University of San Francisco head men's soccer coach Eddie Soto. (Christina Leung / USF Athletics)

University of San Francisco head men’s soccer coach Eddie Soto resigns

University of San Francisco men’s soccer head coach Eddie Soto announced his resignation from the Dons on Thursday after five years with the program.

Soto, 46, will become the new head coach for Cal State Dominguez Hills, south of Los Angeles in Carson. A Southern California native, Soto was an assistant at UCLA, Cal State Fullerton (his alma mater) and Long Beach State, as well as a coach in the L.A. Galaxy’s youth program. He took the job to be closer to family.

“Over the last five years, Eddie has done an incredible job of leading our storied program back to national prominence,” said new San Francisco athletic director Joan McDermott. “We thank him for his determination and hard work, and wish him all the best at Cal State Dominguez Hills.”

Soto took over the historic Dons’ men’s program prior to the 2014, following Erik Visser’s 13-year tenure. He became the fifth head coach in the program’s history, and in his first season, Soto saw 10 of his players awarded to All-West Coast Conference honors and guided San Francisco to its first winning record since the 2006 season, finishing with an 11-6-2 overall mark.

In 2016, Soto’s team scored a 2-1 upset over nationally-ranked Stanford in front of a sell-out crowd at Negoesco Stadium. Under Soto, the Dons have defeated five top-25 ranked opponents, most recently a 1-0 road victory over eighth-ranked UCLA in September.

Soto guided San Francisco to the program’s 35th conference championship in 2017, a season in which the Dons went on a seven-game unbeaten streak. During that run, San Francisco won six straight in WCC play. The season was capped by a 2-1 comeback win over host Cal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament — the first by the program since 1994. Soto earned WCC Coach of the Year for his efforts. This season was a down one, as the Dons went 6-10-1 and 4-3 in WCC play.

In his five years at San Francisco, Soto went 40-45-7. The opening will be the first that new AD McDermott has to fill. The timeline for filling the vacancy should be filled quickly once the basketball postseason is over. There could very well be a perfect candidate just a few miles away.

San Francisco State head men’s coach Javier Ayala-Hil, who also serves as the San Francisco Glens head coach in the USL-PDL. In January, four of his players from the Glens were drafted by MLS teams.

He’s led the Gators to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, including a 2017 team that went 12-5-2 made the postseason for the first time since 1978. Ayala-Hil earned the CCAA Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year for that campaign, matching the best start in program history (5-0) and reaching the CCAA semifinals after beating No. 13 UC San Diego.

Ayala-Hil joined San Francisco State after spending three seasons on the men’s soccer coaching staff at his alma mater, Cal. He was the top assistant for the Golden Bears for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, where he was in charge of day-to-day operations.

During his time in Berkeley, the Bears went 34-18-5, were ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, in 2014. In 2013, they were ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation for six weeks, and went 2-1 in the NCAA Tournament.

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