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MLS-Palooza: Clubs Unveil 13 New Kits

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Busy day yesterday for MLS, as a baker’s dozen teams released new kits, most with “City Edition”-style local themes.

I don’t follow soccer, so I’m not going to pretend to have any insights about where these designs fit into the contexts of their respective teams, or MLS, or the sport as a whole. Instead, I’m just going to show all of the designs, present a bit of text from each team’s press release (most of it cringeworthy, but whaddaya gonna do), link to additional pics/info, and let you folks take it from there. Here we go, alphabetized by team name:

Atlanta United

Quoting from the press release:

The 17s’ Kit is dedicated to the club’s supporters, which are known as “17s.” The number 17 symbolizes Atlanta United’s inaugural 2017 season and was reserved for supporters ahead of the club’s maiden campaign, never to be worn by an Atlanta United player.

Additional photos and info here.


Austin FC

Quoting from the press release:

The club’s new primary look, which features multiple Verde & Black patterns, establishes a uniquely Austin perspective on the coming together of voices from across Austin through the Austin FC community.

Additional photos and info here.


Charlotte FC

Quoting from the press release:

Powered by the people’s pride in community, the uniform aims to redefine royalty and inspire a new era for the Queen City after joining MLS as an expansion side in 2022.

Additional photos and info here.


Colorado Rapids

Quoting from the press release:

The shirt was co-designed by local artist Pat Milbery and is the first-ever artist collaboration on an MLS jersey. Its design is inspired by Colorado’s sunrises and sunsets as well as the possibilities each new day brings. As part of this jersey launch, the Rapids are partnering with Mental Health Colorado to raise awareness around the current mental health crisis in the state and promote resources available to the public.

Additional photos and info here.


Columbus Crew

Quoting from the press release:

The black-on-grey kit features a checkerboard design with offset and grain representing speed, velocity, and movement – attributes that embody both the club and the city of Columbus. Following that theme, the club’s mantra of “Never Stand Still” is emblazoned in yellow down the side, while “The Crew” moniker appears in italics on the jock tag position at the hip.


FC Cincinnati

Quoting from the press release:

FCC’s new kit pays tribute to the Ohio River. Showcasing famous landmarks throughout Cincinnati, the River Kit embodies FC Cincinnati’s connection to the community, and that the club is All For Cincy.

Additional photos and info here.


Houston Dynamo

Quoting from the press release:

[The kit] celebrates the energy, light, and guidance sourced by the Sun with a Texas twist. The luminous kit marks a moment in time with an abundance of orange tones that reflect the next chapter of the two-time MLS Cup champions.

Additional photos and info here.


New York Red Bulls

Quoting from the press release:

Soccer and fashion collide as RBNY collaborated with luxury sportswear designer Daniel Patrick for a kit that’s fueled by the desire to innovate. From its eye-popping colors to the hidden meanings included throughout, the jersey drips with streetwear swag.

Additional photos and info here.


Quoting from the press release:

The kit features the navy and orange colors of the NYC flag, alongside the club’s City Blue, making it NYCFC’s most colorful home shirt yet. The bottom of the kit also features a fitting symbol in the form of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, an idea borne out of a workshop with Young Leaders from City in the Community, the nonprofit foundation proudly supported by NYCFC.

(Contrary to what the press release says, the NYC flag does not include navy.)

Additional photos and info here.


New England Revolution

Quoting from the press release:

The kit features a strikethrough in the Revs logo as a visual reflection of the spirit of defiance present in the region since the country’s formation by the Founding Fathers. A new club icon, the Heritage Tree, also makes a first appearance on the jersey. The Heritage Tree pays homage to the flag of New England while also celebrating the Revolution’s inaugural 1996 season.

Additional photos and info here.


Philadelphia Union

Quoting from the press release:

[The jersey] features a pattern that was inspired by Philly’s 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs run. A watershed year for the Union, 2019 marked the first-ever postseason win in club history. The tagline of that season was “Philly or Nothing” with a creative look featuring a camouflage pattern that mirrored the intensity with which the team approached all matches.

Additional photos and info here.


