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Just Name The USL Team Bethlehem Steel FC Already

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Philadelphia Union,

First of all, congratulations, you're finally moving into the "modern" era of the MLS/USL partnership, albeit a bit late, but better late than never.

I know that I may not have unanimous agreement with all writers and editors here on the Brotherly Game but let's level with each other here. The USL team is going to be called Bethlehem Steel FC. You know it and I know it. I don't pretend to be a detective here, but it's pretty plain to see. My first clue as to the team name being Bethlehem Steel FC (which I will refer to as BSFC for the rest of this letter) is the fan vote you guys put up. Now, I'm not arguing against giving people the option to choose the name, however, I notice interestingly enough that there is no tally as to the current vote percentage or number of votes cast. This intrigues me because I would be curious to see how many votes have been cast for each option. The fact that you didn't bother to have the option to just see where the voting trend is going tells me that no matter how the fan vote actually goes, you're going to call it BSFC.

My second clue is  the team name options in the above mentioned poll. Lehigh Valley Steel FC? Lehigh Valley Blast? Steel SC? Those are actually the three other options for fans to vote for besides the "write in your own" choice.  Also two of the three mentioned names are clearly trying to piggyback off of the BSFC name anyway, the only one that isn't (Lehigh Valley Blast) is so absurd that any person that clicks that name and casts their vote should have a screen pop up that says, "Congratulations on waking up from your coma but it isn't 1996 anymore."

Lehigh Valley Blast sounds like a name that well meaning parents would name their kids' soccer team. I can just picture the logo, a soccer ball with a mean face on it accelerating away from an explosion with the words "Lehigh Valley Blast" in that font that you would see in custom made birthday cards you printed out from your home PC when you were a kid beneath it.

Also a "Write your own" option? Are any submissions from that part going to taken seriously? If by some miracle "Sack Sak FC" received the most write in votes would you seriously name the USL team that? Let's level with each other here, the write in votes go right into the trash.

My third and final clue and arguably the biggest one of them all is marketing and merchandising. The BSFC name carries with it a lot of history. History that can be used to make money. When the USL team was announced, I saw that people who weren't even fans of the Union said that they would purchase merchandise if the team was named BSFC. Yes guys, you are sitting on a potential goldmine in terms of marketing and merchandising. For example, the Union BSFC 3rd kit is still regarded by many fans as the best kit the Union have worn in their history to date and many (myself included) wish they had made it in replica because we would have bought it in a second.

But, to any hardcore fan of soccer history, BSFC is a name that inspires reverence and respect to the first "super" club in the United States. Is it "right" that name be mined to try and promote the Union who are arguably the worst club in Major League Soccer right now? Nope. But this is a business and we all know that dollar signs are already seen on the horizon. As for the history aspect, I notice that fans of the English Premier League aren't clamoring for Leeds United or Sheffield Wednesday to be in the Premier League because they must "honor" what those teams were at one time. History is fine, but the future must always be looked at.  I didn't hear this outcry when the Tulsa USL team named itself the "Tulsa Roughnecks" which violated the sacred name of the NASL team with the same name that existed from 1978 to 1984.

So in conclusion Philadelphia Union, drop the charade, stop pretending like you aren't already making the logo, planning the jerseys with the black and white coloring and planning the press release announcing how BSFC are "rising again."  Any person with any sense can easily see through what you're doing.  Personally, I feel that the reason for the fan vote is if people start complaining that the Union are using the BSFC name you guys can shrug and say, "Well, we put it to a vote and that's what the majority wanted." I know what you guys are thinking and anyone with any common sense knows what you're thinking. Just get it over with and announce it.

Because I want to order a jersey.


Matt Reppert