By Phil Hecken, with Kyle Evans & CJ Fleck
Hey guys — it’s that time of year again (no, we’re not quite ready for baseball yet, but we’re close). No — it’s Major League Soccer season, which begins next week. I’m pleased to again welcome back Kyle Evans and CJ Fleck, who have been my “go-to reviewers” for soccer kits in various leagues (as well as the Olympics) for a while now. Today and next weekend, they’ll bring you a look at the new kits for the 2017 MLS Season (Western Conference today, Eastern next weekend) and offer their critiques and commentary. Let’s get started! Here’s Kyle & CJ:
Thanks Phil! Kyle and CJ checking back in for another season of new MLS uniforms. We’re up to 22 teams in the league now as Atlanta United and Minnesota United enter as expansion teams and the new season kicks off Friday, March 3rd. Seattle will enter the new season as reigning MLS Cup champions and will wear a gold star on their jersey above their logo to reflect that and Dallas will enter as reigning Supporters’ Shield winners.
Remember that MLS uniforms are on alternating 2-year cycles meaning that each year, each team releases either a new primary or a new secondary uniform. In other words, between this year’s preview articles and last year’s preview articles here on Uni Watch, you can see all of the current uniform sets in the league.
With a new season also comes a new Adidas template that each new jersey (with the exception of Minnesota) uses. The main differences this year are that the “Adidas 3 stripes” have moved from the sides of the jersey to the top of the shoulders until the sleeve, and that the stripe at the end of the sleeves has become wider and uses one color rather than thinner and using two colors.
We’ll start with the Western Conference, with expansion Minnesota and their uniform sets coming first, followed by the 5 teams with new secondary uniforms, and then the 5 teams with new primary uniforms.
Kyle: Defending conference champions Seattle and Toronto will start the season with a target on their backs while expansion Minnesota will start with one on the front (sorry I couldn’t resist). Me being me, the first thing I noticed was the use of the Adidas templates from the past two seasons rather than the new template that the rest of the league is using. Templates aside, the primary is simple enough with a color scheme that is uniquely theirs in the league and a light blue sash mimicking an element from their logo, and the white over white secondary is fairly safe with team colors on the shoulders. Rating: 4 stars primary, 3 stars secondary
CJ: I love sashes. Much like the Revs new split design, MLS needs to start adapting some more traditional kit designs. The Target logo is quite garish, though, and the away shoulder color blocks are questionable. Good home, borderline stupid away.
Colorado Rapids (secondary)
Kyle: Modeled after the state flag of Colorado, the only real change to the new secondary uniform for the Rapids is making the sleeves blue, similar to the contrasting sleeves on their current primary jersey. I like the move to the colored sleeves and even though this isn’t the team’s main color scheme, I think they’ve done a nice job of owning it the last few years. Rating: 4 stars
CJ: I have to second everything Kyle said. Contrasting sleeves, great look, great design base, all good.
FC Dallas (secondary)
Kyle: Inspired by the night sky of Texas, the new secondary jersey for FC Dallas features a blue gradient with stars (11 – for players on the field – to be exact) and white sleeves and back. The cosmic effect doesn’t do much for me here, leaving this effectively as another gradient design I could do without, and I’m not a fan of mismatched fronts and backs either. Rating: 2 stars
CJ: Can we just stop the gradient train? For real now. Stupid. Stars are an interesting idea, at least.
LA Galaxy (secondary)
Kyle: The Galaxy’s new secondary is all-navy with minimal lighter navy/blue accents on the sleeves and shoulders and similar to their previous secondary jersey. I’d like to see a bit more in terms of design elements and color, but it complements the primary well and LA is a team that wears their primary the vast majority of the time. Rating: 3 stars
CJ: Could certainly be worse. That advertising is a little rough on the eyes; the simplicity pushes it to the forefront. I think I just hate the font. Good, but begrudgingly.
