There is a remarkable (worrying?) amount of MLS ink out there. Some of it comes out of love, some of it comes out taking a deep breath and committing. to. the. bit. and some of it comes from drunken bets and misguided Tweets. Yes, I recognize that “misguided tweets” is redundant. I should know. A short-sighted bet with the internet is how I ended up with my MLS tattoo.
That being said, it seemed like a good idea for the sake of public service and for the sake of those who’ve already gone under the needle to see that they aren’t alone.
And we're truly not alone. Just recently, MLS Cup MVP winner Lucas Zelarayan became one of the club's most high-profile members when he recently showed off the ink he got to mark Columbus Crew's MLS Cup victory in 2020.
So we’ve collected just a handful of the MLS tattoos that exist out there for your viewing pleasure.
We’re almost definitely just scratching the surface here. There are far, far more out there amazingly enough. And it’s a testament to the communities the sport builds that people feel close enough to its teams to attach themselves to them permanently.
By the way, not a single person said they regretted getting their tattoo. Not one.
Chris - Fairhope, Ala.
“My daughters actually surprised me with it for my birthday in the summer of 2018. I've been a season ticket holder since 2016. Friends thought I was crazy ... family thought I was an idiot ... BUT no one denied the quality of the work.
Roger - Columbus, Ohio
“The building is the LeVeque Tower in downtown Columbus, usually the most defining part of our skyline. The bridge is actually an arch. As the "Arch City," you can find those arches over our streets (usually in the Short North arts district downtown).
“I decided to get this after the Crew were saved, as this was the main logo that the #SaveTheCrew movement used. It was designed by one of my friends, and I moved to Columbus specifically to be a part of this soccer community, so to go through everything and come out the other side with our club intact, I wanted something to remember it forever.
After having it for a while, the only regret I have is that I put the star above the crest. Since we won a second Cup in December, it's now out of date”
Chris - Atlanta, Ga.
“I think that in many ways United stands for what Atlanta is & can be. It's truly amazing to see so many different people, different ethnicities, to hear different languages and yet we are all together to do the same thing: Support our team. In my experience, it has been an amazing thing to be part of and that unity is something we need now more than ever.
“Atlanta is part of who I am and I am proud to rep my city and my team. I love Miggy's quote because it's how I feel about the team & my city. I want to count on you. I want to believe in you.”
Matt - Seattle, Wash.
“Getting it was sort of random. I have a couple hundred hours with my same tattoo artist so sometimes we just play around with stuff, and she was working on a Mardi Gras piece on my leg and mentioned it started to look like Celine Dion. So I say, imagine THIS GUY with a Celine tattoo.
This was like March. Sounders were no good in preseason, so I just sort of threw on Twitter 'If the Sounders win anything of note, I'll get a Celine Dion tattoo to commemorate it.' Months later, playoffs, I was reminded. We were on a tear. Uh oh. So of course It happened we win MLS Cup of all things
My friends and family love it. Find it hilarious. I've had job interviews where people ask me about it. People ask to see it a lot when they realize I'm that dude. It definitely gets shown at Sounders matches a lot.
Celine Dion saw it and was confused by it. Access Hollywood put me on (they did not air the awkward interview or 'what's my favorite Celine song' once they realized I wasn't really a fan persay
The only other time it comes up is there are a LOT of random articles online in a bunch of languages. Had french media reach out like a year later, Celine fansites, just random people in internet land finding it over the years.
DJ - Atlanta, Ga. YYYY
“I grew up going with my dad to get his tattoos but it took me a long time to really figure out what I wanted and not regret it. Going with my dad to get his I kind of adopted his outlook on it which is that you are advertising to people who you are as a person, your interests and hobbies, maybe religion. It’s you giving the world to see who you are without you saying it.
“I knew my first tattoo would be Star Wars but what gave me the idea to do the combo was a writer from Dirty South Soccer compared Atlanta to the First Order and I thought that was awesome.
“The last six-to-seven years have been rough for me and the fam just like everyone else out there, but having United as an escape has been awesome. So I’ll always have a special connection to the team.”
Aron - Toronto, Ont.
“When TFC was paying really well in 2017, I was at one of the games with my friends and I said 'If they win the treble, I'll get them all tattooed on me.' We joked about it and seeing some crazy ones that some United fans have. They won it all, so I did what I said would do. The only thing I regret about it is that I don't have a picture of me and the Shield...yet.
“My friends thought I was nuts for doing it, my wife didn't think it was a good idea either. I have a really good artist that I used and we came up with the designs that are clearly the trophies but also not just an image of the trophy. Once it was done my wife liked it. I'm used to having them and have no regrets at all. We do joke about what I will do when TFC win the cup again, and it's always a good conversation starter at games or the pub (back when those existed). My mom hates them, but she just hates all my tattoos.”
