Not feeling the (Dallas) Burn: why MLS teams tried to sound more European

There was a time when US soccer was a storm of Rowdies and Cosmos, but now United is the name of choice. What’s going on?

Once, pro soccer in the United States firmly embraced the country’s sporting culture. Teams that came to prominence in the 1970s in the North American Soccer League (NASL) had names that wouldn’t sound out of place in the NFL: the New York Cosmos and and Tampa Bays perhaps being the most notable. Cheerleaders  roamed the sidelines, and even the foundations of the game – such as the offside rule and the draw – were changed to appeal to an audience accustomed to traditional American sports.

But over the last 15 years, Major League Soccer has evolved from a league of teams with names such as Wizards, Burn and Clash to something that sounds a lot more, well, European. There are three Uniteds (Atlanta, Minnesota and DC), two called City (New York – whose name is down to their parent club, Manchester City – and Orlando), one Real (Salt Lake) and a Sporting (Kansas City). That’s not to mention the many lower division sides who have also changed their names in recent years.

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