MLS, probably because of residual collective PTSD over 1996, has an underrated knack for creativity. Take, for example, these fun and funny LA Galaxy posters, created for, as near as I can tell, basically no reason.
I've given the new MLS logo 24 hours or so to sink in - and I'm torn. I feel like Walter White writing a list of the pros and cons of killing Krazy-8. I also feel like I should maybe watch another TV show at some point. I hear "The Wire" is good.
On the one hand, I think I understand what MLS was going for. What we have now is a league logo literally meant to blend into the background. It can change colors. It can merge seamlessly with 90's holdovers like the Revolution logo to the new corporate Earthquakes badge without missing a beat. It's a logo that doesn't want you to think about it too much.
But it's more complicated and confusing than, to pick a couple of examples completely at random, the Star of David or the Christian Cross. And I don't think that MLS actually has hopes that the Shield With a Tail will end up making the cultural impression of, to pick another example entirely at random, the swastika.
I chose the league logo combined with Chivas USA as a joke, because I'm all about cheap, easy laughs - but damned if the double-logo doesn't accomplish its mission. The league is lousy with nondescript badges for nondescript teams, and derivative badges for derivative teams - and this nondescript, derivative league logo, which makes the mark of the Episcopalian church look like a Dead Kennedys cover, makes every one of them stand out. The new logo is the Captain to your club logo's Tennille.
It's impressive, when you think about it. Think of all the dozens - literally dozens - of classic club badges in the world. From any sport. Now, mash them up with their league logo. Congratulations, you've made even the Green Bay Packers logo look stupid. MLS has come up with an unobtrusive - and in some cases, downright attractive - way to combine club and league symbols.
This comes at the cost of the league logo itself, which, to continue with the Breaking Bad comparison, will kill our entire family.
The logo's release was timed to coincide with a video game, and I think the logo was designed for video games more than a little bit in mind. It's easy to read at thumbnail size, and that stupid tail prevents you from confusing it with the shield of an Argentine team.
That's about all the positive things I can say about the standalone logo. It sinks to the level of its introduction, a word salad of corporate Newspeak that made Charles Krauthammer look like Peter Tosh. So many people have taken so many well-deserved potshots at the thing that, after a grand total of one day, making fun of it already seems played out. (Kenn Tomasch had one of the best parodies of the presentation: "One star for each minute we worked on this".) I defy you to read this, and not immediately throw a garbage can throw the window of a pizza restaurant:
Q: How does the new crest fit in and transcend the soccer world?
The shape of the new MLS brand takes inspiration from soccer crests, which are a traditional part of the game across the world. This enables us to point to soccer while also differentiating and redefining how a modern sports league is viewed.
As a result we have not merely evolved our current mark, but created a revolutionary expression that reflects the type of league we are today and where we want to go tomorrow.
And keep in mind that this boast is in some tiny bit true - integrating the league logo with team logos really is a first in world sports. But MLS couldn't just say that, could they?
"There's a blank space for the club logo."
"There's no ball and cleat because seven/eighths of the league have a soccer ball in their logo, because, you know, they're soccer teams and such, and we didn't want to beat it into the ground."
"We all like the classic NHL logo, but their new logo font looks kinda dumb now, especially if you tried to combine it with other clubs."
"We wanted a league logo that didn't mess up the look of the club jersey."
Would any of that have cost lives? We'll never know, I guess. What the league did do was roll this out soaked in pretentious blither that would have looked embarrassing on a Facebook ad, let alone a national sports league. "Revolutionary expression," for Christ's sake. MLS, the soccer league for people who hate soccer but love pop art.
Then again, MLS is trying to impress corporations, not people. (Insert Mitt Romney joke here.)
...that damned tail is going to haunt me. Is it supposed to make people think of an upward pointing arrow?