Christian - Atlanta, Ga.
“I got the King Peach near the end of the 2018 regular season because I just wanted to get a United tattoo, and for the other, I had a deal with a buddy to get one if we won the cup — which became the Outkast tattoo.
“I love having them. I've never had such a connection to or an experience with a sports franchise like this before, so I consider myself to be a billboard of sorts for Atlanta United and I'm more than proud to show them off.”
Ryan - Ashburn, Va.
“I’d been going to D.C. games for a while at this point, and anyone who had similarly gone to D.C. games for any extended stretch of time in the 2000s was aware of the drama that D.C. went through to try to get a stadium; D.C. were going to have a stadium in D.C., Maryland and Virginia at various points.
“So when D.C. having a stadium in D.C. transitioned from concept to reality, I thought it was something I wanted to get. It was a combination of the friendships I’ve made and kept by going to games home and away, of the memories made and the games experienced.”
Josh - Atlanta, Ga.
“I decided to get it because of the impact Atlanta United has had on me. I wasn’t really into soccer before they started in 2017, but I quickly fell in love. I started watching other teams and games outside of Atlanta, and then I actually began playing soccer for the first time in my life. Playing the game is an escape for me and helped me through a tough time in my life, so I wanted to get something to remind me of the effect Atlanta United made on my life.”
Luke (snake) and AJ (DOOP) a.k.a. The Doopy Brothers - Philadelphia, Pa. and Fredricksburg, Va.
“We both have wanted to get them for a while. We’re huge Union fans so it wasn’t a hard decision to decide to make it a permanent fixture on my body. We both wear Union gear almost all the time so it didn’t seem out of place. We wanted to do it together so went for my birthday last January. Friends and family weren’t surprised that we did it, our Union fandom is very evident to anyone that knows us. For me, after having it for a year, I feel really good about it. My connection to the team seems to strengthen every year so no regrets at all. The Union also had a pretty great year (considering everything) so that definitely helps make me feel good about the tattoo now.
Jeff - Minneapolis, Minn. (for more on DOGSO, head here.)
“I still get a few people doing that thing dogs do where they tilt their head to the side when they're confused. For the most part, it makes people laugh and a couple of my colleagues (Pablo Maurer and Meg Linehan) have also gotten DOGSO [all caps] tattooed on their arms. It's one of my favorite pieces I've gotten — and it helps remind me to find the levity in this game.”
Toni - Toronto, Ont.
“I was lucky enough to be there at BMO when they won and I wanted to commemorate it in a way that the moment would be with me forever. As a huge fan, there’s not many moments that top seeing than win at BMO.
“My family didn’t say much about it despite being pretty old-school minded. This wasn’t my first tattoo so they couldn’t really bother me much about it. My friends however they liked it. They know how much the team means to me. I’ve had it for almost three years now & honestly I still love it. Every time I look at it puts a smile on my face.”
JC - Toronto, Ont.
“This one I got before we won a chip. Honors the legend Danny Dichio, the Miracle in Montreal (1-6 score) and my supporters' club. Picture doesn't do it justice.
“I promised myself I would wait either until a title or 10 years, in case the club didn't survive. So in the 10th year I wanted a tattoo, didn't know of what. My artist thought of the style and asked for what elements of my support were important to me. She came through, 17 hours in the chair though. It represents the first 10 years so well, the struggle, with fleeting moments of pure joy.”
Steve - Ottawa, Ont.
“I had been wanting to get a TFC tattoo for a while. I tweeted that if Toronto beat Independiente in their 2019 CCL match I'd get a tattoo to celebrate. When they lost (best and coldest soccer game ever by the way) somebody suggested that I just get it. So I did.
“I’ve had it for a year plus and still love it. I think it works well on my leg and looks sick when I sit down in the summer.”
Thomas - Atlanta, Ga.
“I have three loves when it comes to soccer that I’d die for. My country, my ancestral homeland — Manchester, England — and the city of my birth and home Atlanta. I had planned the US and MAN tattoo earlier, but in 20115 when Atlanta United was announced I knew I had to wait. So I waited until the logo release party at Compound to decide on the layout. I took all three kits (each a special one to me) representing the three clubs to Mike, laid out the design with the US on top, followed by ATLUTD then MAN as they were in order from proximity to my heart.
“My family thought I was insane for spending 12 hours under the needle and spending over $1500 but after the first year of winding up on build boards, Marta banners, The NY Times and assorted other ads and promotions they saw the passion I had and the support from the community and club to fuel that passion. I wake up every day still, three years later loving every inch of my ink."