What is the most iconic look in Canadian club soccer? Does one crest or logo have a New York Yankees or Barcelona kind of timelessness to it?
Perhaps Canada Soccer’s branding comes the closest, considering the ball-and-leaf logo has had a rather surprising run, now into its fourth decade as the crest Canadian players dream of one day wearing.
On the club side, a few notable brands come to mind. Across the NASL, MLS, and now CPL, there are plenty of crests and wonderful logos worth celebrating (let’s face it, a lot of them came from the NASL).
With this in mind, we decided to find the best club logo. We quickly weeded out contenders like Toronto FC (somehow busy and bland) and Montreal Olympique (it’s just a globe?) and eventually found a winner.
Here are CanPL.ca’s top ten Canadian professional soccer crests.
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10. Toronto Metros-Croatia (NASL) – 1975-1979
is this a good logo? pic.twitter.com/Qr8h7TOY3Q
— Marty Thompson (@martythompson_) May 7, 2020
Once worn by Portuguese legend Eusébio, this Toronto Metros-Croatia insignia is as wacky, strange, and oddly charming crest. Metros-Croatia won the 1976 NASL Soccer Bowl before changing its name to the Toronto Blizzard.
As far as the crest goes, the double-barrelled team name makes for an unbelievable word mark, perfect to splash across the front of a kit in the 1970s. You wouldn’t catch that on a kit in any other decade, and we love it for that. Is that Toronto City Hall in the word mark? Also, what is going on with the big “Os”?
9. Thunder Bay Chill (USL2) – 2000-Present
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USL League Two side Thunder Bay Chill offers one of the most unique logos in Canadian soccer. Its inner oval shows the polar bear emerging from a frozen lake – with a soccer ball in hand – in an ensemble that somehow doesn’t feel as dated as other early-2000s logos. “Chill” arrives in cursive, calming the nerves of observers who find the bear awfully life-like.
8. Montreal Manic (NASL) – 1981-1983
That kit ??
The one & only Tony Towers, Montreal Manic (1981-83) #MontrealManic #NASL pic.twitter.com/Rd60rYZJDY
— Football Back Then ⚽️?⚽️ (@FootballThen) April 16, 2020
Calling Olympic Stadium home in the early 1980s, the Manic fielded an impressive team featuring Canadian national team legend Dale Mitchell, and ex-Manchester City and England midfielder Tony Towers. Their jerseys were equally impressive, matching the futuristic Big O with a space-like “M” logo. Those streaks made for fantastic flourishes on kits, too.
This crest has proven to have staying power. A local Montreal academy recently adapted its branding. Word is the Manic logo was featured at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa for a time, too.
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes the Montreal Manic Football Academy is reborn #soccer #soccerquebec #futballer @TonyMarinaro @mitchgarber @AlexanderBunbu1 @CTVMontreal @Global_Montreal @HunterZThompson pic.twitter.com/KOFslS7Lbn
— Montreal Rangers FC (@Consensio1) May 5, 2020
7. Cavalry FC (CPL) – 2018-Present
Somehow, a crest designed in 2018 feels like one of the most classic badges here. It’s long been said that most of the best logos are those that a child could draw by hand, and Cavalry’s crest is maybe the only one here for which we could truly say that.
It’s simple, it’s clean, and it’s recognizable in both red and green. The old-fashioned football at the bottom works well with the rest of the timeless design, as does the clever horseshoe doubling as the C in Cavalry. It’s perhaps not as out there (especially in terms of shape) as some of the other CPL badges, but Cavalry has a crest that’s both instantly recognizable and classic.
6. Edmonton Drillers (NASL) – 1980-1982
The #EdmontonDrillers of the #NASL. pic.twitter.com/0GXRfKizB0
— Classic NASL (@ClassicNASL) August 28, 2016
This is a wonderful relic of 1980s badge design, and it’s a shame the club didn’t last particularly long. Designed shortly after the Edmonton Oilers incorporated a similar Alberta iconography, the drilling tower and the colour scheme on this one immediately scream “Edmonton.”
The font around the crest seems to capture that perfect balance of clean and cartoon that makes the best old NASL crests so awesome. Also, the fact that it’s got the iconic NASL ball on it is a pretty cool feature as well. There’s absolutely no mistaking what the club behind this crest should be.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps (NASL) – 1979-1984
Vancouver Whitecaps’ wave-and-ball iconography has lasted for over four decades after first being introduced with this 1979 gem; poppy double-blue, those delicate lines, the word mark – this could be Canadian club soccer’s best brand. The modern-day Whitecaps all-but acknowledged this with their throwback kits introduced last season, which came with the accompanying logo. Though this crest never appeared on a kit, it’s hard not to imagine those classic blue-striped ‘Caps uniforms just by catching a glimpse of this beauty.
This look had staying power, too. The proto-MLS side gave it a splash (no pun intended) of 1990s flair, extending its influence until the ‘Caps, well, upgraded.
4. Pacific FC (2018-present)
Pacific FC’s primary crest is execution at its finest. For the untrained eye, the central image is a Douglas Fir, one of British Columbia’s most recognizable pieces of flora. How do you fit a tree – better yet, an exceptionally long and skinny one – into a crest this well?
The purple outline completes this shield’s unique shape, one that is exceptionally rare in North American sport. And we haven’t even covered the colours. Teal-and-purple has never looked so regal and modern.
3. Valour FC (CPL) – 2018-Present
There’s a ton to like about this badge, worn proudly by the club with one of the best aesthetics in the CPL. Its ribbon shape instantly evokes the military theme that’s woven into the fabric of Valour FC, as does the stylized folded V. A black crest could sometimes be a risky choice, but it’s pulled off well here with secondary colours that pop.
The wheat sheaves at the top of the crest are a nice touch, looking a bit like a victory laurel while also evoking images of the Manitoba prairies. The intersection of it all at the middle, said to represent the convergence of the Red River and the Assiniboine River, gives the crest a central focus.
Plus, did you notice that the right side of the big V is also a W, for Winnipeg?
2. Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS) – 2011-Present
Certainly the best of the three Canadian MLS crests, Vancouver’s 2010 redesign is good enough to land the city on this list twice.
If you liked the hidden W on Valour’s crest, just wait until you find the overlapping V and W in this one, which also serve as a powder-blue reflection to the white-capped mountains above them. Every element of this crest keeps that Whitecaps theme in clear focus, with the peaks at the top of the badge seeming to tower over the word mark and the waves at the bottom.
It’s hard to go too far wrong with those colours anyway, especially with such a unique shape, but this VWFC design is a home run.
1. HFX Wanderers (CPL) – 2018-Present
For our money, this is the best crest a Canadian club has ever worn – and we’re not just saying that because this is CanPL.ca. In fact, the world at large seemed to agree, back in April when the HFX Wanderers FC badge sailed to the semifinals of FotMob’s World Cup of Club Crests.
?Our 2nd Semi-Final is going down to the wire… who's gonna take it!?@HFXWanderersFC OR @SanDiegoLoyal!? #FWCCC https://t.co/rhvlv6WSWS pic.twitter.com/WJYsNtdsFv
— FotMob (@FotMob) April 11, 2020
The shape is unique enough to spot from a mile away (to anybody who’s visited the Halifax Citadel), and everything within it works together well. This is a crest for a club with a deep-seated connection to its Maritime identity; from the towering Macdonald Bridge at the top to the jagged waves at the bottom, everything fits.
The Scots Gaelic motto – Ar Cala, Ar Dachaigh, Ar n-Anam – places the badge firmly in Nova Scotia, sealing the club’s identity at the heart of the East Coast.