As an alumnus of the University of San Francisco and a follower of both soccer teams, the events of the last two seasons of USF Men’s Soccer have left me frustrated and disappointed. I am not concerned so much with the results earned (or not earned) on the pitch, but more with the general direction of the program.
Two years of poor results cannot ultimately be reduced solely to the faults of players. In college sports, players transfer out, entire classes graduate, and fresh inexperienced arrivals enter. Year in and year out, creation of continuity from season to season is the quintessence of the challenge posed to college athletic programs. Yet beyond the continual ebb and flow of incoming and outgoing players, most programs, and USF in particular, has an enduring source of continuity: the coach.
Erik Visser has been associated with USF soccer for over 30 years both on the field and on the bench. As a standout defender in the 1978 and 1980 National Championship teams, the first USF Women’s coach, and as coach of three WCC Championship teams, nobody can doubt that he takes part in the legacy and history of the Green and Gold. He knows this program, and as head coach, his has the ultimate responsibility to guide the Dons towards success on the pitch.
And after two years of unacceptable results, however, one cannot help but wonder whether or not Visser continues to fulfill that heavy responsibility which USF’s legacy demands. His decades of service to the University must not mitigate the fact that the 2009 Dons (defending WCC champs, blessed with talents like Bryan Burke, Connor Chinn, Jonathan Levi, Victor Wennberg and Leon Williams) should have at least contended for the title once again instead of finishing second to last. Within the last twelve months, the voluntary departures of Felipe Cabrera, Omar Elmasri, Oscar Englund, and Adam Nowak (all gifted veterans of the last WCC championship) from USF soccer vigorously indicate an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the program. There can be no question as to who must be held accountable for such a mass exodus of quality players.
The last two seasons do not constitute the kind of continuity that this program deserves. Perhaps we have reached the point of diminishing returns. Perhaps we are in need of some long-awaited house cleaning. The time has come to reopen the doors to let in some fresh air and fresh leadership, and I doubt that the Athletic Department which brought Jennifer Azzi to Lady Dons Basketball is incapable of finding another illustrious name to take the helm of our soccer program. More years on the Hilltop will not turn Erik Visser into Stephen Negoesco; out of deference to the legacy, which he received from his predecessor, Visser should step aside.
Joey Belleza (BA Theology ‘10) is a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army
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