Root for That Union Label

Why Philly's new soccer team has a great new name.

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 11 | Posted May. 11, 2009

Share this Story:

The fans wanted the new Philly MLS team to be called the Philadelphia Laser Rocket Cocks. Or Philadelphia Team Compassion. Or Philadelphia Zombie Sharks.

The Philly franchise management, however, were having none of that nonsense. They offered up a much plainer menu:

• AC Philadelphia
• SC Philadelphia
• Philadelphia Union
• Philadelphia City

Fans were invited to vote, and late last week (despite write-in votes from non-Philadelphians for Philadelphia Bastards, the Brother Lovers and the Cracked Bell Ends FC) the news leaked that Philadelphia’s first top-flight team playing a truly international sport in over 29 years will be called … the Philadelphia Union.

Opinions will be divided. There are some U.S. soccer fans who revere the strange and uniquely American tradition of naming teams after local foodstuffs, musical genres, predators, planets, Dungeons and Dragons characters or soft drink brands (see New York Red Bulls, the LA Galaxy and the Kansas City Wizards) and who see any tendency towards non-showbizzy nomenclature as fawning at the loafer-shod feet of that vilest of all soccer fans, the infamous Eurosnob.

They will not like Union. Nor does PW online editor Joel Mathis who emailed feverishly demanding I hack out 500 angry words stating why the Union sucks utterly.

I can’t. Because it doesn’t. My first choice was Philadelphia City. But the more I think about Union, the more I like it.

Union references our radical revolutionary past—the Philadelphia of those great revolutionary Englishmen Thomas Paine and Benjamin Lay, the city where the phrase “ever more perfect union” was first committed to paper.

Nearly a century later “Union” had another, equally progressive meaning; it described the Northern armies that—after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—fought what can only be described as a war of liberation.

And then of course there’s Philadelphia’s proud involvement in the labor union movement, protecting working and middle class Americans from the never-ending class war waged on them by the rich.

So the Philadelphia Union ticks the progressive box in the three great ideological struggles in American history: democracy vs. monarchy, capitalism vs. feudalism and labor vs. capital. Could we have chosen more righteous name? (And hopefully we’ll be later be able to develop bitter rivalries with yet-to-be-formed blue state franchises called the Scabs, the Confederates and the Royalists.)

Plus soccer fans, more than fans of any other sport, have a rich tradition of writing and adapting (usually wonderfully vulgar) songs.

The amazing Philly fan group the Sons of Ben (who must take a huge slice of the credit for bringing the world’s most beautiful game back to Philadelphia), have already proved adept at this, and already have more songs and chants than all the other Philly franchises combined.

And the good news is that the name Union comes with more fantastic, designed-to-be-sung-by-a-joyous-crowd songs than you can shake a shitty stick at.

Union forever!

Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend


Comments 1 - 11 of 11
Report Violation

1. anonymous said... on May 11, 2009 at 11:29PM

“great post, great team name, great analysis, fantastic music. that strawbs song is a MUST for home games.”

Report Violation

2. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2009 at 08:42AM


Report Violation

3. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2009 at 08:42AM


Report Violation

4. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2009 at 12:29PM

“Philadelphia Union already has a "royal" rival. That would be Real Salt Lake out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Their version of Son's of Ben are actually called "The Loyalists".......I smell trouble brewing.

As for the Scabs? That would probably be the Columbus Crew, just look at their logo/crest, would ANYONE hire those guys normally? Nope.

You're not likely to have any Confederates in this league.

1. The league would never ok a team aligned with the side that supported slavery.

2. The southeast for the most part is not interested in any sport of football that doesn't involve gird iron lines and touchdowns.”

Report Violation

5. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2009 at 02:18PM

“If we want a side that supported slavery, why not create a team called "The British?"

Because it was the British that gave money and arms to the slave-holders--even built them a warship called the Alabama. You can look it up.

God bless you, Britain. Always backing a winner.”

Report Violation

6. Fraction said... on May 12, 2009 at 03:49PM

“Another union....just what the city needs. I can't wait till these assholes strike too. Great crest though.”

Report Violation

7. Steven Wells said... on May 12, 2009 at 04:12PM

“Oh Sean aka Anonymous aka The Cranky Yank aka Alfie ...

You're starting to sound just as teensy-weensy little bit obsessed.

As you dislike "the British" so much, can you tell us which of the founding fathers you despise the most?

Perhaps you could rank them? That would be fun.”

Report Violation

8. Union Review said... on May 12, 2009 at 05:51PM

“Great post!
You should cross-post this to and spread the word.

Report Violation

9. travis said... on May 13, 2009 at 01:09AM

“Living in East Berlin as an American expat, Berlin's FC Union play just down the street from me. "Union" as a football club's name is steeped in history and Berlin's team represents the working class fans of Berlin. They've just been promoted to the second division of German football. I think it's a fantastic name to represent the people of Philadelphia. Well done!”

Report Violation

10. Viridian1 said... on May 13, 2009 at 09:37PM

“Isn't Philly one of the fattest cities in the country? Why not call them the Philadelphia Bellies?”

Report Violation

11. SchmidtUltra said... on Jun 1, 2009 at 02:12PM

“I must say this is the first time I've read an article by you, Stephen, and agreed with every point. Going to be rough with the stadium being in Chester, but I'm very excited for The Union.”


(HTML and URLs prohibited)