When the U.S. takes on England this Saturday in the World Cup, it will arguably be at a disadvantage on talent, despite gifted players like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. But it will certainly be at a disadvantage when it comes to the team nicknames. England’s is the Three Lions, a nod to the country’s official Coat of Arms. In 1996, the team even adopted “Three Lions” as its official song. Instead, I’ll be pulling for USMNT, which, unfortunately, doesn’t stand for Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the altogether bland “Men’s National Team.”
Ghana has the Black Stars. Algeria will be pulling full their Desert Warriors. In Spain, they watch La Furia Roja. Even teams that didn’t make the World Cup this year outpace us in the nickname department: the Czech Republic’s Locomotive, Trinidad & Tobago’s Soco Warriors, Angola’s Black Impalas. Hell, I’d even settle for Benin’s Squirrels.
“Yanks” has been bandied about over the years, but that’s what others call us, not what we call ourselves (and us Southerners still think Yanks are the people who pretend they can drive in snow without salt on the roads). Stars & Stripes is the military’s newspaper (and a wrestling tag team). Nigeria’s players are the Super Eagles, trumping whatever we might do there—would you rather be “super” or “bald”?
There’s only one animal that makes sense to me. The largest land mammal in North America—the American Bison, or the buffalo. Tough and majestic. The most important creature to many of our land’s first human inhabitants. I’d pull for the Buffaloes. But I’d pull for them if they were the Chipmunks, the Jedi Knights or, like UC Santa Cruz, the Banana Slugs. Anything would be better than USMNT. Send me your suggestions in the comments below or @joshjackson. This team deserves a name.
Note: some suggestions that have come over the Twitter wire include The Colbert Crew, Chuck Norris and The Three Lion Killers.