Just realized why the MLS annoys me - they don't trust their fans.....

…to come up with their own traditions and culture.

Let me say at the outset that this is not another “Soccer is STOOPID” thread. It’s not a game that has ever caught my interest, but I know it’s the most popular sport on the planet, and that the World Cup is only rivaled by the Olympics as the biggest international sporting event. I’m not here to crap on the game.

But my home city of Atlanta just got a brand-new, hugely popular MLS franchise that the city has gone nuts for. (Which makes me feel like an atheist at a tent revival, 'cuz I just can’t get into soccer.) I was looking at an Atlanta United mural the other day when I finally realized why the MLS slightly irritates me. It’s because they are not trying to be an American soccer league; they’re pretending to be a European one in the U.S.

For example, Atlanta United, and other teams, call themselves “football clubs”. Yes, I know that the game they play is called “football” in all the rest of the world. But here in this country, it’s known as “soccer”. (And that’s completely leaving aside the argument on which code has the right to the name. Both are “football”, in the same manner and for exactly the same reason that gorillas and chimpanzees are both “apes”.) For better or worse, “football” in the U.S. is the sport in which players wear pads, carry the ball, and play in the autumn. The sport played by kicking a ball into a goal is called “soccer.”

The other thing is the team names. American sports leagues have a pattern for team names - a locale, then a nickname. Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Braves, Golden State Warriors. Some MLS teams, like the Portland Timbers or the San Jose Earthquakes, adhere to this. But then you have “Atlanta United” (plus two other "United"s and one “Union”), “Sporting Kansas City”, and even “Real Salt Lake”. Clearly, these are attempts to evoke famous European teams like Manchester United and Real Madrid. (If MLS ever put a team in New Jersey, I bet they’d call it Bayonne Munchen.)

The European teams’ names actually mean something, though. According to Wikipedia, Manchester United was formed by the merger of two teams, thus the “United”. Atlanta United and DC United have no historic reason to be called such.

“Real Salt Lake” is especially egregious, as “real” in Spanish means “royal”; Real Madrid was granted that title by the King of Spain. The owners of the Salt Lake team apparently awarded it to themselves because it sounded cool and European. I think it just sounds stupid, especially as “real” is also an English word. Is their minor league team called “Fake Salt Lake”?

MLS has survived longer than any other major soccer league in the US, and Atlanta United flags, jersey, and hats are everywhere to be seen in Atlanta, so clearly there’s a demand for it. Thus is seems presumptuous to me to try to ape the culture and history of legacy European teams, rather than establish a culture of their own. Soccer scarves seem pretty damn silly on Atlanta fans in July.

I’ll bet if MLS didn’t try to force a culture on their fans, one would emerge organically. Trust your fans, MLS.

Yeah, the aping of European soccer team names is idiotic.

My semi-related gripe involves U.S. sports media copying the Brits when it comes to referring to soccer teams. It’s commonplace to see a story in U.K. media that says something like “Liverpool are hoping for a successful rematch”. But it’s grating, not to mention moronic when a story on an American sports website says “Seattle are expecting a close game”.

Seattle is expecting a close one. :smack:

I’m pretty sure Manchester United was not formed by the merger of two teams and was in fact apeing the style of a more popular team.

Newcastle United was formed by the merger of two teams.


Right. But one of the most popular teams in the world did the same thing that apparently annoys so many Americans. DC has exactly as much historical reason to be named United as does ManU. Personally, the United names don’t bother me very much. Real Salt Lake is an abomination though.

Exactly right. Sporting KC? Fine. FC Dallas? OK. Minnesota/DC/Atlanta United? Yup. Real Salt Lake? Hell no.

That said I do prefer the more American-style names: Houston Dynamo (even if it does seem cribbed from Kiev), Seattle Sounders, etc.

I agree with everything in this post. Faux European team names are annoying.

And three teams using the same name? Bleargh.

Plus, the Faux European thing kinda reminds some people of why they don’t like soccer. Hipsters in the sports bar that did a semester abroad or a Eurail trip and now they’re talking about their new flat that they’re renting while they’re wearing a European jersey.

Faux Euro names are kind of annoying. I do give DC United a pass since they’re in the UNITED States capital.

Is Seattle one person or many?

Yep. The sports-talk station that broadcasts Atlanta United games has the tagline “Atlanta United play here!” No, they don’t, since “here” is Georgia, not Lancashire.

In this context, Seattle is one entity, and takes a singular verb. You may argue that it’s illogical, but that’s how American English works.

If you think the MLS team names are aping, check out the teams from Japan’s “J1 League”. Most ol the teams include the city name with some unrelated “European-esque” name.

Albirex Niigata
Cerezo Osaka
Consadole Sapporo
F.C. Tokyo
Gamba Osaka
Júbilo Iwata
Kashima Antlers
Kashiwa Reysol
Kawasaki Frontale
Omiya Ardija
Sagan Tosu
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Shimizu S-Pulse
Urawa Red Diamonds
Vegalta Sendai
Ventforet Kofu
Vissel Kobe
Yokohama F. Marinos

The sport played by kicking a ball into a goal is called Association football. The clubs are Association football clubs. That is what they are, and if they were not association football clubs then they would be something else and not accredited or licensed by FIFA.

Call them soccer clubs if you want, but they don’t call themselves football clubs just for the hell of it.

As an aside, I just searched through a document listing and outlining all Fifa club licensing regulations. The word soccer is not mentioned once.

Sounds plausible, except for the fact that Chicago, Columbus, and Orlando City all call themselves “soccer clubs”.

Further into the realm of silly copycat-ism is ESPN’s listing of an MLS “table” instead of standings (which is used for every other sport). Sports Illustrated on the other hand goes with standings.

I half expect ESPN to start referring to team “colours” and to start editorializing (sorry, “editorialising”) for the playing of God Save The Queen before every MLS game.

Yeah, well, you know what the ‘S’ in MLS stands for, right? The league ought to decide what exactly they want to call their sport.

I’ve been to a couple of Minnesota United gams this year. While they go by MNUFC they also have the loon as the team mascot so I’m hoping they become more known as the Minnesota Loons as time goes by.
Another European thing that seemed forced on us was this manufactured cheering section. It’s behind one of the goals and has a few guys on a platform leading a section in chants along with a few drums and huge flags. Not really a fan of that.
Lastly, somehow the MNUFC victory song is Wonderwall by Oasis? If the team wins they play the song and the crowd is supposed to sing along. I have no idea who came up with this tradition or why but it seems to be another forced Euro reference.

You would not be saying this if you followed MLS since it’s origination. It DID start with American sounding team names. And tried to be “American”. It didn’t catch on very well. At times was mocked. The league almost went under in 2001 (and actually did for 24 hours). It began to go more European to try to get European soccer fans (and young urban professionals) interested. That seemed to work a bit better. FC Dallas is far less mocked than the Dallas Burn was and Sporting Kansas City is definitely far less mocked than Kansas City Wizards (and before that Kansas City Wiz) were.

Oh, and for the record, Manchester United was NEVER two clubs that joined together. Before they were were Manchester United they were Newton Heath. New owners in 1902 decided to call them Manchester United because they liked the United name.