Legacy of San Francisco Bay Blackhawks in U.S. Soccer


The San Francisco Bay Blackhawks, a pioneering soccer team in the late 1980s and early 1990s, played a significant role in shaping the landscape of American soccer. The team’s brief but impactful existence laid the groundwork for the future of professional soccer in the Bay Area and beyond.

Key Points

  • The Blackhawks were a trailblazing team that helped establish soccer’s presence in the Bay Area
  • The team featured several notable players who contributed to the growth of soccer in the United States
  • The Blackhawks’ legacy continues to influence the Bay Area soccer community today

The Inception and Rise of the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks

The San Francisco Bay Blackhawks were founded in 1989 by Dan Van Voorhis, a visionary owner who sought to create a top-tier professional soccer team in the Bay Area. The team began its journey in the Western Soccer League (WSL) before transitioning to the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) in 1990.

Home Grounds and Their Significance

The Blackhawks initially played their home games at Spartan Stadium, which served as a crucial venue during the team’s formative years. The team later moved to Newark Memorial Stadium, a move that helped solidify their presence in the East Bay.

Memorable Competitions and Achievements

One of the Blackhawks’ most notable achievements was their participation in the 1992 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. The team faced off against the legendary Mexican side Club America in a two-leg series at the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Despite the challenges posed by the high altitude and hostile crowd, the Blackhawks put up a valiant fight against their formidable opponents.

Star Players and Their Legacies

The San Francisco Bay Blackhawks roster featured several prominent American players who left a lasting impact on the sport. Eric Wynalda, one of the most prolific goal scorers in U.S. soccer history, played for the Blackhawks and contributed significantly to the team’s success. Other notable players included Marcelo Balboa, John Doyle, Dominic Kinnear, Troy Dayak, and Paul Bravo, many of whom went on to have successful careers as coaches and managers.

The Evolution of Bay Area Soccer

The Blackhawks played a crucial role in the development of soccer in the Bay Area. After the team’s dissolution, the San Jose Hawks emerged as their spiritual successors in the United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL). The Hawks’ existence, along with the Blackhawks’ legacy, helped lay the foundation for the creation of the San Jose Earthquakes and the dawn of the MLS era in the region.

The Cultural Impact of Soccer in California

The presence of the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks helped fuel the growth of youth and amateur soccer in California. The team’s influence extended beyond the pitch, as they inspired a new generation of players and fans alike. The Blackhawks’ story is just one chapter in the rich history of defunct soccer clubs in California that have left an indelible mark on their communities.

The End of an Era and Its Aftermath

The San Francisco Bay Blackhawks’ journey came to an end in 1993, but their impact on the soccer landscape in San Jose and California endures. The team’s dissolution paved the way for new clubs to emerge and carry the torch of professional soccer in the region.


What was the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks’ most notable achievement in international competition?

The Blackhawks’ participation in the 1992 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, where they faced off against Club America at Estadio Azteca, stands out as one of their most memorable international achievements.

Who were some of the most famous players to have played for the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks?

Notable players who donned the Blackhawks jersey include Eric Wynalda, Marcelo Balboa, John Doyle, Dominic Kinnear, Troy Dayak, and Paul Bravo.

How did the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks influence the formation of the San Jose Earthquakes?

The Blackhawks’ legacy, along with the subsequent emergence of the San Jose Hawks, helped lay the groundwork for the creation of the San Jose Earthquakes and the start of the MLS era in the Bay Area.

What happened to the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks, and why did the team fold?

The San Francisco Bay Blackhawks disbanded in 1993 after a brief but impactful existence in the WSL, APSL, and USISL.

How does the legacy of the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks live on in California soccer today?

The Blackhawks’ influence can still be felt in the growth of youth and amateur soccer in California, as well as in the continued success of professional teams like the San Jose Earthquakes.


About the author

Liz Wegerer is a respected writer and content strategist with decades of experience, establishing herself as an authority in travel writing, particularly about San Francisco. Her editorial skills have been honed through diverse roles, such as being the editor-in-chief of a digital magazine in London and a lead journalist for an international competition in the Caribbean. This broad expertise allows her to craft compelling stories that highlight San Francisco’s iconic sights, diverse neighborhoods, and cultural vibrancy.