For some reason, talk among Major League Soccer-watchers always comes circling back to one thing: Real Salt Lake.
No, not the team — that would be too simple. Instead, people love to focus on the team name and the utter ridiculousness of it all. And sure, they have a point. “Real” as the prefix to a club name implies some power bestowed by a monarch. We don’t have that. Of course, the mock surprise surrounding that gets old, but I guess it is whatever it is.
But with all that, let’s shift the topic. Let’s talk about other team names, and let’s keep it in Utah. There’s a great history of soccer here, and even if it’s not quite to the same level as other places in the United States, it deserves celebration.
Ten great Utah soccer team names
1976, Utah Golden Spikers
Yeah, this is the one that immediately comes to mind. The Utah Golden Spikers were a member of the American Soccer League, and they played at the Utah State Fairpark grounds. They didn’t last even a full year, though, before the club president was charged with assault and the club folded. But still!
1976, Utah Pioneers
From the ashes of the Golden Spikers came the Utah Pioneers, and they didn’t last very long, either. They did some good work, lost in the playoffs to Tacoma Tides, and then they folded. Ho-hum.
One note: Dee Benson was a midfielder on that team. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s a senior United States District Court judge. The more you know, right?
1910: Utah Copper Soccerites
This is easily one of the greatest Utah team names to have existed. It reminds us of a rich mining history the state has (not that I’m particularly interested in mining, but it’s still a big part of that hole in the ground), and really, that’s all we need for this great story. The name floated around in the early parts of the 20th century.
1911: Arthur Rangers
Arthur isn’t a person’s name here — rather, it’s the place, Arthur. It’s now a ghost town. Even then, it hardly looked like the most exciting place to be.
But that’s cool, isn’t it? You don’t hear much about Arthur, Utah anymore. I wish we did.
1906: Salt Lake AFC
Tell me this isn’t the best kit you’ve ever seen. We need this kit. Give us this kit now.
Salt Lake AFC is further evidence that it wasn’t always “soccer” — but similarly, back in the early 1900s, they often called it “socker football” or “soccer football,” throwing us right back to the Association Football roots that begat the term.
I love it. we really do need more kits like this.
I’m not joking.
1940s: Germania A.C. (and others)
We’re into the mid-century by this point, and we get to Germania A.C. — this is a very Euro-centric name, but nobody seems to complain about that one now.
Some other names from that time period?
The Vikings, Hollanders, Danish, English and Benders.
BONUS! 1940s: Benders
This was a prison team. Cool!
1990: Salt Lake Sting
A professional team! We had several professional teams, actually. This was a good one, but they have a familiar story. Playing in the American Professional Soccer League, they started in 1990, and they folded in... 1991. Hmm.
Salt Lake Blitzz
USL CHAMPIONS. TWICE.
The Salt Lake Blitzz lasted for more than two years, which was victory itself, but they actually were playoff champions twice-over, and they finished atop the western conference in four consecutive years. They later folded when Real Salt Lake came to town.
I love Salt Lake Blitzz, but that name? Man.
2003: Utah Salt Ratz
What is a Salt Ratz? It doesn’t sound good.
You might know someone that played for the Salt Ratz. They were in National Premier Soccer League. In 2003, they finished atop the western conference. In 2004, they folded, but we will forever remember them for having the single weirdest name in Utah soccer history.