Not long after the February death of legendary University of San Francisco head men’s soccer coach Steve Negoesco, the board members of SF City FC began discussing ways to honor the man who put the Dons on the collegiate soccer map.
With multiple players, administrators and staffers who either played for or were associated with the USF soccer program, and having played on Negoesco Field in 2017, it was a natural conversation to have. Fifty-one percent of the club is owned by a non-profit representing the members of the club — largely season ticket holders — and the non-profit is run by an elected board. They approved a plan, on condition that the family agreed.
“I told them, ‘Without him blazing the trail, we might not even be here today,’” said SF City FC director of operations Mike Gonos.
When SF City FC opens its home schedule on May 5 at 6 p.m. at Kezar Stadium, they will sport patches on their jerseys, rendered in USF green and gold, bearing Negoesco’s initials, along with the number 544, representing Negoesco’s coaching wins total over the course of his storied career.
SF City FC and the Dons have long had strong ties, dating back to the club’s foundation as a supporter-owned club. Many of its most notable players, such as Danny Kirkland, played for the Dons during their college careers, and the club has also included many USF alumni among its staff.
SF City FC’s broadcaster, Charles Wollin, has long been the voice of USF matches. The team’s clock keeper, Richard Segalas, worked at USF for years. The club’s first marketing manager, Steven Kenyon, who helped found the club, is a USF alumnus. Four current players — Ashish Chattha, Jorge Ruiz, Zyan Andrade, and Taiki Kajitani — along with Kirkland — now a SF City FC assistant — are current or former Dons players, with Kirkland also having served as a coach for the SF Glens Evolution club, serving as operations coordinator at Academy of Art and having played for SF City FC as a captain.
This year, interns from USF’s Sports Management program will be working alongside the club’s volunteers, gaining first hand experience that will aid them in their future careers.
After the proposal was accepted by the board, club football director Patryk Tenorio, an is assistant coach at USF under former head coach Eddie Soto, reached out to the Negoesco family.
Gonos, a lifelong Bay Area resident with deep roots in the City, with his family having moved from Greece over 100 years ago, then phoned Negoesco’s daughter, Sandra. She agreed.
“She was really very touched, and was especially happy that our players will be wearing the badges on the special third kit our team will debut for Pride weekend,” Gonos said via e-mail. “[Negoesco] was a believer in the equality and dignity of all people.”