Real Salt Lake (secondary)
Kyle: RSL’s secondary is all-white with blue (template) shoulder stripes and four sublimated vertical stripes on the front. With the number of effectively all-white kits in the league, some combination of red, navy, and/or yellow with the white would be nice to make RSL stand out. Rating: 2 stars
CJ: Safe and boring is better than daring and ridiculous. Good.
Seattle Sounders (secondary)
Kyle: The Sounders’ new secondary jersey is a modern remake of a jersey worn by the team back in the 80’s when they were a part of the old NASL. While I do like the historical connection and their unique use of cyan, this does add to the growing list of all-white uniforms in MLS, so I hope they pair the top with the cyan shorts from their current third uniform at times. Rating: 3 stars
CJ: Boring, but I like the almost throwback aesthetic. Good.
Houston Dynamo (primary)
Kyle: Orange/white/orange with light blue stripes on the jerseys, shorts, and socks? I like it a lot, and this might be the best ever look for the Dynamo. Rating: 5 stars
CJ: Count me as a fan as well. Love the small striping, it’s an understated look. Good.
Portland Timbers (primary)
Kyle: The Timbers essentially took their previous designated third uniform, tweaked a couple of elements, and moved it to their new primary uniform. This is by no means a bad thing because even though I loved their previous primary with a lighter green and the chevron, this is also a beautiful look. Rating: 5 stars
CJ: I’m baffled by the buttons but mostly consider this a good design.
San Jose Earthquakes (primary)
Kyle: I’ve mentioned before that what’s bothered me about San Jose’s uniforms over the years is that they’ve never felt distinctive enough. This changes that, as the new primary jersey incorporates a design element from their still new-ish (2014) logo. Similar to how I enjoy flag elements in international team uniforms, I really like logo elements in club team uniforms. Would be 5 stars from me if not for the gradient part of the design. Rating: 4 stars
CJ: I have to disagree with Kyle here. I don’t like the essentially gradient design on the stripes. Stupid to me.
Sporting Kansas City (primary)
Kyle: SKC’s new primary is light blue with four thin vertical stripes and a white collar and shorts. The kit itself is pretty straightforward, but my observation here is about the color scheme. Their primary looks over the years have consistently incorporated light blue and navy rather than light blue and white, and this change comes at the same time as the opposite change in NYC’s primary look. Coincidence or coordinated? Rating: 4 stars
CJ: Agree with Kyle yet again. Where’s the navy? I’d say that color scheme is a distinctive SKC look. But, they could do much worse, and I like the collar. Good.
Vancouver Whitecaps (primary)
Kyle: Vancouver’s all-white primary is designed after the region’s climate, with light blue triangles meant to represent rain. For me, these fall squarely in the average category as the triangles won’t be too visible and I already miss their previous primary. Rating: 3 stars
CJ: Thank God you can barely see the triangles from a distance or this would be another 1990s complaint. They almost look like pajamas to me. Stupid.
Sweet. Thanks fellas! Nice roundup heading into the season. I’ll have the boys back next weekend as they look at the Eastern Conference.
In Case You Missed It…
Earlier this week (Thursday, in fact), Paul released his latest ESPN column, “What have we learned so far from the NBA uniform ads?,” which (as the name implies), looks at five things we’ve learned so far from the NBA’s uniform ad program.
