Communications, Phoenix Rising FC (2016-12-16). "Phoenix Rising FC Bolster Attack With Signing of Matthew Hurlow-Paonessa". Phoenix Rising FC | Arizona's Highest Level Professional Soccer Team. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  5. San Diego Zest Coaching Staff Archived 2016-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  7. FC Tucson Completes Preseason Singings
  8. FC Tucson Signs Six More Players
  9. Preseason Invitees Signed to Roster
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