My kids tell me all the time, “no one cares about indoor soccer.” That’s nice. NOW LEAVE ME ALONE AND GO CLEAN YOUR ROOMS! And with that stellar introduction, I give you the Top 10 Not Great Indoor Soccer Nicknames.
10. Cincinnati Kids
One of the inaugural teams of the Major Indoor Soccer League, the first version, in 1978, the Cincinnati Kids were a decent team, posting an alright 16-8 record in the 6 team league. After their first season, they promptly folded. As a footnote in indoor soccer history, there only seems to be 2 items that stuck out about the Kids. One was their terrible nickname with an absurd back story. Supposedly the name came from an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati when Sparky Anderson guest starred. I read the story twice and still can’t figure out the correlation. The other is the fact that Baseball Hits Leader Pete Rose was one of the owners. Then he promptly signed the (then) biggest free-agent contract in baseball history in 1979 and bolted for the Philadelphia Phillies. I hope the poor 3,000 person per game Kids attendance didn’t factor into his financial decision making process.
9. Cleveland Crunch
One of the most successful teams in indoor soccer history and the 3-time champion of the defunct National Professional Soccer League, the only reason they’re not higher on the list is due to their success. If they didn’t have a slew of banners, their team would have the word association connotation of a candy bar.
Replacing the Cleveland Force in the hearts of indoor soccer fans in Northeast Ohio, the Crunch basically spent the 90’s in the indoor soccer playoffs. After MISL I dissolved, the Crunch (and the Wichita Wings) jumped to the NPSL. With MVP’s Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic leading the way, the Crunch was in the Championship Game 7 times over a 10 year span. Despite their success, as the calendar on the millennium turned, the team reverted back to their Force nickname in 2002.
8. Jacksonville Tea Men
The New England Tea Men were an outdoor soccer team in the NASL starting in 1978. For 3 years the team had lukewarm success on the field, but lost a cool million off the field. The New England Tea Men was not the best nickname, but it kind of makes sense, you know, because of the Boston Tea Party.
After taking a bath in red ink, ownership group Lipton Tea moved the team to Jacksonville, but refused to change their moniker because they didn’t want to lose any marketing tie-ins or even spend any more money on rebranding. The team played in both the NASL and NASL Indoor leagues for 2 years with limited success. Once being sold, the Tea Men did find some wins outdoors in the American Soccer League, winning the league’s last championship in 1983. The Tea Men dissolved for good in 1984 as Jacksonville’s first major professional sports team.
7. Connecticut Academia
In college sports, the term student-athlete is a farce, but the Athlete-Student? Of course that’s not the case, but what were they thinking when the American Indoor Soccer League was founded. Started in 2003 with only 6 teams, the Connecticut Academia only lasted 1 year in the league. The league eventually folded in 2008, but the Academia never did….
Somehow, someway the Academica Futebol Club parlayed itself into a Youth Development Academy in Meriden Connecticut. They stress fundamental soccer skills for kids and are considered one of the better skills academies in the Northeast. How much can you make fun of an indoor soccer team that turned into a youth development academy?
6. Massachusetts Twisters
Another inaugural team of the American Indoor Soccer League was the Massachusetts Twisters who played in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Maybe if they were the Massachusetts Tongue Twisters, it would be a better name, but Tornados and Massachusetts don’t really go together. Neither do the West Springfield Twisters.
Between the goals, the Twisters did pretty well, winning the AISL championship in 2007 and runners up in 2008. After the AISL folded in 2008, the Twisters joined the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL III), and promptly went a disastrous 1-17, averaging fewer than 500 fans a game, and then disbanded. With a population of under 30,000 on the Western end of the state, it may be a while before any pro sports return to West Springfield.
5. Detroit Ignition
At one time, Detroit was the automotive capital, but c’mon, why the Ignition? Why stop there? Why not the Detroit Brake Pads? The Detroit Relay Switches? Or even the beloved Detroit Automatic Transmission Fluid Injectors?
Started as an expansion team in 2006, the Ignition joined the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL II) and went straight to the finals. After MISL II folded in 2008, the Ignition joined the Xtreme Soccer League and won their championship in 2009. Then both the Ignition and the XSL folded. The team technically played in Plymouth, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, but even stranger, when researching this article, I found out the XSL wasn’t even a real sports league. I was amazed to read this at www.funwhileitlasted.net: “The gimmick of the XSL was that it was not really a league at all. It was a ‘new interactive sports lifestyle’ and a ‘12-month experience built around skilled soccer professionals, entertainment and fan participation – both live and online’….what all this embarrassing mumbo jumbo added up to here on Earth was that the players had to play some (Xtreme!) beach soccer exhibitions in the summer time.”
