Voices: Sam Jones

Ranking the top 5 scariest mascots in MLS

I’ve been asked to do service journalism. I’m here to let you know which MLS mascots you’d rather not come across in a dark alleyway. Not because they’re going to hurt you or anything. They’re probably going to do something delightful and entertaining. We’re talking about professionals here. But because I, like many of you, am frightened by their general appearance.

To be very clear, all mascots are terrifying. A lion with thumbs and the ability to walk on two legs? Apex predator. A sentient train with a soccer ball face? Apex predator. A human-sized snake with arms? Cool guy. Also, an apex predator. Any oversized animal or anthropomorphic inanimate object that appears to have a grasp of human entertainment values and languages while saying no words itself is plotting, planning and waiting. For what? Probably to play the most dangerous game. Or to like, I don’t know, overcharge to show up at your nephew’s birthday party. Either way, a menace.

But since I technically can’t assume too much more about their motives without being sued for what someone told me is called “libel”, we need to operate the rest of the way believing that the mascots are operating in good faith. Here to do nothing more than entertain us.

That being said, they still frighten me. And since we’re deep into an international break, starving in a desert of content, the powers that be have let me rank the mascots in MLS I’m personally most frightened by.

I’ve done extensive research here. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve had a Google Doc open entitled “MLS Mascot Pics (not weird)” and I’ve been assessing the minute details of every known MLS mascot. Though the differences separating them are marginal at best, I believe I’ve come up with a definitive top five.

HOWEVER. I want to be very, very, very clear here. Nothing. Nothing. Haunted me like this grainy found footage of an unofficial mascot supporting the New York Red Bulls.

Red Bull man

There’s also this guy associated with RBNY’s sister club.

I don’t think it’s all that scary. I just wanted to let you know because it probably just hit on your partner right now. Like literally right now. Probably convincingly too. I’d go check if I were you. You may want to hurry. Ah geez, they might already be gone, bud, sorry.

Very important notes

Mascot feature - Gary The Lion FC Cincinnati
  • All of this has reminded me that MLS is a good soccer league.
Slyde - New England Revolution

Yes, we have a three-way tie for fifth. “Top-eight” sounds dumb and, frankly, I couldn’t distinguish these three.

Anyway, New England have a group of people who dress in Revolutionary War attire and shoot off muskets after each Revolution goal. I chose Slyde over them for this list. They frightened me less than this judgy. as. heck. fox.

Mascot feature – Slyde New England Revolution

Slyde is constantly questioning everything you do. Everything. He can’t stop questioning. Nothing you do is good enough for Slyde. You go take the milk out of the fridge? Slyde is sitting there. Looking at you. Making you wonder how you could possibly have messed up getting milk out of the fridge. The worst part is that you start to believe him. Slyde is on the list for being the worst part about going home to our parents' houses.

Also because he may not even be the rightful heir to the New England animal mascot throne. There are loyal supporters of Nutsy the Squirrel still out there fighting.

Rapid Man - Colorado Rapids

Never, ever, ever trust the guy at your gym who looks like he’s been photoshopped but swears he’s natty. And never ever, ever trust the guy who never takes off his sunglasses. They don’t want you to see their eyes for a reason. Eyes are the window to the soul. 

If one person is both at the same time? Well…

Mascot feature - Rapid Man Colorado Rapids
Talon - D.C. United

I know what you are now, Talon.

Mascot feature - Talon D.C. United

But you can’t outrun your past.

Talon DC United old
Kingston - Orlando City SC

Being able to look like you might be willing to eat someone at a moment's notice AND be the lead dancer in an extremely outdated flash mob prank is a special kind of frightening for me. I don’t know whether things are about to turn into a NatGeo documentary or an installation in the “Step Up” film series. The uncertainty is what puts you deeply on edge. But, somehow, this isn’t the Lion mascot that takes my highest ranking. Why? Well…

Leo the Lion - Real Salt Lake

I mean…

Spike - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Mascot feature - Spike Vancouver Whitecaps

Behold. A bird mascot so angry at the world for being too large to fly that its fury cannot be hidden behind faux compliance with societal standards. It will not smile just to belong to polite company. It is far, far too pained by its very existence. “Unmake me,” it says to the creator. But it’s too late. So it must lash out. By attempting to swallow as many children as it can.

Yet it fails to do so. Because its mouth was not made wide enough. And for that, Spike will stay angry.

Sir Minty - Charlotte FC

I looked, and behold a pale soccer ball: the face that sat on him was “Sir Minty”, and hell followed with him. And power rankings were given unto them over the rest of the season, so as to avoid the consequences of angering the beast of the earth.