Sunday, February 21, 2016
'FC' On Its Own Hasn't Won Yet in MLS
There seems to be a trend going on with metro areas in the hunt to get to MLS. Either some have already adopted 'FC', or you hear it in rumors swirling in soccer circles on the social media circuits. LAFC is next up coming in to the league. Atlanta FC is a distinct possibility. San Antonio FC is official in the minor leagues. St. Louis FC is the hot gossip.
Borrowing nicknames is a marketing strategy that teams deploy to recruit soccer fans who lean traditional. Connecting to a European nickname or utilizing 'FC' is a decision of trying to belong to the world community of soccer teams.
How much does an original nickname matter when it comes to performance on the field? There's probably no correlation, but the influence of a nickname can affect a community. It can raise spirits and be a point of solidarity. Timbers and Sounders are two that come to mind.
Combined with performance, nicknames can have a carry-over effect on culture. Galaxy and Cosmos are definitely two that have matched big city expectations.
Authenticity matters when it comes to success as an organization on and off the field. Being American, in going about your business matters, too. As for the history of professional soccer in the U.S., the L.A. Galaxy are arguably the team that has mattered most. The Galaxy is wholly American, even if most of its designated players still come from Europe.
Los Angeles will be the epicenter on the battle for whether 'FC' works or not. The most authentic American club resides there and the newest team brings a copycat format.
The problem with 'FC' is that the sport is called soccer in the U.S. So, without any other phrase or nickname attached, 'FC' is sending the message of just accepting the status quo from the rest of the world. The name 'Football Club' doesn't stand for enough on its own to galvanize support from the public and beat opposing teams on the field. The results are proven in the standings, as none carry any MLS Cups.
As expansion in MLS increases, if future teams take up 'City' as their primary nickname, we'll have to check in on their results when it comes to championships.