If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, here ya go. Definitely worth the read if you haven’t already.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: What’s better than old photos of players wearing jackets under their spring training unis? Not much, that’s for sure. Here’s Warren Spahn and Duke Snyder at Mets’ ST camp (according to Bruce Menard, those are from 1965 and 1964 respectively). Always fun to try to date unis worn in ST — since the Mets went to front numbers in 1965 and wore the World’s Fair patch in both 1964 & 1965. … Speaking of patches, here’s the “Mr. I” patch the Tigers will wear this season, in memory of former owner Mike Ilitch (h/t David Raglin). … Here’s more on the Ilitch patch. You’ll note these are just spring training patches (and also note the orange border on the “road” jersey) — but they may go with an entirely different patch for the regular season on their regular uniforms. … “We didn’t have any of the problems we currently have when teams wore powder blue on the road,” writes J Daniel. “Just sayin.” … Yesterday was Eddie Murray’s 61st birthday, and the Orioles tweeted out this photo. Submitter Andrew Cosentino notes he “gets it.” … Also from Andrew, Matt Wieters will wear #32 for the Nationals. … “The university that I work out is currently one of the finalists for the ‘Best Uniform in NCAA D3 Baseball’ from Hero College Sports,” writes Jason Chapman. He adds, “I found all of the finalists pretty interesting, but the tequila sunrise look our Pirates sport, along with the Texas flag on the cap is a unique and sharp look.” … If you like to purchase patches, the Emblem Source has opened their first dedicated fixture at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. … Look closely at this photo of Andrew McCutchen (from Zach D’Ulisse”). Lots to like, including the socks. But if you look closely, it appears he’s wearing a Stargell Star! (good spot by Chris). … Good question from Jon Partlow who is curious about the new Reds ST caps: “Why did the Reds switch from the whole body (which I like a whole lot better) to just the head?” I don’t know the full answer, but I bet it rhymes with “funny.” … Check out this rare and awesome 1942 “PHILS” road jersey, which was worn by newly named 1943 manager Bucky Harris (from Bruce Menard). … Yesterday, Eastern Michigan University wore these throwback jerseys with pins (from EMU Baseball). … Check out this 1969 photo of the Cleveland Indians Submitter 216 Sports History asks, “is this the first time we’ve seen this uniform (vest style) without red sleeves”? Judging from that photo, I’d say that is from Spring Training, and it’s a jacket, probably being worn over sleeves. Still, interesting. … The Cubs’ Javier Baez already has the MLB logo tattoo on his neck. Now he adds the Cubs World Series tat to his arm (from Eric Spoonmore). … Looks like Matt Holiday is going with white cleats this year (or at least for the first Spring Training game of the year). From Chris Howell. … Tyler Danish has a custom Wilson glove for this year — like how he peeps the UA shoes too (from Sean Jankowski). … The Official World Series coloring book shows “generic” pitcher in Cubs uni, but it’s clearly Mariano Rivera (nice spot by Tyler Kepner)! … Check out some of the upcoming Bowling Green Hot Rods promos (from Minor League Promos). … Some rites of spring are still alive, like the Yankees wearing their regular pinstripes and caps for their first ST game (pic from Todd Pratt). … Of course, some of the coaches were wearing the awful ST caps with pinstriped brims (from Samuel Lam). … I think we’ve seen this before, but not in patch form: The Orioles will wear this patch to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Camden Yards (from The Emblem Source). … The Minnesota Gophers baseball new home whites are based off of the classic 1980s uniforms (from Zach Thole). … Interesting shirt for Team Israel in the WBC (from Lee Wilds). … If you thought that what baseball needs is black unis with red pins vs. dark gray, you’d be wrong (from Porth by Northwest). … Is a blue alternate on tap for the Dodgers? “The new MLB The Show uniform stream shows the Dodgers as having a blue alternate,” says Seaver Sheets. “It is not the BP or spring training uniform it is an actual alternate uniform. The developers said they included every uniform in the style guide, and that the MLB does not allow them to use uniforms not in the style guide. That means that these are in the style guide. I think MLB The Show accidentally leaked the Dodgers alternate unis.”