Portland Timbers

Quoting from the press release:

Ponderosa, shadow green, and gold come together in a plaid-clad jersey to reflect the tight-knit relationship between the club and the community. The Portland Plaid jersey is a symbol of kinship, connecting everyone who plays a part in making Portland Soccer City USA.

Additional photos and info here.


Seattle Sounders

Quoting from the press release:

Fifty years after his untimely death, the kit honors a legend with deep Seattle roots and a shared commitment to harmony, self-expression, inclusion and action. Details include sunbeam yellow accents with a dragon design, as well as Bruce Lee’s official signature and the Bruce Lee Core Symbol: Yin Yang and traditional characters.

Additional photos and info here.


And there you have it. The new MLS season kicks off on Feb. 25.


ITEM! Awesome New Substack Article

People, you’re gonna like this! Give me a minute to explain.

Last month I did that blog post about the Orioles’ 1978 uni order from Wilson Sporting Goods. One of the players on that team was pitcher Nelson Briles (he’s the one who, as you may recall, had special instructions for his sleeve openings and pant cuffs). One of the people who commented on that post was Briles’s son, David Briles, who, as it turns out, has been an occasional Uni Watch reader for many years.

I asked David for an interview, and he turned out to be a gold mine of fascinating information. Among other things, he told me how his dad sometimes disguised which brand of glove he wore on the mound due to an endorsement conflict; that a key bit of info on his dad’s 1973 baseball card is inaccurate; what his dad thought of the Astros’ rainbow design; how his dad ended up making a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live; and a lot more.

David also provided me with lots of great photos from various Family Day promotions. The one at the top of this section is from 1970 (that’s David at far right, and his sister Kelley wearing the Cardinals’ uni with the skirt!), and check out this priceless shot of David with Willie Stargell in 1972:

There’s more where that came from — a lot more. I know I seem to say this almost every week, but this is one of my favorite Uni Watch articles ever — really! You can read the first part of it here. To read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack, which I hope you’ll consider doing. Thanks!

Comments (53)

    Ignoring all the sports marketing storytelling, I do think MLS uniforms do a better job at avoiding the template look you see in a lot of other soccer leagues, where all the adidas teams look the same, all the Nike teams, etc… I appreciate that there are unique design elements.

    This year, they do. In past years, they’ve been awful with tons of teams in almost plain white.

    It’s great to see the improvement. I’m even pleased with the chances they took that backfired.

    I feel so bad for the authors of those blurbs who probably sigh with disgust at the conclusion of writing each and every one of them. Each and everyone of those sound forced and have had the opposite affect on me, giving me a negative opinion of those jerseys before having seen them on the field.

    Ha haaaa, you’re right on! What a load!

    “The club’s new primary look, which features multiple Verde & Black patterns, establishes a uniquely Austin perspective on the coming together of voices from across Austin through the Austin FC community.”

    Of course it does, sweetheart.

    Colorado’s sunrises and sunsets are blue and white?

    Also: FAN-FUCKIN-TASTIC interview with David Briles. If one is not a substack subscriber, this one makes it worth it…just sayin’

    I usually don’t hear or see that particular f-bomb-enhancement of “fantastic” used in a positive light; it’s usually yelled or muttered out of frustration and/or exasperation and dripping with sarcasm.

    Well, I think the Denver Broncos might have something to say about the Rapids sunset imagery. They’ve had a saying for years of “If God’s not a Broncos fan, why are sunsets blue and orange”.


    I’m surprised that no one has noticed how Charlotte’s kit has completely embraced the colors of sponsor Ally Bank in lieu of their own club’s colors. It’s not unlike NASCAR driver Alex Bowman’s car design.

    That could be the case. But another look might tell us that the kit shown in UW has the teal and purple colors of the Charlotte Hornets, just like their other color kit has the black and electric blue of the Carolina Panthers.

    I and others have accused MLS of looking bland multiple times over the past few years, so these are all pretty much improvements on that.

    Based on these pictures, all except Charlotte really meant to say “shirt” or “jersey” instead of “kit” because you can’t see anything below the shirt.

