By Phil Hecken
The 2016 MLS (Major League Soccer) season will soon be upon us, with the first games kicking off next weekend. Of the 20 teams, so far 17 have released their new uniforms or alternates for 2016 (two more will be released this week, and the final club will unveil on March 10th). As this site isn’t usually “big” on Soccer (or “football” for most of the rest of the world), we don’t usually feature too many ledes on new kits — but I’m hoping to change that. Unfortunately, I’m still not much of a soccer guy (though I do try to catch games, especially some of the Euro leagues — and of course I love it when it’s tournament time). But I’m definitely (and sadly) not much of an American soccer guy. Fortunately, many readers are.
So when about two weeks ago I was approached by Kyle Evans and CJ Fleck with a pitch to review the new 2016 uniforms, I jumped at the chance.
Today, Kyle and CJ will review the nine new kits for the Eastern Conference (there are 10 teams) — the tenth team, Toronto FC, will reveal their new uni next Tuesday. Next weekend they’ll be back with that plus nine of the 10 Western Conference teams (that 10th team, Colorado, won’t unveil until after the season kicks off, as they open on the road, and will be releasing their home jersey just before home opener). So, between this weekend and next, we’ll see all but one of the new unis for 2016 for MLS. OK? OK. So, now, without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Kyle & CJ (click any photos below to enlarge):
New 2016 MLS Jerseys, Eastern Conference
By Kyle Evans and CJ Fleck
Thanks Phil! Kyle and CJ here, otherwise described as: longtime readers of the site, former roommates, and current huge MLS fans. Before we get to all of the new jerseys and our takes on them, here’s a few important things to know about this year’s MLS jerseys in general:
• MLS jerseys are currently all on alternating 2-year cycles, meaning that once a new jersey is released, a team will wear that jersey for 2 years and each team will release a new home or away jersey each season. Overall, 10 of the 20 teams in the league will have new home jerseys this season and the other 10 will have new away jerseys and 1 team (so far) will also have a new third alternate jersey.
• The template used by Adidas for this year’s jersey is different than previous years with the most obvious visual change being the movement of the 3 stripes from the shoulders/sleeves to the sides of the jersey. The template also includes one or two different color stripes at the end of the sleeves.
• MLS instituted a new “star system” to represent MLS Cup championships above team logos on all jerseys this season. The league produced a graphic to explain the system, but here’s how it works: Each previous MLS Cup won by a team will be represented by a silver star. If you won last season’s MLS Cup and are defending champions (Portland Timbers this season), that star will be gold instead of silver as long as you are the defending champions, meaning it will revert to a silver star next season. And if you have 5 Cups (and are not defending champions), a gold star will be worn in place of 5 silver stars. Got it? Oh, and the league will worry about more than 5 when the time comes – the Galaxy currently lead MLS with 5 Cups (and as a result, will wear a gold star on their jerseys this season).
One more thing – we wanted to try something different by using two different rating systems, so Kyle will be putting the new star system to work, meaning that “Gold star” = 5 stars (the highest rating) and CJ will be using Paul’s tried-and-tested “Good or Stupid?” scale.
Without further ado, we begin with the Eastern Conference teams (with Toronto FC still to come):
Chicago Fire (Home)
Kyle: The Fire move away from including navy (other than the template stripes) which had been part of their home jersey for each of the past 4 seasons and return to their ”˜all-red with a horizontal white stripe across the chest’ look which was the heart of their home design from 1998-2011. That being said, it feels too simple and leaves more to be desired. It’s a good template, but a splash of navy and another design element wouldn’t hurt. Rating: 2 stars
CJ: In a general brand move, Adidas moving away from the three shoulder stripes is a welcome change. Count me in as a fan of the cleaner look. Underarm stripes keep the brand awareness alive (unfortunately) but leave some more visible open spaces. However, I’m not sure where to place Chitown’s new home on the traditional “good or stupid?” scale. It’s nothing exceptional, but they certainly did not fail, either. Let’s go with a soft good.
