PAWTUCKET, RI - Rhode Island’s men’s professional soccer team will make its USL Championship debut in 2024 and will be called Rhode Island FC, a nod to soccer’s rich history in the Ocean State. The club unveiled its team colors and an iconic crest on Monday morning that draws inspiration from the symbols that are unique to Rhode Island and from direct input from the community.
“In soccer, players and supporters wear the club crest over their hearts. Our team is a club for every Rhode Islander and we cannot wait to open our doors to welcome long-time soccer fans and folks new to the beautiful game into our home,” said Cranston native, Rhode Island soccer legend and Rhode Island FC co-founder Michael Parkhurst. “We spent months talking with other Rhode Islanders to develop a club identity and crest unique to the people and place it represents. Those conversations sparked more than a design: they helped solidify connections with our community and opportunities to give back. When our club steps out on the pitch, every fan will see that we are firmly anchored in Rhode Island.”
The anchor-motif crest was designed by the creative agency NAIL and it is the result of the many listening sessions conducted within the Rhode Island community – in addition to the extensive historical research conducted by American soccer historians.
The RIFC crest features Rhode Island themes and concepts that were talked about in depth, such as:
Rhode Island’s state colors
The anchor as a symbol for the state (How it represents both “hope” and “being grounded”)
Rhode Island’s connection to the water
The historical roots of soccer in Rhode Island
The salty personalities of Rhode Islanders
Rhode Island’s passion for soccer
Rhode Island’s diversity and the desire for inclusion and community building
Rhode Island FC honors the state’s rich soccer history which goes all the way back to the 1800s. The city of Pawtucket was instrumental in the development of the sport in New England. Some of the best European talent of the day played alongside Americans as well as new immigrants to the area. Within walking distance of Rhode Island FC’s future home, championship teams such as J & P Coats FC, Pawtucket Rangers and the American Cup-winning Pawtucket Free Wanderers played to crowds of thousands. Rhode Island was also home to the first professional African American soccer players in the United States. Oliver and Fred Watson played for teams in the Pawtucket area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Their house still stands in Pawtucket to this day.
Rhode Island FC is the state’s only professional sports team that is independently affiliated with Rhode Island. As part of the unveiling of the club’s identity and crest, officials and supporters of Rhode Island FC will lead an Anchored in Rhode Island tour across the state. Over the course of the day, the club will visit schools, libraries, local restaurants, firehouses and other central community locations in all 39 Rhode Island cities and towns to showcase that connection the club will have with the entire state. The Anchored in Rhode Island tour will conclude this evening at The Guild in Pawtucket for ‘Gathering at the Guild’ party where club merchandise will be available for sale.
“Rhode Island is one of the country’s best markets for soccer and this state deserves a team it can call its own. Rhode Island FC is the only pro team in the state with a direct connection to the 39 cities and towns that make up the Ocean State,” said Brett Johnson, co-founder of Rhode Island FC. “With an identity and a strong base of support from both established and new soccer fans, we know that Rhode Island FC will compete at the highest levels of USL immediately. As importantly, this club will provide an anchor for civic pride in our stadium in Pawtucket, that will ripple across the entire state. Our stadium will be a community gathering place and our players will be neighbors and ambassadors to Rhode Islanders. We can’t wait for Opening Night.”
Rhode Island FC will compete in USL Championship beginning in the 2024 season. The club will host its matches in a state-of-the-art soccer stadium currently under construction along the Pawtucket waterfront. Season ticket deposits for the inaugural Rhode Island FC season go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. Fans can visit www.RhodeIslandFC.com to make deposits.
Merchandise is also available for sale online at rhodeislandfc.com.
Parkhurst, the 2005 Major League Soccer (MLS) Rookie of the Year and a 2018 MLS Cup Champion, will visit a CLCF practice at Cranston West at approximately 5:00pm and talk with players, coaches and parents about the role soccer has played in his life. Parkhurst played youth soccer with CLCF.