When Sports Illustrated reported Major League Soccer’s new Atlanta franchise would call itself Atlanta United FC on Thursday, a significant amount of people voiced their displeasure, seeming to be upset or, at the very least, underwhelmed.
Atlanta United FC? LOL seriously? Horrible.— Mike V (@FifthMike) June 25, 2015
Let’s not apologize for the name’s blandness. Atlanta United FC doesn’t really mean anything. You could say the name works because it's a metaphor for how the team unites the southeast of the country, which is the region with the fewest amount of MLS teams, but that’s a bit more of an excuse than a reason.
But again, there's no reason to apologize.
The name borrows from English teams’ nomenclature, like Manchester United FC or Newcastle United FC, with FC serving as an abbreviation for Futbol Club. It's worth noting that MLS already has the strangest borrowing from the rest of the world’s soccer culture: Real Salt Lake.
However, that doesn't mean the names will please everyone.
Should MLS be criticized for following the same naming standards as the rest of world? Absolutely not, especially for a league that hasn’t been shy about a desire to one day be the best league in the world.
“We want Major League Soccer to become one of the top leagues in the world by 2022,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in 2011.
There are plenty of teams across the world with borrowed names, simply because, throughout the history of the game, that’s the way it had always been done. The best example is FC Barcelona, which would be called Barcelona CF if it were to be named in Spanish. Barcelona borrowed its naming and colors (blue and red) from Switzerland’s FC Basel, as Barcelona’s founder came from Switzerland to establish the club.
In Italy, soccer is called “calcio,” not “futbol,” yet several teams still include “FC” in their names. Most of these clubs were established by Englishmen, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world hasn’t followed suit with naming other teams. In Argentina, there is a team inexplicably named Arsenal de Sarandi and there is a mimic Barcelona Sporting Club in Ecuador. Neither have anything to do with Arsenal FC in England or FC Barcelona.
There are countless small teams across the world which innocuously use “FC” in its name. The only country which, apparently, is too good for it is the USA.
US sports teams have pretty decent nicknames for their official team names. I don't see why MLS teams have to be Europeanized.— Ata Dizdar (@ata_dizdar) June 25, 2015
I will never understand why some MLS team names have FC's instead of SC's if its called Major League Soccer not Major League Football— Brian (@BrianDAlfonso) June 29, 2015
The United States already has a huge amount of fans watching the English Premier League, so why isn’t it OK to make it easier to identify MLS teams by the rest of the world’s naming standard?
When the league first began, traditional American team names like Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) or Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) were already given a try. It is easy to tell that more appealing names have replaced them over the years.
So until July 7, when Atlanta's team name (and logo) will be officially announced, there's no reason to fret over the newest MLS team name. European team names are a large part of soccer across the world and represent a level of which MLS hopes to reach some day.
So welcome to MLS, Atlanta United FC.