    Also, I don’t like the trend of naming each release “the ________ kit” because it just makes me cringe — that’s the kind of marketing nonsense we can’t really be doing if we want non-US soccer fans to take MLS seriously — and I’m going to forget most of the names in five seconds.

    And, yeah, the Substack article is great and shouldn’t be missed.

    Several of those MLS jerseys are quite nice. Better than other higher-profile leagues. Love seeing that Stargell photo. That’s how a MLB uniform should fit.

    I don’t know how Emerald City Supporters feel, and I know you gotta love your team no matter what, but that Sounders kit looks like an RSL knock off.

    My eyes still tear from looking at those ugly MLS shirts and reading all the marketing rubbish, but they also tear in a positive manner because of those lovely baseball pics that go with the story.

    I live just north of Austin. I have no idea how green and black stripes bring a uniquely Austin perspective to anything, now how this is inspired by anything in Austin. Maybe I’m missing something.

    I want to like MLS so much, and lord knows I’ve tried. I actually had season tickets to RBNY 11 years ago the second year of Red Bull Arena which I’m less than 10 miles from. Been watching Premier League/Champions League/FA Cup etc fanatically since the early 00s and actually lived in London for a bit got to experience a season live. English football is the greatest show on Earth, bar none. You go to a match there, you come back and look at American sports and think “oh, that’s cute.” MLS, ironically given the name, just seems minor league to me. My other great love is baseball and MLS reminds me of soccer’s version of minor league baseball. It can be fun to go to a game, tickets are cheap, food is cheap (compared to other sports), but I just can’t truly get emotionally invested and it’s not appointment television.

    Also they need to let clubs (franchises I guess) sign their own kit deals like the rest of the world. Looking at Nike’s other Red Bull kits (Salzburg, Leipzig) and they’re way better than Adidas.

    You said everything I feel, Alex! MLS feels so unfortunately minor league. The quality of the product, the broadcasting, and (most relevant to this story) the kits all feel second class. While this kit (shirt) drop is an improvement from some of the embarrassments of previous MLS seasons, it still feels very minor league to me. The problem starts and stops with the league-wide Adidas contract. Take a lesson from European football and give individual teams the opportunity to sign their own contracts. It will force more creativity and uniqueness from the competing manufacturers.

    And if you’re still not convinced that MLS is minor league, look at the gimmicks and story-telling in these designs. No one does jersey gimmicks better than the minor leagues.

    Not a soccer fan so it is hard for me to have a valid opinion on this. So I am curious what actual soccer fans think regarding what I would call the sublimated pattern in a lot of these designs.
    Are these sublimated, and somewhat detailed designs even really visible during the game? Do they actually bring anything to the jersey/uniforms that makes it a good design?
    I tend to think solids or fairly obvious stripes work better. This sublimated stuff feels like it is there just to be there and not be a solid or stripe or color block design.

    I consider myself a soccer kit aficionado. The sublimated patterns are definitely prevalent in Europe’s high profile leagues and with many national teams. I don’t have any sources to back this up, but my opinion is that they have become necessary to differentiate kits due to the fact that most teams release two or three new uniforms every season.

    The less subtle designs probably will be visible on TV, the other ones will only be visible in close-ups if that (but there are a lot of those). I tend to think those patterns usually add something to the design, yeah, unless it’s blatantly obvious from the marketingspeak that it’s there just to be there.

    I like the new Philadelphia Union kits. Especially now that Thomas’ English Muffins are on the front rather than Bimbo.

    Disagree strongly. This is tan/light blue camo, which has nothing to do with the team. And it replaces perhaps their best shirt ever, the lightning bolts.

    Each of these looks like a generic template you could order from a catalog or website of soccer uniforms. Any youth soccer league could put out these designs. I think it’s just how soccer goes across all leagues. It’s just a patterned shirt with an ad and a small logo on it.

    I’m a Revolution fan and I really really like the new jersey.

    I was so disappointed that they went through their entire rebrand (which I am still on the fence about) and their first ever kit to feature it last year was, quite literally, a plain navy jersey.

    Their previous change kit was… drumroll please… a plain white jersey.

    So, I like that they, and Adidas, are taking a few more chances this year. And that seems to be the case leaguewide.