Columbus Crew SC (Away)
Kyle: I think it’s safe to say that these have been and will continue to be the most discussed of the new uniforms. Designed after the city flag, the defending Eastern Conference champions are calling this their “For Columbus” kit, and I’m calling it poor execution. Using the colors of the city flag isn’t a bad idea, but I’m not a fan of the fading yellow stripes on the jersey and the contrasting shorts just don’t look right given that there’s only the smallest amount of sky blue on the jersey. Rating: 1 star
CJ: There are innumerable pictures floating around comparing these to Minions (I don’t know what those are) and some kids’ show character (I obviously don’t know who that would be) so if you’d like cheap shots, you can find them. However, I like the idea. Like Kyle said, we’re looking at poor execution. The yellow is absolutely jarring to my eyes. A white/blue/white combination would have been just fine with red accents. Good idea, stupid overall.
D.C. United (Home)
Kyle: D.C. owns the all-black look in MLS and their latest uniform is another variation of exactly that. The sublimated horizontal stripes on the front of the jersey are nearly impossible to see, so it’s effectively a simple design but a solid one nonetheless, and bonus points for their new logo, which I think is a classy and modern upgrade over their previous one. Rating: 4 stars
CJ: Sublimated stripes are a nice touch. If it ain’t broke…good.
Montreal Impact (Home)
Kyle: After using an all blue home jersey and having a similar black and blue vertical stripe design as their third uniform, the Impact updated their striped design and made it their home jersey, which looks nothing less than magnifique. It’s a classic design for the franchise (and part of their logo after all), and although the silver pinstripes aren’t needed, I don’t mind them either. Rating: Gold star
CJ: Je m’en souviendrai! These are beautiful. I am a huge stripes fan, so it’s nice to see more of them in MLS. However, the additional pinstripes may make this a bit busy to some eyes. I am especially a fan of the little Quebecois touches they included: the tiny silver flag motif on the front, and the simpler flag design on the collar. Definitely good.
New England Revolution (Home)
Kyle: The Revs opted for a new design, incorporating angled red and white vertical stripes down the center of the jersey supposedly inspired by Revolutionary War-era jackets. The comparison to PSG’s previous jersey is too easy, and while it’s not the best or my favorite design, it’s not bad either and has already grown on me since the release. Rating: 3 stars
CJ: New England opens with a similar issue to Chicago. Was this truly a good idea? We can talk PSG, but I do like the angular take on it, especially over white shorts. Soft good.
New York City FC (Away)
Kyle: In their second attempt at a road uniform, NYCFC ditched the all black for a unique “ripple effect” light blue to dark blue design. Con: It has more of a practice jersey feel to it. Pros: The orange pops and the shades of blue work fairly well together and for a team trying to establish its own identity, why not? Rating: 3 stars
CJ: Are we certain that MLS hasn’t ventured into the NFL realm of fashion-inspired jerseys? Nothing screams NYC like a swirling mass of confusion, I guess. Points for consistent color scheme with the sponsor though. I’m looking at you, Philly. Stupid.
New York Red Bulls (Away)
Kyle: The reigning holders of the Supporters’ Shield have been fairly consistent with navy/yellow as their away colors and the contrasting sleeves match their home design and are a nice look here as well. Having the Red Bull logo repeated on the center of the jersey and on the team logo looks a bit funny, but otherwise a fairly simple and solid look. Rating: 3 stars
CJ: Sleeves are a nice touch but the incessant advertising makes this a permanent stupid until things change. No, I am not biased as a Philadelphia supporter, why do you ask?
Orlando City SC (Away)
Kyle: Orlando replaces their inaugural all white away jersey from last season with a new white top that includes purple sleeves as well. The “3D” effect on the logo doesn’t do anything for me, but the contrasting sleeves look nice and I hope the jersey is more often paired with purple shorts and/or socks (sorry Paul) rather than an all-white look. Rating: 4 stars
CJ: I love collared jerseys, so when I see attempts to mimic that look, I get a little upset. Overall, nice change of pace for Orlando. Love the gold accents, as well as the sleeves. Call it a solid good with reduction for faux collar shenanigans.
