Fan Culture / Featured

The Snakes: Why not?

So let’s change the subject.

That’s right. Today, we’re not going to talk about how secretive the Philadelphia Union regime is, what the real numbers are on the books against the salary budget, how the club is going to score goals without Sebastien Le Toux, or the various things in life that the ever nebulous allocation money cannot buy you. We won’t propose that Edward Scissorhands become Dan Borislow’s surprise new proctologist, and we won’t mourn the loss of a season’s worth of Tasha Kai appearances. (OK, we will, but it’ll be quiet.) To take it further, we won’t even ponder who the unnamed Union trialists are (because we have the great new drinking game known as “Name That Trialist!” which comes complete with camera, Internet, and two shot glasses as you try to identify the Union trialist who might some day get deported to Siberia or Trinidad).

Nope! We’re going to change the subject to something happier, more inane, but equally interesting. And that’s this:

No, this logo does not represent the Electricians Union.

Why hasn’t the nickname “Snakes” caught on for the Union? 

Come on. It never struck you that the Union logo was designed in part with that in mind?

Sure, I get where “Philadelphia Union” comes from, the union of the states.

Admittedly, when I first heard the name, my reaction was, “You’re naming the team after Philadelphia’s unions? Great, they’re going to be a bunch of thugs at political rallies, their coach will have a colorful nickname like ‘Johnny Doc,’ and the stadium construction crews will strike on a regular basis, resulting in PPL Park never getting built.”

Eventually, the name grew on me, and me and my history degree had to like the reference back to that classic 1754 Ben Franklin cartoon from the Pennsylvania Gazette. These days, many would agree that Philadelphia Union is one of the best team names in the league, even if most people don’t know whether to call them “Philadelphia Union” or “the Philadelphia Union.”

Join, or Die.

How do Delawareans feel about Ben Franklin's classic cartoon omitting Delaware (and Georgia)?

But putting the snake into the Union logo? A clear stroke of marketing and artistic genius. Perfect symbolism, and a built-in nickname waiting to happen.

And … still waiting.


Could it be that Philadelphia Union translated to “the Union,” so they didn’t need another nickname?

Would it have caught on more if there was no “the Union” and the team had no shorthand name, like Toronto FC?

Did it seem so obvious that the contrarians otherwise known as American soccer fans actively chose not to go for it?

Beats me.

So I’m asking you: Why not?

Why not the Snakes?

(You have to admit: This is better than dwelling on last week’s absolute train wreck. I’m trying to distract you and make you think happy thoughts. So … think happy thoughts.)


  1. Because Snake is lame. Not as lame as DOOP, but still plenty lame. Snake is the kinda nickname someone gives themselves when they want people to think they are tough. You know, That guy, the one who gets one tattoo of a tribal or whatever tattoo is considered tough at the moment and is always talking shit.

    He wants to be called snake. desperately.
    Do you want your team to be like that guy?

    Oh and don’t hate on Unions. OK?

  2. Because it’s STUPID.

  3. Speaking of DOOP, since it was that idiot Nowak’s idea, I think we should stop DOOPing.

  4. Nicknames just happen and Zolos def just happened. It was 2010 dumbass! I thing Zolos is an excellent nickname with a great story!

    • True! Best nickname, no doubt, because of the story is behind it. The SoBs actually have a team in the Casa league called SoB Zolo.

  5. I did recently have to explain to an elderly friend of my mother in law that I was not a member of a “union”. I was once unaware of the history of “Doop” as it pertained to Nowak etc. However I embraced the heritage of the song once I was properly educated. Right or wrong a branding strategy needs time more then anything to develop. I don’t think we need yet another nick name at this time. But at least we are not named after an energy drink!

    • @jon – yea, i had to explain doop to a friend of mine who didn’t watch soccer and wondered why it was all over my facebook statuses. He then told me that we were only just over a year old and didn’t deserve to have a celebration song yet – much akin to fly eagles fly. I then frowned upon society once more.