    Paul, your substack interview with David Briles was fantastic. Man I wish MY dad played in the majors. That was so cool.

    With giant ads across the fronts of all these jerseys, it’s impossible for me to take any of them seriously. That being said, I’m curious what fans of the Portland Timbers think about having Air Alaska as their primary advertiser. I’m from Ohio and it would kill me to see “Air Michigan” or “Air Pennsylvania” across the front of an Ohio team’s jersey.

    Timbers fan here. I never thought of it like that — Alaska Airlines has always seemed like a Pacific NW thing, not just Alaska — it’s a popular airline (my personal fave as well) and it has always felt right as an advertiser.

    Largely I think these new uniforms are a plus, with the notable exceptions of Austin (love the colors, hate the mismatched stripes) and Seattle (like the pattern, but those are Seattle’s colors at all). I agree with the anti-Adidas sentiment, less templating would be a big plus.

    Seattle having a Rhode Island city name on the front of their jerseys also looks bizarre to me. They couldn’t find an advertiser with a more local name?

    What an awful group of jerseys from MLS. None are even slightly good. It amazes me to think that an organization paid money to a professional designer to design a jersey like the ones shown.

    “It looks cool and it’s tough to come up with a new concept every two years” is a perfectly adequate justification. It’s insulting to one’s intelligence to pretend like plaid is somehow reflects “the tight-knit relationship between the club and the community,” especially given the current conflict between the club and its supporters over the domestic violence of one of its ex-players. If you need to justify it at all, just say “plaid feels vaguely related to the Pacific Northwest.”

    Am I the only one who kept asking themselves “where’s the 17 they’re talking about?” on the Atlanta United jersey only to find out it’s sewn on the back of the neckline and probably not visible unless you’re watching on TV?

    In their defense, they prolly can’t put a big #17 (or even a small 17 — or possibly even “UN17ED”) anywhere on the uni that would confuse/distract from the players’ actual number. But honestly, I don’t know if that’s prohibited (perhaps someone who is more knowledgable on kit number protocol could chime in).

    I haven’t ever seen equipment regulations that would apply to MLS, but from the ones I have seen, no, I don’t think that would be allowed.

    “Ohhh, I’m exhausted. I’ve been on this street a thousand times. It’s never looked so strange. The faces…so cold. In the distance, a child is crying. Fatherless…a bastard child, perhaps. My back aches…my heart aches…but my feet …my feet are resilient! Thank God I took off my heels, and put on my… HIMALAYAN WALKING SHOES! Yes! ”

    That’s how it’s done, MLS!

    What would the MD Anderson Cancer Center Strikethrough be called?

    Outside of being an Advertisment, I think the strikethrough is as clever as all those negative space logos we have seen through the years.

    RE: David Briles interview.

    I agree Paul, bring back Family Days. It humanized the players and was a great example of how baseball binds the generations.

    As for David keeping those Family Day baseball uniforms, I suspect his Mom had something to do with that. ;-)

    I am fascinated that Philly put their secondary logo in the front of the jersey. I don’t recall seeing another soccer team do that before.

    I am fascinated that Philly put their secondary logo in the front of the jersey. I don’t recall seeing another soccer team do that before.

    I like soccer shirts to be clear and obvious, not clouded in gimmicky patterns and storytelling. I therefore have not liked too many soccer shirts for the past 25 years but these new MLS ones are all very forced and downright ugly. Except for maybe Atlanta and maybe NYCFC (I like the tiles pattern) but the storytelling ruins it all. The only storytelling needed is history: these are our team colors, they have been like that for the last 130 years, and this is a new variation on this theme. Away shirts are good for experimenting if needed or wanted, but home shirts should never change too much.

    You do of course realize MLS doesn’t have a 130 year history. In fact, it doesn’t even have a 30 year history.

    Didn’t see anyone mention this yet (sorry if I missed it!), but it looks like all the clubs are switching to the newer/simpler Adidas logo this year. Comparison: link

    The Revs could have used this design to hype up the Freedom Trail in Boston, as it originally looked like a streak of blood throughout the streets.

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