Philadelphia Union (Home)
Kyle: Other than changing the template of the jersey and adding an impossible to see sublimated “snakeskin” pattern, the Union’s home jersey remains the same and that isn’t a bad thing. It’s a design they’ve stuck with since entering the league, and for good reason: it’s a solid design with nothing to complain about, and one that is distinctly Union. Rating: 4 stars
CJ: Automatic good for being Philadelphia. As Kyle said, they own this design. It has many strengths. Well, except for the bogus snakeskin thing. And the elimination of the pinstripes from last year’s design. And the completely eye gouging advertising which could easily be fixed like many other teams. But hey, they got to take pictures with snakes, so they got that going for them, which is nice.
Thanks CJ & Kyle! I’ll be back with the fellas next weekend for the Western Conference (and Toronto). Readers, what say you?
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it, Paul’s Friday Flashback on ESPN was an absolutely mind-blowingly in-depth look at the San Francisco 49ers’ 1991 helmet redesign, which (to paraphrase a certain prexy-wannabe) was a disaster. We’re probably all familiar with the story (or at least we should be), but Paul’s really taken it to another level in this one.
Great read, so be sure to check it out if you missed it!
Got an e-mail from Omar Jalife, who has a pretty in-depth little write up that is too long for the ticker, but too good not to mention. Here’s Omar:
There are key differences, mainly in the back area which used to be black (that’s normal for many teams since it is where many of the exhaust fumes go out and it becomes dirty anyway).
The lower black line seems a little higher this year and it has been increasing over the years (look at how it was in 2012)
In the front, that same line has been reduced from half of the car to about a quarter with the remining space being taken by white.
Also in the back, the top part (engine cover) is now mostly white (like in the 70’s) but with big black areas that does not make sense at all.
Force India continues to reduce the size of the green and orange motifs which were part of their initial identity up until 2013.
In 2014 they switched to BFBS but with lots of orange and green.
Last year, gray made an appearance and green was taken out completely.
And this year a little green strip returned.
Renault bought team Lotus and will have a third stint in Formula 1. However, unlike previous times where yellow was a big factor because, you know, his logo is fucking yellow, their new car will be black.
Evolution of Renault F1 cars:
You can see that 2011 and 2012 are mainly black but these were cars that were not owned by Renault themselves, the owner was Genii Capital and Renault was the engine supplier. Also, there was a dispute between to teams for the Lotus name with this team sporting the colors of the team in the 80’s (John Playes Special livery) and the other one sporting the Green and yellow from the era before advertisers.
Finally, we have Haas F1, the newcomer to the serial. Haas Automation colors are red, gray and black which bled awfully into the car. Anyway, the thing I do not understand from them is why, if you are new and you should be making it easier for American fans to follow you, would you use the most common color in the grid right now. 8 out of 22 cars are black and it doesn’t seem as it will change much with sponsors backing away (many teams now have the name of the company that owns them on the sidepod, which is the mos lucrative advertising space).
I wanted to take a brief moment to express a hearty Uni Watch “Happy Birthday” to an awesome guy and friend (and big friend of Uni Watch), the one and only Todd Radom. He turns a Cespedes today!
Oh yeah, and if you weren’t aware, he’s probably designed some of your favorite logos (and uniforms too!).
So, please join me in wishing Todd a Happy 52nd today (or give him a shout over on the Twitter).