      • Dan, I guess at my age I can no longer frown upon society, having had it frown upon me for so long. I have been involved in numerous volunteer groups, rugby teams and other social and sporting clubs. There is always one constant in all of theses groups….Change. People grow up, lifestyle changes occur, kids, jobs, lack of jobs, changes in hierarchy etc. One group is always pushing their agenda against the status quo and vice versa. None of these things are bad, they are just fact. My hope is that inclusion for those willing to help regardless of classification wins out. I have seen organizations fail when they seem to only grasp the current trend while ignoring the history and or the future.

      • Doop is soooooooo…. Forced.
        Well it started as forced, then over marketed now it is just plain played out.

        If Doop was just a celebration song I could learn to live with it. but fucking doop everything makes me wonder why the hell I am breathing.

      • Hahaha I didn’t want to say anything, but true that…now people at games talk about “wanting to doop,” they’ve been “so looking forward to doop.” It’s getting tired.

        That said, it’s totally inseparable from the culture at this point, it’ll stick around for years.

  6. Slow news day is slow…

    By the way, Josue Martinez got a fluff piece from the union. he’s practically out the door, he’s now on the top of the Union Roster Death Watch…. which, why hasn’t one of the blogs done this yet?

    • Why do you say that? Haven’t heard a peep about him leaving. He just got here and the management had apparently been chasing him for more than a year.

      • He’s being sarcastic…The Union front office has a nasty habit of getting rid of players who have said how happy they are in Philadelphia and who have expressed their desire to stay with the Union…see “Orozco-Fiscal, Michael” and “Le Toux, Sebastien”

  7. Great stuff Dan. How about we name them the Commodores, if the get enough points to get to the playoffs. Now that is a BIG IF. If they end up at the bottom of the table, Snakes should do it.

  8. I wouldn’t mind having a secondary nickname like the snakes. It makes more sense than FC Dallas calling themselves “the hoops” because of their jersey style, or the Red Bulls being called “the metros” because of their taste in clothing (or their former name; I can’t remember which). Then again, this is coming from someone who supports a team nicknamed the Toffees, which may be the least fear-inspiring name of all time.

  9. Because it’s awful idea.

  10. Josh T. of Kensington says:

    Someone tell me the story of Zolos. Philly Unions are very Philly- and I’m part of one. There were some bad years tho.

    • At the “Meet the Owners” event held two days before the official expansion press conference in Chester, the Sons of Ben wore nametags with handwritten numbers intended to read “2010.” The number was mistakenly interpreted as “ZOLO” by team ownership group member, Nick Sakiewicz. This led to Philadelphia Union being referred to as the “Zolos” in a series of inside jokes by the group.

  11. Snakes is plain lame, and so is forcing traditions. Just let it happen and stop crying about Le Toux…Business is business in all likely hood it was a good deal of allocation money. I’m pumped for whatever comes out this season but let’s stop complaining about how bad you think we are going to be. People did that for the Flyers and they are competing pretty damn well… Sixers are young and balanced and in first place…what are you all going to be writing about when Mwanga or Adu or even Martinez is outscoring Le Toux. Just get over it.

  12. I’m not a fan of “Snakes”; it’s mostly because it’s just there in the logo and doesn’t really appear anywhere else. Zolos is brilliant because it was organic and really predated the club itself, and it’s unique.

  13. Zolos…can’t have two nicks

  14. Further I do like the idea of nicknaming the manager something like “Petey No Shoes”

  15. If Red Bulls fans get a hold of this and start calling us Snakes I’m gonna be pissed. The only acceptable – and the only professional one I can think of off the top of my head – nickname involving snakes is Diamondbacks. Maybe Rattlers or something to that affect, but not just “Snakes”. Zolos is original and accidental, and that’s the best kind. I like the distraction though.

    • Ha! Pink Cows vs. Snakes — Who wins that? Ok, so yeah, nobody, but at least it wouldn’t be Pink Cows. 😉 It’d be entertaining, like most of the comments on this post.

  16. It doesn’t surprise me to hear Philadelphia sport fans wasting time discussing things like team nicknames. The heart of this six year old program is not a nickname, its management. And once again another Philadelphia sports venue is owned and lead by idiots.

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