NASL club Minnesota United FC is set to join the MLS in 2017 alongside expansion franchise Atlanta United FC. Without even meeting on the pitch, it looks like Atlanta have drawn first blood. According to a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Brian Straus, MLS is not so united on the use of one of footballs most iconic monikers.
According to Straus, conversations are taking place within MLS regarding concerns about the league’s introduction of two Uniteds in the same season with the already well-established D.C. United. Though Minnesota has used the United label in competition since 2013, one year before the announcement of Atlanta’s brand, they will likely be compelled to drop United from their name when they begin play in 2017.
Atlanta’s claim to the name is a result of their MLS expansion bid being accepted almost one year before Minnesota’s. By virtue of being in the league first, MLS is backing Atlanta’s right to keeping the name above Minnesota, who arguably has a stronger association with the United name. AUFC President Darren Eales has contended that United, “has particular resonance for Atlanta, as a transport hub in the Southeast, as a multi-cultural, international city and as a club committed to community.”
Once MLS confirms its wishes for a Minnesota name change, the expansion franchise will likely be very quick to announce their new brand so they can prepare merchandise and stadium materials for their inaugural season. Fans are expecting Minnesota to keep blue and gray as a primary color scheme and only slightly alter the visually appealing logo they used as Minnesota United FC. Potential new names for Minnesota have already been speculated, including Minnesota FC, Minnesota City FC, Minnesota Loons and Minnesota Stars. The club’s official nickname is The Loons and before they were United, Minnesota’s NASL team was known as Minnesota Stars FC.
Minnesota United FC will be taking part in the preseason Simple Invitational tournament against MLS clubs at Providence Park in Portland, OR from Feb. 21-27. Their final NASL season begins April 2 against the Carolina Railhawks.