Last night, in front of several hundred season ticket members at Union Market in Northeast DC, D.C. United officially revealed the new badge that will carry the franchise into 2016 and beyond. It was a glamorous event as the team and its ardent supporters ushered in a new era of the winningest franchise in Major League Soccer history. Now that we’ve all had a chance to sleep on it, let’s dive into it and take a closer look at the elements that the new refreshed badge incorporates.
The shield background remains on the new badge. However, the first major difference you will see is the size of the eagle has increased. The wings are mightier, more robust and bust out of the shield background, almost as if it’s trying to fly. The eagle’s torso is very slim, with rounded edges working down to the bottom of the shield to create what they call a more stable base. The eagle’s head faces to the right now, as it did in the original 1996 badge. The most recent badge had the eagle’s head facing to the left. The switch is a subtle change, but seems to want to draw the crest back to the team’s original roots as it looks forward towards the future of the club.
The D.C. United wordmark pops out of the top of the shield with black writing on a white background. The shield is bolder and more rounded, taking its cue from George Washington's family coat of arms. The font is different, a unique font created for the team, but that basic element carries over from the previous badge. That also means that the team’s name will remain the same, remaining the only team in the area to use D.C. instead of Washington in their official team name.
The second major difference you will notice is the reduction in the amount of red present in the crest. The previous badge was set on a red background with the D.C. United word mark on a white background. The new badge is set on a black shield background. The only red present in the new shield is located on, in my opinion, the best part of the refreshed logo: the element of the stars and bars from the flag of the District of Columbia located on the eagle’s torso. Adding the D.C. flag is an incredible touch, letting everyone know that the team represents the District of Columbia. You can’t have enough of the D.C. flag in my mind and this addition, replacing the soccer ball and the gold star that adorned the previous crest, is very welcome. As Dick Vitale would say, "Awesome with a capital A!"
There are a lot of people who are resistant to change, as the previous crest stood as a symbol for the tradition the club and its fans hang their hats on for 17 years. There are undoubtedly a group of fans that were against any changes to the crest and as a result probably aren't enamored with the new look. But, the overwhelming consensus of people at the unveiling at Union Market was very positive. The team unveiled the badge through an introductory video and afterwards had plenty of merchandise available for purchase. That line was very long with dozens of season ticket members happy to be among the first to own merchandise with the new badge.
My personal take? At first look, I liked it. After sleeping on it, I think I really like it. It is about as nice of a refresh as one could ask for: a modern take on the previous badge, incorporating the iconic D.C. flag and having many of the elements that we loved in the previous crest. The previous crest, with its mostly red background, really set well with the black primary jerseys. We now have seen a glimpse of how the badge will look on the 2016 primary jersey, and that just gets me more excited. I openly wondered if the badge's mostly black background would form more of a silhouette look when added to a mostly black primary jersey. It actually stands out quite well and I'm quite pleased with how it looks with this teaser look.
Fans of the Black & Red will have to hope that the new primary jersey features more red elements to maintain that popular color combination. In the end, this is a badge we can be proud of, and I feel we will all grow to eventually love this new crest.
Especially when we add that 5th star above it.