New crest, New Era for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds

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PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 17: Pittsburgh Riverhounds fans cheer during the 2015 U.S. Open Cup against the D.C. United at Highmark Stadium on June 17, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Editorial (February 18, 2018) – Ever since the first fish climbed out of the sea and decided to live on land, things have adapted and evolved. Mammals outlasted dinosaurs. Cars became more practical for transit than horses. And Facebook has pretty soundly defeated Friendster.

A New Crest and a New Era for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds

American Soccer is rapidly evolving, too. The kitschy soccer emblems and mascots that were en vogue at the turn of the millennium are dying off, one by one, as teams try to become sleeker, cleaner, and more global in their aesthetic.

Add the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to the list of clubs with a sleek rebrand. The club created a new crest and added ‘SC’ (for ‘Soccer Club’) to the end of their name to signify that they had moved into a new era in the club’s history. The old crest, a sideways profile of a cartoon-like mutt, had served as the club’s avatar in some form since 1999, when the team was founded. The team’s colors in that first crest were red and black, before evolving to blue and black.

The new crest is black and gold, the semi-official color combo of all of Pittsburghs sports teams, bringing the team firmly in line with the rest of the city’s sporting tradition. It combines a variety of Pittsburgh-y elements: the look of the girders from the Fort Pitt bridge; waves underneath the crest; a soccer ball and a dog’s paw; the date of the club’s founding.

Altogether, the composition is solid, if not a bit busy. It certainly is more professional and in line with modern soccer aesthetics in America than the hound logo. To my tastes, it might have been better had they followed an old adage from women’s fashion accessorizing: take one last glance in the mirror before you leave the house, and whatever catches your eye, get rid of it. By that I mean that perhaps the kit is a touch too busy; maybe it would have been better with just a circle or just a shield, instead of a circle with a shield in it. Maybe waves or a bridge girder might have worked. Maybe the founding date isn’t essential.

Still, overall, I dig it. It is a marked improvement over the old one, and establishing the teams colors with greater certainty is going to be good for the brand, without any doubt.

Modern soccer rebrands have, overwhelmingly, been a success. In MLS, the Dallas Burn became FC Dallas in 2004 in a welcome move away from having your team be associated with the physical symptoms of an STD. And the Columbus Crew dropped the ‘three workmen’ logo in 2014 and became ‘Crew SC.’ That move made the team seem more serious and slick, although if they end up moving to Austin, maybe in hindsight dropping tens of thousands on a graphic arts redesign won’t seem like such a great idea.

In the USL, the Carolina Railhawks became North Carolina FC. Their new moniker and logo are much improved, but I still needed to google where in the state they actual play their matches (it’s Cary, NC; right in between Raleigh and Durham). More recently, the Harrisburg Islanders became Penn FC. Their old logo of palm trees made next-to-zero sense in a non-tropical part of the country. Their new logo is simple, but also contains some odd graphics and a funky letter ‘P’ that looks less like the aforementioned letter than it does a snake trying to find a highway onramp.

Regardless, of whether you love or are ambivalent of the new crest, the intent is clear and laudable: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC wants to make a clean break from the club’s losing ways of the past two seasons. This new logo is a great step in that direction.

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