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San Jose Hawks

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San Jose Hawks

San Francisco Bay Blackhawks was a professional soccer team which came into existence in 1989 as a team in the Western Soccer League (WSL). The Blackhawks spent time in the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) and the United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL). In 1993, the team competed in USISL as the San Jose Hawks, but left organized competition at the end of the season.


Based on the west coast of the United States, the [1] Van Voorhis named his new team, which competed in the newly renamed Western Soccer League’s North Division, the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks.

Western Soccer League

In 1989, the Blackhawks immediately put their stamp on the league as one of the top teams. It ran to a 11-5 record and 98 points, second only to the San Diego Nomads 12-4 record and 99 points. In the playoffs, the Blackhawks downed the Los Angeles Heat in penalty kicks before losing 1-0 to the Nomads in the final game.

American Professional Soccer League

At the end of the 1989 season, the WSL merged with the east coast-based [2]


In 1991, the APSL experienced a rapid contraction as most team owners realized they had jumped too quickly into a national league. Only three of the eleven 1990 WSL teams began the 1991 season, and the Salt Lake Sting folded before the season ended. However, the Blackhawks continued their strong play, finishing with a 17-4 record, the second best in the league. In the playoffs, the Blackhawks defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the semifinals, then won their first and only championship with a victory over the Albany Capitals.

1992 CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinalist

The Blackhawks gained even greater honors when it entered the 1992 CONCACAF Champions Cup due to its 1991 APSL title. The Blackhawks were placed in Group 2 of the Cup’s North/Central Zone. On May 27 and 29, 1992, the Blackhawks hosted the Eurokickers of Panama. The Blackhawks took the two game series 11-0. In the second round on April 18 and May 3, the Blackhawks dismantled La Victoria of Belize, on a 5-2 aggregate score. In the third round on June 14 and 16, the Blackhawks crushed Real España of Honduras 6-0 on aggregate. With a bye in the fourth round when the Vancouver 86ers withdrew from the competition, the Blackhawks found themselves in their zone championship series. Here the Blackhawks run came to an end as Mexican Club América won 4-3 on aggregate. Mexican great Hugo Sánchez scored three of América’s goals.

While the Blackhawks outran the CONCACAF competition it did not see similar domestic success. In 1992, the APSL was down to five teams from the eight that had finished the 1991 season. The Blackhawks were also beginning to fade, finishing the season in third place with only an even record of 8-8. While they made the playoffs, they lost to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the first round. Van Voorhis elected to withdraw from the APSL as his team was bleeding money and enter the team in the lower level United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL).

USISL: San Jose Hawks

In 1993, the Blackhawks found themselves both in a new league and with a new name. USISL had placed the team in the Pacific Division which was loaded with local San Francisco teams, including the San Francisco United All Blacks, San Francisco Bay Diablos, North Bay Breakers and East Bay Red Riders. The name change, to the San Jose Hawks, allowed them to differentiate themselves from the competition. Regardless of the name, the Hawks quickly rose to divisional domination, running to a 14-2 record and 119 points, second in the league. In the divisional semi-finals, the Hawks crushed the Chico Rooks 6-0, then easily handled the All Blacks 3-0. In the USISL, the divisional champions then entered what was called the Sizzling Six Championship. The six teams played two games in order to determine who would go to the championship game. While this reduced travel cost, it left a lot to be desired as the Hawks continued to crush their competition, defeating the East Los Angeles Cobras 4-1, and the Dallas Americans 4-1. Despite these two victories, the Hawks did not make the championship game, losing out to the Greensboro Dynamo and Orlando Lions on goal differential.

At the end of the 1993 season, Van Voorhis folded the team after losing money in a soccer related lawsuit.

Shortly after having successfully landed a San José Major League Soccer franchise in 1994 and handing over all existing Hawks player contracts, front-office resources and the rights to play in Spartan Stadium to MLS in exchange for Type C stock in the league, financial difficulties stemming from a messy divorce forced Van Voorhis to accept a buyout from the league, leaving the franchise (subsequently named the San Jose Clash) league-owned for several years.


Year Name League Record Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup
1989 San Francisco Bay Blackhawks WSL 11-5 1st Northern Division Final Did not enter
1990 San Francisco Bay Blackhawks APSL 13-7 1st WSL Conference Final Did not enter
1991 San Francisco Bay Blackhawks APSL 17-4 2d Western Conference Champions Did not enter
1992 San Francisco Bay Blackhawks APSL 8-8 3rd Semifinals Did not enter
1993 San Jose Hawks USISL 14-2 1st Pacific Division Sizzling Six Did not enter


APSL Champions

  • 1991

CONCACAF Champions' Cup Semifinals

  • 1992

Rookie of the Year

First Team All Star

Second Team All Star

WSL Top Goalscorer

Notable players

Head coaches


  • Dan Van Voorhis


While the Blackhawks are best known for playing in Spartan Stadium, they spent most of 1991 in Newark Memorial Stadium. The team also played in games in Buck Shaw Stadium and Fremont Stadium.

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