At least St. Louis’s MLS expansion team didn’t copy the naming traditions of its early 20th-century predecessors, who excelled in the U.S. Open Cup and produced numerous U.S. national team players while taking their club names from local department stores, breweries and funeral homes.
Instead, the new club—which will take the field in 2023—followed the current and apparently inescapable trend of giving American soccer teams derivative, European/British-style names. St. Louis City SC on Thursday became the fourth “City” in MLS—although Kansas City and New York City do have the word in their proper names—falling into line with all the other FCs/SCs, Uniteds (and one Real) in a league full of branding copycats.
A strong case can be made that no American city is more steeped in native soccer tradition than St. Louis. Looking toward Britain for the new team’s naming inspiration represents an interesting choice. Owner Carolyn Kindle Betz said Thursday that she hoped the club would help put St. Louis “on the international map,” and that she was intrigued by the moniker “once I started to get educated on why ‘City’ is an international name.”
The last new, created-from-scratch MLS entrant to select a unique, locally-themed name was the Philadelphia Union, which joined in 2010. That was the league’s 16th club. St. Louis and Sacramento Republic (an original name!) will be the 29th and 30th teams when they come aboard in 2023.
Kindle Betz said Thursday that the club received more than 6,000 fan submissions and suggestions for names, and that City “was the No. 1—it was the most popular.” She then asked business partner Lee Broughton and his staff to develop a branding story that would tie the new name and market together.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to expand the definition of city to include…everyone in the region,” she said. “It also allows us to remember and highlight the diverse cultures and iconic neighborhoods, but also embrace the proud traditions St. Louis has.”
Broughton said the SC was a double entrendre that could also stand for “soccer capital.”
The new club crest is a shield featuring the team name, its pinkish-red and dark blue colors and a series of lines that evoke the iconic Gateway Arch and the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated last summer, Kindle Betz was asked to share her initial thoughts about team branding and colors.
“I really like pink,” she said.
She wore a pink dress when MLS awarded her the team in August 2019. That inclination helped inform the club colors. The red from St. Louis’s well-known city flag is infused with a bit of salmon in honor of the league’s first female majority owner, Broughton said.