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Here’s our first look at the new Turner Field Final Season patch the Braves will wear this season (h/t Trent). Here’s another look (h/t Mike Nessen). … Check out this video chat with Ebbets Field founder Jerry Cohen, who discusses the inspiration behind Ebbets Field Flannels brand (h/t Steve Sanchez). … Paul has already reported that the Indians striped socks are here to stay, but it’s always great to get confirmation from the team (from Brandon Bush). … Here’s what ODU (Old Dominion) will be wearing this weekend (via Craig Pritchard.). … Here’s a short little article on Dylan Bundy changing his number to #37 (thanks to Andrew Cosentino). Here’s a bit more on that. … “The Durham Bulls are going to wear jerseys designed by RUNAWAY, a local streetware/fashion brand for a game this season,” notes Matthew Poindexter. “Given the clothing brand’s recent line, I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed the wordmark to “DURM” (which is how the local pronounce it).” … Some Tampa Rays uni info from Jake Jahimiak: Rays are wearing their Faux throwback uniforms on June 18th vs. the Giants. SF will be wearing a 1970’s or 1980’s road Giants uniform. “The Rays throwbacks will be the navy and Columbia blue style — no plans yet to wear the yellow sleeved faux throwbacks in 2016 as of now,” he adds. … The first team photo of the Pirates’ bumblebee era had a glaring omission: an injured Willie Stargell (from Jimmer Vilk). … Here’s our first look at the new Indians striped socks in stirrup form (as they should be, even though he’s wearing them with what looks like a 9″ cut), with thanks to Brandon Bush). … Here’s a look at the North Carolina baseball tequila sunrise-esque jersey from the mid-80s (from Carson Bowers). … “In this somewhat odd media day photo, Brewers player Rymer Liriano flips up his brim, and shows that he’s got his number (#79) right up against the edge of his brim,” writes Brad Iverson-Long. “It looks like that green wristband he’s wearing says Juego para Cristo or ‘Play for Christ.’ There appears to be a Venezuelan Christian organization that promotes these bracelets (here’s an instagram photo of another player wearing one), but Rymer is, apparently, Dominican. He hasn’t even played Winter ball in Venezuela.” … The Norfolk Tides have introduced a new logo for the Jr. Tides program (h/t Andrew Lind). … According to Meredith Wills, “Louisville) officially has the coolest road pants ever!” Not sure how auto-correct screwed up “worst” with “coolest.” … Here’s a pretty good look (and puppies!) at the San Diego Padres new unis and ASG patch (h/t Robert Hayes). Here’s another puppy and good shot of the uni & cap patch (via Brian Holdcroft). … Here is the MLB video about the 1969 Seattle Pilots and how they came to be. Submitter Mike Powers says, “The video has some neat video of Sick’s Seattle Stadium, a fight between the Yanks & Pilots, as well as the playing of the team song, ‘Go, Go You Pilots’. It also shows the team in their generic spring training unis.” … Not sure if we’ve seen/discussed these before, but interesting helmet style of the Rice 1B coach (from Jorge Pa).
NFL News: The Ryan Brothers (Rex and his twin, Rob) arrived at the NFL Combine wearing throwback Buffalo Bills jerseys (from David Pealing via Paul). … The Atlanta (Millennium) Falcons? “Thought you might get a kick out of this shirt I got a while back, writes AndrÃ©s Galdames. “Honestly, I am pretty sure this violates at least 39 NFL AND Star Wars trademarks in one way or another, so I shan’t mention where I got it.”
College Football News: Here’s a neat look at the Alabama Crimson Tide’s new 16 Time National Champions display (from Munch Suchland). Love how the helmet numbers correlate to the year the team won the title. … Which college fan bases are “most protective” of their uniforms? Pleased to see that ‘bama and PSU are #1 & #2 respectively.
Hockey News: The author of this article feels that
if when ads do come to NHL sweaters, “A small ad, either at the top corner of the jersey or the bottom of the jersey (either on the front or back), would be the best way to go”. … For “military appreciation night,” the Vancouver Canucks warmed up in camo sweaters. … Here’s a look (more like a peek) at the jerseys of the World Cup of Hockey, which will officially be unveiled on March 2. … The Red Wings & Avalanche will hook up in their Stadium Series game today — and, as is common as these games, the unis will have gigantic TV numbers (and will be played in Coors Field). … Today, the Peoria Rivermen will be wearing Star Wars-themed jerseys (from Joe Ringham).