4. Chicago Vultures/Chicago Shoccers
In 1984 the American Indoor Soccer Association began to compete with the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL I) with the Chicago Vultures being one of the inaugural teams. But the MISL already had the Chicago Sting, which is kind of cool, so the AISA countered with the Chicago Vultures, which is kind of ...bleh. Apparently they realized this, and being the second rate team that they were, they inexplicably changed their name to the Shoccers after their first year.
Let me interrupt myself. All writers have pet peeves. Mine is merchandising with purposely misspelled words to seem ‘cool.’ If you’re Prince and you write Nothing Compares 2 U, that’s fine, he was a great artist. If you’re a struggling expansion team in a second rate league and you’re marketing your indoor soccer team to kids on the premise that you’re cool, you’re trying way too hard and failing.
I’m also looking at you too, Utah Freezz, Philadelphia KiXX, Norfolk SharX, etc.
3. California Cougars
If you’re into kitsch, maybe this was a good idea. The mental picture here is a bunch of sunbaked, leather-skinned divorcés running around in hot pants.
The Cougars joined the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL II) in 2005 and promptly sucked for 3 years. When MISL II folded, the Cougars jumped to the PASL and changed their name to the Stockton Cougars. On the field, the Cougars were the league champs, but the owners were rewarded with attendance falling from 5,000 a game to 2,500 a game. In 2010, the name reverted to the California Cougars, but attendance had fallen below the 800 a game mark and disintegrated. If you google California Cougars today, you get an amateur hockey association that draws about as well, if not better, than the indoor soccer team.
2. Detroit Neon/Detroit Safari
All I can say here is wow. The city of Detroit is over 80% African-American. You named your indoor soccer team the Safari. The depths of this bad idea, with its racial undercurrents are staggering. Of course I’m the jerk for pointing it out. The official story is that in 1993, there was a new indoor soccer league in town and its blueprint for success was to attempt to align itself with an NBA or NHL affiliate. The Continental Indoor Soccer League awarded a franchise to Detroit and through a sponsorship with the Chrysler Corporation the owners came up with the name the Detroit Neon. (Which, in itself, is a piss-poor nickname.) At least the minor league hockey team got a decent deal from Chrysler, becoming the IHL’s Detroit Vipers.
Then in 1997, the naming rights were sold to General Motors and the team was re-branded the Detroit Safari after the GMC Safari Minivan. Despite the glaring omission of clarity when naming the team, Neon-Safari games were fairly well attended, being in the top 5 in attendance every year the team existed despite catastrophic campaigns in 1995 (5-23) and 1997 (3-25). In 1998, the team, and the league, folded.
1. Waza Flo
Too close to Wazoo Flow, which is too close to diarrhea, guess where this team is located? Flint, Michigan, home of the contaminated Water Crisis of 2016. Basically the jokes write themselves.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Waza Flo began as the Detroit Waza Flo in 2008. What does Waza Flo mean? This is straight from their website. In Japanese, the word “Waza” means “technique” and in Swahili, “Waza” means “to think clearly”. Okay, but there’s no reference to what Flo means. And what the two words put together mean.
Let’s try to keep moving. The team started playing in suburban Plymouth, Michigan. Despite an average season on the field, the season could be considered a success when the Waza Flo won the U.S. Open Cup. (Which is a cup style tournament for arena soccer started in 2008.) The team was ‘rewarded’ by being moved closer to Detroit, to the Taylor Sportsplex. Eventually the team inched even closer to Detroit to the suburb of Melvindale as the team switched from the PASL to the Major Arena Soccer League and went 4-16. In 2015, the ownership group moved the team to Flint, Michigan and dropped the Detroit moniker. So the team is simply the Waza Flo with the carrot dangling in front of them that, maybe, one day, the team would eventually be the Flint Waza Flo if the city supports the team.
So technically their nickname is the Flo. Which lends itself to a whole other set of jokes.
Note: This article was updated and cleaned up on May 18, 2018.
The Waza Flo were back in MASL2 and finished 2-10.
....And they were back in Melvindale.