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Maintain appearances on all sides

There now follows a ranking of the top club crests and logos in the United Soccer League, a second division football league in the United States and Canada. Criteria include recognisability [can you readily distinguish it from other club crests?], interestingness [is there something intriguing or unique?], exclusivity [is there something specific to that club or its location?], and attractiveness [how does it look, both in isolation and on a kit?].

  1. Sacramento Republic: The club have drawn heavily from the state flag: the colours, the bear, the star, and even the name Republic itself derive from California’s flag. But they are all reconfigured into something new and different; adding the city motto [“Indomitable City”] makes this the league’s best.
  2. Austin Aztex: Austin are currently on hiatus following floods that damaged their stadium two years ago. Upon their return, their crest, depicting the lone star and the state capitol, will be amongst the league’s best.
  3. Bethlehem Steel: The original Bethlehem Steel club, which folded in 1930, were amongst the best in the nation and are still tied for most US Open Cups won [five]. The I beam from that club’s crest joins the snake from the parent club, the Philadelphia Union, to form a striking crest.
  4. Rochester Rhinos: The Rhinos, the only non-MLS club to win the US Open Cup since MLS began, reincorporated under new ownership last year and finally de-cartoonised their logo.
  5. Tulsa Roughnecks: Named for oil workers, the Roughnecks have accordingly incorporated an oil rig into their crest.
  6. Charlotte Independence: Named in honour of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, the crest depicts the year of the declaration and the person who carried it to Philadelphia, Capt James Jack [not Paul Revere].
  7. Reno 1868: Named for the city’s founding date, Reno 1868’s crest depicts the Truckee River and the Sierra Nevadas. We here at GoobNet are naturally thrilled at their use of the arched capital N.
  8. Phoenix Rising: If we told you there was a football club in Phoenix and asked you to guess their crest, this is probably what you would come up with: a bird rising from a flaming football. Admittedly, this is a very nicely done version version of it.
  9. Real Monarchs SLC: This clearly ties in with the parent club, Real Salt Lake, but their iconic lowercase E in Real is nowhere to be found here.
  10. OKC Energy: The crest incorporates the state motto [“Labour Conquers All”], and the green stripes are meant to evoke the Osage Nation shield on the state flag. But in the final design, this is difficult to read.
  11. Colorado Springs Switchbacks: The angled text certainly evokes a switchback, but there is simply too much going on in this logo. A simplified version, perhaps using only the S shape, would be a welcome addition.
  12. Louisville City: The name and colours represent the club’s original ties to Orlando City, their MLS affiliate until Orlando City B began play. This crest is a replacement for an initial design that was widely panned and shelved before the club ever took the pitch.
  13. Rio Grande Valley Toros: The club have clearly borrowed the colours of their MLS affiliate, Houston Dynamo, but there is nothing else here that stands out.
  14. Swope Park Rangers: Named for the Sporting KC practise facility where they play, Swope Park Rangers have clearly borrowed from their West London namesake, Queens Park Rangers.
  15. Richmond Kickers: Richmond have done the best they can with a name like “Kickers”: a K motivated by pinball. Strictly speaking, though, the K is made up of flippers, not kickers.
  16. FC Cincinnati: The winged lion holding a sword and football is by far the best part of this crest, but curiously the emphasis is on the crown and the letters FC instead.
  17. Ottawa Fury: Ottawa join the USL from the NASL this season and bring their crest with them. There is not much here other than a flame – after all, how else would one represent an abstract concept like fury?
  18. Harrisburg City Islanders: Named for City Island, an island in the Susquehanna River where their stadium is located, Harrisburg’s logo is so simplistic that it’s actually kind of adorable.
  19. St Louis FC: For some clubs, a minimalist crest works just fine. We are waiting for a Fleur-de-Lis Cup to be played between St Louis and Louisville.
  20. San Antonio FC: The spur found in this crest represents the club’s ownership, the San Antonio Spurs. However, one hopes that this club will find some image to call their own.
  21. Tampa Bay Rowdies: Tampa Bay join the USL from the NASL this season and bring their crest with them. It is a simple, yet effective, homage to the 1970s club.
  22. Orlando City B: The only MLS second team to use a B rather than a 2 or a II, OCB have taken the parent club’s crest and simply swapped out the text.
  23. Los Angeles Galaxy II: Officially, Galaxy II’s logo is the first team’s crest with the Roman numeral beneath it. In fact, though, they simply wear the first team’s kits and swap out the MLS sleeve patches with a USL patch on one sleeve and a patch with the second team’s nickname, “Los Dos”, on the other.
  24. Charleston Battery: Named for the Battery, a historic district in Charleston, this club traditionally wear yellow and black stripes. The crest has not aged well and could use a refresh.
  25. Vancouver Whitecaps 2: The Cascadia clubs have all selected abbreviations for their second teams. In this case, WFC2 simply took the outline of the first team’s crest and made some erasures.
  26. Portland Timbers 2: This crest forms the abbreviation T2, but the number is in a block font that is not found anywhere in the organisation’s identity.
  27. Pittsburgh Riverhounds: The Riverhounds have changed their colours twice over the years, going from red to blue to their current black and gold. However, the one thing they needed to change, their logo, has not been touched.
  28. Seattle Sounders 2: If we told you the Seattle Sounders had a second team and asked you to guess their crest, you would say: “It would look like something, and not just be a silhouette of the first team’s crest with an abbreviation in it”. You would be wrong.
  29. Toronto FC II: Changing the T in the first team’s crest to a Roman numeral seems like the obvious play. But Toronto have somehow found a way to ruin even that.
  30. New York Red Bulls II: Last season, Red Bulls II became the first MLS second team to win a title. With a minimum of fuss, they have replaced the football with a Roman numeral.
  31. Orange County SC: Formerly the Orange County Blues, Orange County SC introduced a new crest that represents... what, exactly? Is the circle supposed to represent an orange? Then why is it white?