NBA News: This is pretty cool: check out these “Art of Sport” designs for hoops (from Rodney Flores). … Here’s another batch of minimalistic NBA redesign concepts (thanks to Mike Chamernik). … According to UW friend Chris Creamer, it looks like the Toronto Raptors will be adding two new jerseys next season — possibly a Chinese New Year jersey and a throwback. … Not completely uni-related, but here’s a pretty good article the on mysterious life and disappearance of Detroit basketball star John Brisker (from Jeffrey Sak). … “It looks like the celtics are going back to their original St. Pats uniform this year: no sleeves!” says Brendan Hickey. “Not sure what it means for the shorts yet, guessing the standard home/road template — this year, sleeved (alternate shorts template), and original.” … The LA Lakers wore their black alts at home vs. the Memphis Grizzlies last evening (from Mike Chamernik).
College/High School Hoops News: The Bonnies (St. Bonaventure) may be leaving Nike and switching to adidas. … The Kansas Jayhawks have worn 10 different unis this year — they’ll break out their 11th today (thanks, Paul). … Check out the rolled socks in this old photo (from Jason Costigan). … The Santa Cruz Warriors will don these ‘Sea God’ unis next Wednesday to support Grind Out Hunger (from Sea Dubs Central). … Oooohhhh, check out the nice striped warmup pants for the Meade County HS boys basketball team (from Josh Claywell). … Don Bosco Prep has a similar look (via Jeremy Schneider). … Meanwhile, Batavia HS (IL) has stripes AND sleeves (from David Lundborg). … And here is the Herculaneum High School Lady Blackcats (from Jeff Whitener). … … Here are the new uniforms Cincinnati will be wearing next Sunday vs SMU (from NA Colosimo) — not sure why they’d wear football stadium designs on hoops jerseys, but, whatever.
Soccer News: Here’s a look at the kits each club will be wearing in the Premier League Matchweek 27 (thanks to Robert Hayes). … Here’s a “leak” of the new Bayern Munich jerseys. … AFC Bournemouth will wear pink jerseys as their third kit (from Griffin Smith). … Here’s the Nike ball that will be used at Copa America Centenario ’16 (thanks to Conrad Burry).
Grab Bag: Sad story here: remember Debi Thomas, the American Olympian who won a Bronze medal at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 (if you’re old like me, you’ll remember her battles with Katarina Witt)? She has unfortunately had some rough times and is now bankrupt (from TommyTheCPA). … A group of Swedish skaters found four wild pigs struggling to traverse an icy lake — they used curling brooms to push them to safety (thanks, Paul)! … “Long-time listener, first-time caller,” writes Luke Meredith. “Anyway, I’m the AP’s international wrestling guy and just wrote this. Thought you’d like it.” Welcome, Luke! … Not sure if this was posted before, but Paul was interviewed by The Collectors Journal (the article publish date says February 5) — good stuff in there! (h/t Collectable). … According to Justin Cyr, this is Michigan Tech’s new logo. … Spirit Socks looks like a good site for designing athletic socks (from Tim Cross). … Cool high school championship sign from Port Edwards High School in Port Edwards, Wisconsin. Submitter Jeff Ash adds, “Each conference championship recognized by year. They just put up the 16 for this year’s boys basketball championship.” … Nebraska Lacrosse against Creighton Friday night (club team, not NCAA), three different Ns, one uniform (from Brett Baker). … Here is Brittany Force in her new helmet (from David Firestone). … The IU swim team was wearing the stripes at B1G Championships (from Blake Dowson via Paul).
That’s it for today, folks. Big thanks to Kyle & CJ (who’ll be back next weekend with Part II, the Western Conference), Omar and everyone who sent in ticker items. Enjoy the Stadium Series hockey game in Denver today — and it’s expected to be on a day with near-record warmth (70 degrees!), although game-time temps will be well below that. Could be interesting. I’ll be back with more tomorrow but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Having lived in Austin for the past 15 years, we are the proud owners of a waffle iron shaped like Texas. The panhandle is especially delicious.”
— Jim Howicz