It’s been a busy week in soccer in Southern California, and one story that might have been off your radar: The NASL expansion team in Orange County officially has a name: California United Football Club.
The name, which was an open secret by the time it was announced and had been discovered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office applications earlier this summer, was announced with a pretty unusual press release explaining the name. Here’s the first 90 percent of it.
The word United is so common in the soccer world that it’s lost much of its meaning. But California United Football Club, one of the newest clubs in the North American Soccer League (NASL), has made it the watchword for their entire operation. The club, based in Orange County, intends to tap into the massive grassroots soccer fervor alive and thriving in Southern California.
The aim is to exemplify the word United not just through performances on the field, but from the ground up – from scouting to player-relations, backroom operations, front office and fan base.
“It seems like everyone out there is doing things the same way,” said Pete Capriotti, California United FC’s majority owner. A fair and straight-talking businessman with roots in Orange County, Capriotti has a passion for the beautiful game and sees in it the potential for a groundswell in Southern California and beyond. “We’re not trying to be a legacy club. We’re going to do things differently, and that will all grow from how we treat our players, putting them at the heart of everything we do here and creating opportunities for them.”
“The more we thought about who we are and what we want to achieve, the more we kept coming back to that word: ‘United,’” said President and General Manager Michael Collins, who played an integral part in the decision-making process that led eventually and organically to the name California United Football Club. And while the United in the new club’s name is paramount, the California shouldn’t be overlooked. The organization is eager to represent and embody all the Golden State’s essential qualities. A place where big dreams come true, the individual pursuit of excellence is held in high esteem and unbridled freedom creates the kind of opportunities that sharpen the cutting edge, California is a perfect place for an ambitious and forward-thinking club like Cal Utd.
The grand plan for California United FC, which will unveil its official logo and branding in the coming weeks, is to energize the soccer base in Southern California, creating a unique professional environment where the players come first. Among the club’s aims is an intense focus on player development and scouting, and building a bridge to the professional ranks for local talent who too often fall through the cracks and end up on the outside looking in.
“A lot of really talented players go off the rails because the support’s not there and life gets in the way,” added Collins, a former midfielder who blazed a trail through the American indoor and outdoor scene in the 1980s and 90s, earning a pair of caps with the U.S. National Team. “We want to find these players and give them a fair chance to recalibrate their careers and ambitions at our club.”
Cal Utd will work closely with their ever-growing network of local soccer clubs like the LA Wolves, the amateur powerhouse Capriotti has sponsored for the last two years, with the goal to identify players outside the traditional structure of the American soccer pyramid.
“We believe in promotion and relegation because it means the cream rises to the top,” said Capriotti, making it crystal clear that what Cal Utd hopes to be is well adrift of business as usual. “Absent of this system we have to do things differently to achieve similar results. This is why we want to create an organization with an open-door policy to the soccer community. We are taking our efforts to the base where soccer culture is vibrant, and truly resides. We’ll be the player-centric and community-oriented option, and we’ll give everyone an honest look. We want to help players fulfill their dreams, and we want local amateur clubs to benefit together with us in this combined endeavor.”
The hope is that with players like this in a top-class, day-to-day environment, Cal Utd can blossom into something more than just a professional sports team. Its aim is to be a club in the truest sense of the word.
“Our focus will be firmly on servicing the grassroots and giving access to the pro ranks,” said Collins. “There are too many stories of good players being overlooked and we want to stop this from happening at such a tragic rate. The best way to do this is to truly partner with the base, and that’s what Cal Utd will do. We’ll all be in the club together, unified by a common pursuit to find the best players and build the best team.”
The release got a fair bit of mockery on social media when it dropped, but it is fair to say that this is definitely a release that feels like it came from Southern California. It’s passionate, a bit winding, rather whimsical, so it fits the general culture to a certain extent.
The name did not go over well on social media either, with most finding the brand overly bland. While time will tell if the Cal Utd brand will resonate, there are two points to be made: Nearly all American soccer team names are going generic these days, and in that vein, Orange County SC and Orange County FC have both been taken already. So unless they were going to name themselves Fullerton FC or something of the like, in a region where Orange County is the local signifier, the default options were already unavailable.
As the release on the name states, the logo and other details about California United are due to drop in the coming weeks. We’ll let you know about the developments of the new NASL expansion team as they arise.
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