|Founded||May 17, 2018|
(temporary for 2020)
|Owner||Big Top Events|
|Chief Operating Officer||Conor Caloia|
|League||USL League One|
Forward Madison FC is an American professional soccer team based in Madison, Wisconsin. The team was founded in 2018, and played its inaugural season in 2019. The team competes in the third division of the US soccer league system, USL League One, and plays their home matches at Breese Stevens Field.
In January 2018, it was announced that Big Top Events, which owns the Madison Mallards and has operated Breese Stevens Field since 2015, were planning to bring a soccer franchise to Madison which would begin in early 2019. As part of the plan, Big Top Events looked to have $2 million invested into renovating the stadium, pending a contract renegotiation with the City of Madison. Big Top Events wished to have a longer term lease, along with an increase in the number of concerts at the stadium, more employees at the venue, and $1.6 million from the city for facility upgrades.
On May 15, 2018, the Madison City Council approved a new ten-year contract with Big Top Events. As part of the agreement, the city agreed to pay $1.3 million toward facility improvements. This included an expansion of the stadium for a seating capacity of 5,000. Following this, Madison were officially announced as the fourth founding member of USL League One on May 17, 2018. The professional league, which is the third-division in the US soccer league system, began in March 2019. Madison became the first team based in the Midwestern United States to join the league, and is the only current outdoor professional soccer team in Wisconsin. Following the announcement, Peter Wilt was appointed as managing director of the team. Wilt is well-known for founding new clubs; Madison was the sixth team Wilt helped launch, having previously been involved in the formation of teams such as Chicago Fire and Indy Eleven.
In June 2018, Madison Pro Soccer began a "Name Your Club" online voting contest to recommend a name for the team. Names under consideration spanned from traditional football names like "Madison United FC" to such whimsical choices as "Holsteins", "Madison Curds", and "77 Square Miles SC". On July 16, it was announced that the final vote was between the names "Forward Madison FC/SC" and "AFC Madison". Forward Madison FC was announced as the official name on November 18, 2018, along with the logo and team colors, at an event at the Wisconsin Historical Society. "Forward" is the state motto of Wisconsin.
On September 27, 2018, Daryl Shore was announced as the first head coach of Madison. He will also serve as the technical director of the team. Shore had previously worked in various roles at Chicago Fire with Peter Wilt, and served as the interim coach of Real Salt Lake in 2017. In September 2018, Don Smart was the team's first player signing, which was announced on October 24.
The club announced, on December 7, 2018, a one-year affiliation agreement with Minnesota United FC of Major League Soccer.
Following the club's inaugural season, Peter Wilt left to take a position with the league, developing supporters groups and assisting teams with their fan engagement.
On March 5, 2020, the Forward Madison FC announced a one-year affiliation agreement with the Chicago Fire FC of Major League Soccer.
On December 1, 2020, Carl Craig was announced as the head coach and technical director. Craig had previously served as the head coach of NASL club Minnesota United.
The team started receiving national attention in January 2019, during the polar vortex, when the social media intern tweeted a photo of a plastic flamingo stuck in the snow accumulating on the field. Within a few days, the snow became deep enough to cover the entire flamingo. This second tweet went viral, ending up with over 22 thousand likes, and 7.8 thousand retweets. "Full mingo" has become a catchphrase for the team.
Forward Madison has continued to have a strong digital media presence, which the club uses to promote itself to fans outside of the Madison area, billing itself as "the world's second favorite team".
On May 4, 2019, Forward Madison unveiled its dairy cow mascot, named "Lionela Bessi" following a fan vote. Bessi was brought back for the club's second season. When Lionela had a calf, the club adopted her as a mascot as well, and had another fan vote, ending up with the name "Rose Cowbelle," after the University of Wisconsin alumni and pro player Rose Lavelle. 
Further information: Breese Stevens Field
The team plays their matches at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, which was expanded from a grandstand capacity of 3,740 to 5,000. The stadium, which was built in 1925, is the city's oldest sports park. It is owned by the City of Madison and has been operated since 2015 by Big Top Events. The venue has been designated as a city landmark since 1995, and in 2015 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stadium hosts the East High School soccer and football teams, the Madison Radicals ultimate team, as well as other sport competitions, concerts, and community events.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club moved its 2020 USL League One season games to Hart Park in Wauwatosa, seventy-five miles away.
Forward Madison FC's inaugural 2019 season saw an average home attendance of 4,292, the highest in USL League One.
The team's logo features a flamingo, as the city's official bird is the plastic flamingo lawn ornament. It was designed by Madison-based graphic design firm Planet Propaganda.
The color blue comes from the Madison flag, as does the white sash. At the bottom of the badge, Roman numerals spell out 608, the city's area code.
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor||Sleeve sponsor|
|2020–present||Just Coffee Co-op|
Forward Madison's home jerseys feature a sky blue field with white sash, a reference to the city's flag (which itself references the geography of the city on an isthmus). A sublimated flamingo design appears on the home shirt, and sublimated pink flamingos dot the club's inaugural white away jersey.
On March 14, 2020, Forward Madison unveiled its second-ever change shirt. The design features diagonal pink stripes, with names of 900 season ticket holders in the white space between. The shirt was designed by members of the supporters group The Flock, in what is believed to be a first for professional sports.
The club's original pink-patterned third jersey, worn in U.S. Open Cup appearances, was selected as the best world soccer jersey in satellite radio channel SiriusXM FC's 2019 "Kit of the Year" competition. It defeated the Chicago Red Stars home kit with over 200,000 votes. A new third kit, featuring a swirling pattern of navy blue, sky blue, and pink, was unveiled on May 23, 2020. Called the "Drip Kit", it was inspired by team designer Cassidy Sepnieski's experiments with hydro dipping.
The club recognizes five independent supporters groups, each with a different focus. The Flock is the first and largest group, and the Independent Supporters' Association for the club. The other groups are La Barra 608, by and for Latinx fans, Forward Union with a focus on community service, Featherstone Flamingos, an inclusive group that celebrates Black culture (named for Don Featherstone, creator of the plastic lawn flamingo), and Mingo Ladies for supporters who identify as women. A portion of members of the Flock also run a group centered around civic engagement called "Pink Tape".
The club also has an international membership program called Mingos Worldwide, which comes with a scarf bearing their promotional slogan "The World's Second Favorite Team".
|3||MF||Eric Leonard||United States|
|4||DF||Gustavo Fernandes||United States|
|8||MF||Michael Vang||United States|
|9||FW||Jake Keegan||United States|
|13||DF||Connor Tobin||United States|
|31||FW||Noah Fuson||United States|
|44||DF||Josiah Trimmingham||Trinidad and Tobago|
|77||DF||Jiro Barriga Toyama||Japan|
|—||FW||Tyler Allen||United States|
|—||GK||Phil Breno||United States|
|—||FW||Derek Gebhard||United States|
|—||DF||Heath Martin||United States|
|—||MF||Aaron Molloy||Republic of Ireland|
|Carl Craig||Head coach and technical director|
|Neil Hlavaty||Assistant coach|
|Jim Launder||Assistant coach|
|Eric Wilde||Assistant coach / Performance Analyst|
|Sport management and organization|
|Conor Caloia||Chief operating officer|
|Year||Division||League||Regular Season||Playoffs||US Open Cup|
|2020||3||USL1||7th||Did not qualify||Cancelled|
|Daryl Shore||United States||September 27, 2018||October 27, 2020||48||19||13||16||59||45||39.58|
|Carl Craig||England||December 1, 2020||Present||0||0||0||0||0||0||—|