Ranking the MLS Crests: 11-21

Orlando City's new crest

Orlando City’s new crest

Yesterday, Orlando City unveiled the crest (pictured at right) they’ll be wearing when they make the jump to Major League Soccer next season. It’s a fine addition to league’s modern logos, in my opinion. Given the news, I figured now would be as good a time as any to look at MLS crests and determine the best and worst. Today, I take a look at the bottom half of the league’s crest, most of which are still pretty good, in the search for MLS’s worst. You can probably guess what’s at the bottom of this list.

11. Portland Timbers

There’s not much to complain about here; it’s certainly an improvement on the overly-detailed original crest. But it just feels as if it’s missing something that would bring it into the top-tier of crests. I don’t know what that something is.

12. Orlando City SC

This is a good crest. They removed two of the three lions (yes, three lions) that were on the USL Pro team’s shield. The lion/sun motif is clever and immediately distinctive, especially since this will be the only purple team in MLS. There’s even 21 flares to that sun, acknowledging their status as team 21. But someone pointed out that it looks like an insurance logo, and now I can’t un-see it.

13. San Jose Earthquakes

This was a controversial crest when it was unveiled back in January, but for the most part I like it. One wonders, though, if the wordmark should say “Earthquakes” rather than “Quakes,” or if the soccer ball should be centered on that axis motif. Also, if the top of the shield was straight, matching the wordmark, that would be an improvement.

14. Chivas USA 

Say what you will about the club’s history of discrimination/farm-club status/poor play on the field, but this isn’t a bad crest. It doesn’t have much to do with Los Angeles (it features the city seal of Guadalajara), but it’s a good looking thing on the whole. This is the last year for it; MLS will be selling the club to new owners shortly, and presumably the club will be rebranded in time for 2015.

15. Philadelphia Union

I liked this when I first saw it, but it’s shrunk on me. It’s very busy. You have four colors, two fonts, a shield within a circle…The gold-light blue-gold striping in the center circle is the opposite of the city flag, and needlessly complicated around the shield shape. This would be better if “Union” was written out on the bottom of the circle, and the snake was surrounded by stars on a plain background in the center.

16. Colorado Rapids

Colorado was one of the early MLS teams forced to rehaul their imagery, and for the most part, I think they did a good job with the rebrand. The mountain is evocative of Colorado, there’s a nod to the team’s first year, and I generally like that color scheme. My gripe here is that the crest is outlined about five times. It would be a better, cleaner crest if it consisted solely of the central maroon part and the first silver outline.

17. Houston Dynamo

This doesn’t do much for me. I get that Houston has an energy-based economy, but this feels like a generic crest. “Dynamo” dominates the crest; I think it’s too big. Above the wordmark are ten orange spokes; why ten? This was a replacement crest, when the Houston 1836 name proved controversial. I love that 1836 crest. But they could have done better with its successor.

18. Sporting Kansas City

There’s a lot going on here, and not much of it is good. There’s a gradient, shadows, bevels and some name confusion. A stranger looking at this crest might think the team is Kansas City Sporting, and be completely confused by the interlocking SC, which refers to the ownership (Sporting Club) and not the club. I like the nod to Kansas City’s state-border home, but SKC would be better off with a more minimalist look. All that being said, it’s an improvement on the Wizards branding.

19. Columbus Crew

On appearance alone, this isn’t a terrible crest. But it’s not a good one for a soccer team based in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is not a blue-collar construction town; it’s known as much as anything as the home of Ohio State University. The crest also says “The Crew,” rather than note the city’s name anywhere. The shadowy figures in construction helmets will likely go soon; Columbus’ new owner plans a new crest for 2015.

20. New York Red Bulls

No one can seem to agree on whether the team’s name is Red Bull New York, as this crest would suggest, or New York Red Bulls, as the team’s website sees. Even then, the team uses #RBNY instead of #NYRB. Beyond the confusion, I’m simply not crazy about a corporate logo dominating an otherwise plain crest.

21. New England Revolution

This is not a crest. Or timely in any era but the 1990s. Or befitting a professional sports franchise. It’s not good, is what I’m saying. Most everyone knows this, by now. But, as with many of the problems surrounding the Revs, it seems as though we’ll have to wait until the team finds a stadium of its own before it’s fixed.

Tomorrow, I will look at the top 10 crests. Who will come out on top?

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