NFL News: “Just noticed in (yester)day’s posting of Bronco’s DL Pete Duranko, that the Raider’s center is wearing double zero!?!? I know you’ve done null-roundups from time to time, but I don’t remember Jim Otto… or should I say Jim 0tt0,” writes Ryan Keberly. “On another side note, I played football in high school in the early 90s. There were still a few guys on the team wearing the outdated belt with tailbone and hip pads. The majority of fellas had boxer-short length girdle with pockets for the pads.” … No, this is not the missing Brady jersey, but, oh, the ignominy: Georgia Mayor Forced To Wear Tom Brady Jersey Because The Patriots Won The Super Bowl. … “I came across this great picture of Paul Hornung running against the NY Giants in the 1961 NFL Championship game,” writes Bill Moss. Giants tackle Dick Modzelewski (#77) is missing the decal on the right side of his helmet. He adds, “I thought you would like to see it, if you haven’t already.” … “Bernie Custis, a former CFL player with the Hamilton Tiger Cats died (Thurs)day,” notes Ted Arnold. “He was the first African American to play quarterback. Paul Brown didn’t want to use him as a qb in Cleveland and wouldn’t release him to any NFL team. Brown sold Custis to Hamilton.” Here’s a nice video about Custis and other black qbs who starred in the CFL. Some nice old footage in the video too – at around the 2:33 mark there is a “great photo of a few players in game action who are not wearing any face masks which was apropos for the time but still odd to see.”
Hockey News: Looks like our pal Wafflebored is nearing completion on his next project. Looking forward to that! … And that didn’t take long, here’s his new goalie jersey project: a cheater jersey. Read about it here. … This Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks will wear Pride-themed jerseys for their warmups. Not only is it a good cause (“You can play”), those actually look pretty good too. More here. … It’s not *just* Tom Brady’s Supe jersey that’s missing these days: Winnipeg police are searching for a suspect behind the theft of Winnipeg Jets memorabilia (including a signed Dustin Byfuglien jersey) that was destined for charity. … The Predators are allowing fans to bid on “Hockey is for Everyone” signed jerseys and sticks — @M__n__R___ notes these are the “old number style.” He notes the difference here. … Back in the day, Boston College (the “Eagles”) had some pretty sweet sweaters: here’s one from 1973, and some from the mid 1980s (from WalterMcKinleyBetts). … How about these old Minnesota State Hockey tournament covers? (from Michael McGivern). … Here’s an update on the St. Lawrence women’s hockey LAH patch from John Muir. The LAH patch will be worn by every women’s hockey player to wear #16 in honor of the late Lisa Arcand Hoy ’91. Lisa passed away in 2013. The patch was added (see second photo) after the women’s new change room was dedicated in her honor last season. … Weather permitting(?) the Penguins & Flyers will play a Stadium Series tonight. Here’s a peek at the Pens unis (or at least the warmups) on ice. … And here are Your Philadelphia Flyers. … The Vancouver Canucks will wear Pride Jerseys in warmups on February 28th.
NBA News: So…why didn’t Steph Curry wear a headband the other night? It’s quite simple, really (from Mike Chamernik). … Do you know what the most popular jersey number is in the NBA? I didn’t either. But apparently it’s the Number 5. That and a few other jersey facts can be found in this article. … Today’s (short) NBA update from Zach Loesl: The Miami Heat wore white on the road and also the Memphis Grizzlies wore white on the road.
College Hoops News: The new “Air Jordan 31 Low” is set to debut for March Madness. Here’s your first look at the “UNC” colorway (from James Gilbert). … Not sure if this is official, but here is a look at UCLA and Cal with UnderAmrour unis (from Nick). These could just be placeholders (like other schools have done when there is a uni manufacturer change on the horizon, but the actual uni isn’t revealed until a later date).
Grab Bag: The subject line of the e-mail to UW read: “Seinfeld Episode Signs Changed By Corporations.” Adam Foxman notes, “Coca Cola, Modela and Snapple signs changed in the scene from ‘The Chinese Woman’ episode of Seinfeld.”
And that’s it for today. Thanks to Kyle & CJ for their Western Conference review of the new MSL kits — they’ll both be back next weekend with the Eastern set. Hope everyone has a great Saturday. Back atcha tomorrow, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Pretty much every MiLB logo of the 1990s looked like clip art. Pretty much every MiLB logo of the 2010s looks like Brandiose. Very different phenomena.”
— R. Scott Rogers