MLS Looking at Club Names

MLS Looking at Club Names

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 20, 2008
  • 6 Comments

Yesterday the MLS board of governors met to discuss a wide variety of topics, one being the naming of MLS clubs in this expansion era of the league.

Seattle begins play next year. Philadelphia will follow the year after in 2010. St. Louis is seen as the odds-on favorite for a 2011 expansion bid, and Montreal, Vancouver, Miami, Portland and New York all behind them hoping to either sneak in as club number 17 or 18.

With the amount of new teams in coming into the league in the next four years, the league is taking a look at how they will be named.

A couple clubs have been renamed since the league started back in 1996. San Jose was once the Clash and is now the Earthquakes. FC Dallas was known as the Dallas Burn.

Team names are at an interesting point right now for the MLS. We have a couple “Football Clubs” but no “Athletic Clubs” or AC. No one is using the name City or a year in which the city was found, though Houston came close before having to settle on another traditional name in Dynamo. No SC or “Soccer Club” as well as no Inter.

The biggest concern is seeing clubs with similar names. The article above points out that in the EPL there are three clubs with United as their name. Manchester, West Ham and Newcastle to be exact. All get along find and none confuse the other with having United in their name and logo.

Many think that when St. Louis enters the league they will be known as St. Louis United. Their group that is leading the charge in the expansion front is known as St. Louis Soccer United. So United makes perfect sense. The league commissioner Don Garber doesn’t back down from the idea of having two Uniteds in the league but hopes the clubs can form their own identity.

“My personal view is that a team deserves to have its own identity,” he said. “I don’t believe that D.C. owns the name United; it’s sort of ubiquitous in soccer throughout the world. [But] it’s hard to imagine that they can’t find a name that would be more distinctive for them and their community.

“We’re still developing our league and our team identities. I do believe our brands need to be about the sport going forward. We should celebrate the past, and honor and respect the past . . . but our brands should be about where we are tomorrow, not about where we were yesterday.

“I’m hopeful that they can find a name that is more future-thinking.”

Future-thinking indeed. I would much rather see a AC Seattle than a Seattle Thunder or something along that lines that we saw when the league was first started with names like Mutiny and Clash. I am not all against having two Uniteds in the league as well. We have to clubs with FC in their name and no one gets it confused (though I know that the FC comes at the beginning for Dallas and at the end for Toronto).

I think as new cities enter this league we will continue to have these traditional soccer names. The days of the NASL names are done and gone I think. As much as I would like to see a New York Cosmos, I just doubt it will actually happen that way.

  • spark

    The only thing I don't like about using AC or SC or whatever is that, unless I'm mistaken, they are used because it was a sporting club where soccer/football was one of the sports they played under this &quot;club&quot; sometimes over 100 yrs ago.<br />
    If they are going to use those it should be relevant – unless there is in fact a Seattle Athletic Club, then it just sounds bad. Real Salt Lake is a good example.

  • MLSRumors

    Excellent post. Check out our site for the latest on the Expansion name game. We have some big news to report regarding Seattle. Can you add us to your blog roll? Cheers. MLSR

  • spark

    The only thing I don’t like about using AC or SC or whatever is that, unless I’m mistaken, they are used because it was a sporting club where soccer/football was one of the sports they played under this “club” sometimes over 100 yrs ago.
    If they are going to use those it should be relevant – unless there is in fact a Seattle Athletic Club, then it just sounds bad. Real Salt Lake is a good example.

  • Excellent post. Check out our site for the latest on the Expansion name game. We have some big news to report regarding Seattle. Can you add us to your blog roll? Cheers. MLSR

  • Patrick

    Spark makes a good point. I also think it should be pointed out that we are not Europe and do not need to follow the same type of naming as they did. There is history behind the naming in European clubs that we don't have here. Real and F.C. don't really make sense here. I feel like the league thinks it needs to try and appeal to the European clubs by naming teams similar to them and that's not the case. Though some of the names the league have chosen have been bad, I'm not opposed to keeping traditional American style sports names with the team.

  • Patrick

    Spark makes a good point. I also think it should be pointed out that we are not Europe and do not need to follow the same type of naming as they did. There is history behind the naming in European clubs that we don’t have here. Real and F.C. don’t really make sense here. I feel like the league thinks it needs to try and appeal to the European clubs by naming teams similar to them and that’s not the case. Though some of the names the league have chosen have been bad, I’m not opposed to keeping traditional American style sports names with the team.