There's Often More to a Soccer Team's Badge Than You Think

November 16, 2018

MLS Shield

The new FC Cincinnati logo has been unveiled, and while it looks like the old one only modified, it turns out there is more going on than meets the eye. Indeed, the badge of many MLS teams functions as more than just a logo, often holding a deeper meaning, with subtle design cues relating to the area that the team calls home.

Other’s, not so much. Take the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, for example (below left). Their logo, while awesome, is merely a stylish representation of the city's two biggest natural attractions, the Western Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.



Head south to Seattle and you’ll find one of the most popular teams in MLS, the Sounders (er, Sounders FC). Not surprisingly, their badge (above right) prominently features the city’s iconic Space Needle. Like Vancouver’s, it’s as simple as that.

Further south, the Pacific Northwest’s other side, the Portland Timbers, also have a dominant symbol on their badge (below left), in this case an ax. That, of course, honors the area’s rich history as a logging center. The references don’t stop there though. Three angled chevrons represent the city’s participation in the old North American Soccer League in the ‘70s, the United Soccer League, and the MLS today. Also, the crest is slightly more circular than most badges and reflects “unity, wholeness, and the pursuit of perfection.”

The Chicago Fire’s logo (above right), at first glance, also seems pretty straightforward, evoking the image of a firefighter's badge. A stylized “C” takes inspiration from the way that letter is used by fellow Windy City sports teams the Cubs and Bears. The star surrounding the “C” is echoed by the city flag of Chicago. The stars stand for The Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the two World’s Fairs (1893 & 1933) held in the city, and the Ft. Dearborn Massacre.

Orlando too has a deceptively simple badge (above). The shape of the badge is a holdover from their USL team, while the color purple was chosen because no one else in the league was using it. The lion was chosen because it “is strong, proud, and stoic. The king of the jungle never shies away from an opponent.” A subtle crown on the Lion's head represents the club’s dominant run in the USL. The mane of the lion, made to look like sun rays, of course, is a nod to Central Florida’s copious amount of sunshine.

Asking around the Cincy Shirts offices, the badges for Columbus and Atlanta got favorable reviews.

Columbus recently redid theirs, as their previous badge (below left) was considered by some to be the worst in all of professional sports. The new one is a circle, but a small crest with the number 96 inside honors the old shield as well as the year the club was founded. Nine diagonal lines refer to the other charter members of MLS, of which Columbus was one. A checkerboard pattern of the team’s colors is a shout-out to the fans.

Atlanta (above right) also has a circular badge but in their case it honors the city’s seal as well as the 1996 Olympics which were held there. The “A” is obvious and while the nickname exists elsewhere (including Minnesota and D.C. in MLS), here it signifies the many cultures that make Atlanta great. Five stripes represent the pillars of the team’s character which are unity, determination, community, excellence, and innovation. The black stripes are also a nod to Atlanta's history as an important railroad hub.

Which brings us back to Cincinnati and the new FC Cincinnati badge, which as a lot going on, especially compared to other MLS badges. As the image below shows, the city’s topography, the location of the club’s home pitch, it’s time in the USL, and more.

Leave a comment