Trying way too hard: 10 of the silliest American soccer team names ever

The history of stateside soccer is littered with unusual, gimmicky and even outright ridiculous nicknames. Here are 10 of our favorites.

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Sometimes, the simplest name is the most effective. Just ask D.C. United or LAFC.

But some owners, like those of the recently-announced USL team Las Vegas Lights FC, feel the need to put a little – or a lot – more thought into their team names.

That’s not always for the best.

New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers (1993-98, USISL)

In a cool town with as much history as New Orleans has, it’s easy to get carried away (right, Pelicans?), so we’ll cut the Riverboat Gamblers a bit of slack on this one.

But for a team that employed the likes of Stern John, Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerway and lasted seven seasons in the USISL, you might think a more professional name would have been a preferable way to compete with the Saints. And while a riverboat gambler sounds cool in theory, do you want to go ahead and stick “gambler” right in your team name?

The Riverboat Gamblers eventually changed their name to the Storm in 1998 and folded in 1999.

Syracuse Salty Dogs (2003-04, A-League)

Everyone loves alliteration, right?

Taking name inspiration from the history of a city can be a great marketing decision; just look at the Sounders and Timbers.

But the short-lived Salty Dogs might have been fudging their ties just a bit.

Rather than sitting on the ocean – the theoretical home to their “salty dog” sailor namesakes – Syracuse’s upstate New York home was around 200 miles from the Atlantic.

The Salty Dogs were short-lived. They spent just one year in existence.

New Mexico Chiles (1990)

Had search engine optimization been a concept that existed before the turn of the century, the New Mexico Chiles would have had an even harder time. Go ahead, try Googling “New Mexico Chiles” and see how long it takes to find a soccer-related result.

Perhaps the worst part about the Chiles is that the franchise ran through so many more interesting ideas before it decided to shift to an inanimate pepper as its mascot. Between the Albuquerque Outlaws, the Albuquerque Gunners and the New Mexico Roadrunners, basically every other option on the table was preferable.

The franchise went through several different team names, and the Chiles lasted just one season.

Austin Sockadillos (87-94, SISL/SOSL/USISL)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Austin, Texas (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

A conversation that must have happened sometime in 1986:

“We need a good name for this new soccer team.”

“Well, we’re in Texas. We’ve got…armadillos?”

“Yeah, but armadillos don’t play soccer.”

“But if they did…”


“Right, but spelled with a ‘K.’ Because they’re edgy.”

The Sockadillos were tragically renamed the Lone Stars in 1994 after ten seasons. Now, only one glorious soccer-armadillo mashup remains in American soccer.

Cincinnati Kids (1978, MISL)

If you cringed a bit at the name of Pete Rose’s attempt to enter the soccer world, you aren’t alone.

That’s right, the Cincinnati Kids were partially owned by Major League Baseball’s controversial hit king. The team actually began play the same year Rose left the Cincinnati Reds, and could only muster one season in the MISL.

The good news is that their amazing promo video still exists.

NEXT: Five more of the oddest nicknames in American soccer history