As D.C. United seeks to improve its infrastructure with the completion of Audi Field and the construction of a new training facility in Loudoun County, it also is beginning the process of fielding a reserve team in USL. The team, which will take the name Loudoun United, is expected to begin play next season, hosting most of its matches at a 5,000-seat stadium that will be a part of the training facility. As we learn more details about the new USL side over the coming weeks and months, one question that the Black-and-Red should hopefully be finalizing is the color schemes that the team will use.
We got a sneak peak at the possible crest for the team through filed trademark applications, but since the crest is in black and white, questions remain over which direction the team will take. The team can craft the identity of its USL team in one of two ways. It can treat it like a MLS 2 team, where the color scheme and jerseys are the same as the parent club. We see this in USL with teams like LA Galaxy II, Seattle Sounders 2, Portland Timbers 2, New York Red Bulls II, Toronto FC II, and Atlanta United 2. The other way is to create a separate identity for your USL club, maybe with a similar color scheme but with something that separates it from the parent club. Examples of this include Swope Park Rangers (Sporting Kansas City), Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake), Bethlehem Steel FC (Philadelphia Union), and the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (Houston Dynamo), which operates under a hybrid partnership.
One thing that D.C. United should do is implement elements of the Loudoun County flag. The flag is essentially a red and white pinwheel with green wheat symbols (symbolizing the county’s agricultural industry) and a green border with white-silver milk drops, a link to Loudoun’s dairy industry. The flag itself would look terrific on the back neck of the jersey. There’s also the opportunity to have jerseys with a color scheme that combine the Black-and-Red of D.C. United with the red, green and white of the county flag.
It’s possible that the team could just designate United’s primary and secondary jerseys as the jerseys of the USL team, with the Loudoun United crest replacing the D.C. United crest and the county flag on the back neck instead of the coordinates of Audi Field. Still, the team could really take the opportunity to give Loudoun United its own identity, with green, white and red the focal colors and black trim to link back to the parent club. A primary jersey can take on many forms to implement Loudoun County’s colors: red with green trim and white numbers; green with red and white trim and white numbers; a green jersey with red shorts and white socks all with black trim; red jersey with green trim and white numbers with black shorts and white socks; or even black jersey with red and green elements with red shorts and black socks. There are endless options to marry the two identities to create something unique for Loudoun United.
Even if you simply have the USL team incorporate D.C. United’s jerseys as their own, there’s still a chance to have elements that separate Loudoun slightly from D.C. It could be a great marketing opportunity to cater to the soccer fans in one of the most affluent counties in America that associate more with the county they live in than the nation’s capital they live near. They may have a similar name, but that doesn’t mean that the franchise needs to play it safe in simply linking visually to the parent club down the road. Hopefully, D.C. United can show some boldness in allowing Loudoun County to go the way of Swope Park Rangers in representing the area rather than the parent club.