Major League Soccer (MLS) Team Names

In the style of other US sports, MLS clubs were given random nicknames such as the Chicago Fire, Kansas City Wizards, and Columbus Crew. The MLS team names mirrored the names of other teams in professional leagues in the U.S. (e.g. Chicago Bulls, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves).

This naming convention differs from the way teams are named in the higher profile football leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Argentina. Clubs in these leagues have names like Manchester United, Manchester City Real Madrid, Chelsea FC, Arsenal, Fulham FC, Hanover 96, River Plate, AC Milan, and the nicknames for these teams naturally evolved from their fans and local media. For example, the Manchester United team is known as the Red Devils, the Chelsea team is known as the Lions, the Arsenal team is known as the Gunners, and the Real Madrid team is known as Los Galacticos.

At first DC United and Miami Fusion FC were the only teams to adopt traditional football club names. However, many of the new expansion teams have decided to use traditional football naming conventions (FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo). The best example of this is the new 2007-08 team, Toronto FC. Toronto has decided to give their team a simple name with the hopes that the new club will earn a more organic nickname from the Toronto fans rather than have one imposed from above. Already the team has earned the nickname “The Red Patch Boys,” which refers to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division mobilized at the outbreak of World War II.

As the MLS continues to grow and more expansion teams are added I would like to see this trend continue. Thus, I have created some names for the cities that are looking to add MLS teams.

St. Louis, MO – River City FC – because its location on the Mississippi River

Milwaukee, WI – Lakefront FC – named after neighborhood in the city that faces Lake Michigan (this would be the perfect place for a stadium)

New York City – East/West/North/South Side FC – name it according to the team’s location in relation to Red Bull New York. I think this would help create a rivalry.

Portland, Oregon – Portland 1851 – year Portland was designated as a city

Charlotte, NC – Queen City FC – Charlotte’s Nickname

Phoenix, AZ – PHX
– Abbreviation of the city often times seen on the Phoenix Suns’ jerseys

Philadelphia, PA – Philly FC or Broad Street FC or Delaware River FC – natural/cultural features in Philadelphia

San Francisco, CA – Bay Area FC – San Francisco Bay is one of the most well-known bays in the U.S.


  1. Queen City boy

    I think you are right about the names and how they were just seemingly thrown together haphazardly… I like the simple names that somewhat mimic the EPL’s names; DC United, Toronto FC, etc. But then your idea of names dealing with the area in which the teams reside in is, what I think, a good idea. Having a name that can easily been seen as being relatable to the surrounding are should be a requirement. I live in Charlotte, NC and so many people around here use the term ‘Queen City’ to refer to the city. I just hope we will someday (soon) get a MLS team of our own. If anyone were to look around Charlotte on any given Saturday you would not see football, baseball, or basketball games being played, you would see soccer. Little kids, teenagers, and adults all play soccer here. It is easily the most popular sport here that is growing very quickly. The fan base would be huge.

  2. Derek

    Interesting post. Being a fanatical soccer fan and a native of St. Louis, which is very likely to gain an MLS franchise in the near future, I am interested in what the club will be called. I like the traditional names (F.C., United, etc.), but I wonder why American teams choose F.C. (football club) over S.C. (soccer club). In most countries, the acronym represents local language/parlance. For example in Mexico you have teams with the acronym C.D. (Club Deportivo). As long as we Yanks call football soccer, our team names should reflect that. Otherwise we look like we are shamelessly copying the Brits. Also, Real Salt Lake is the most ridiculous name in the MLS in my opinion. Real is Spanish for Royal. Real Madrid was denoted as the “royal” club because it was the favorite of a former king. There is no other club that has the word Real in its name. This makes it completely ridiculous for a club in SLC to copy. Tacky. Regarding your suggestions for team names, I like most of them. At first I was unsure about PHX, but now I like it. I don’t like River City FC for my beloved St. Louis, however, because hundreds of American cities claim the nickname. Also, local St. Louisans rarely refer to their city by this name. In conclusion, I personally like team names such as F.C. (or S.C.) because they allow the fans to choose the nicknames (as they really do in Europe).

  3. derek

    Also, not to nitpick, but although Chelsea has a lion in their crest, they are referred to as the “Blues”, not the Lions.

    God, I hate people that point out minute errors. I’m such an ass.

  4. abeschenck

    You are certainly on the right track! I like “Inter-Philadelphia”, “NCFC”, or giving NY’s a more Latino focus, IE “CD Bronx, CD Queens, CD Brooklyn et al.”

  5. Michael



  6. Anonymous

    Real Betis?

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