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Your Team-by-Team 2024 NWSL Kit Preview

[Editor’s Note: Our own Jamie Rathjen is both our resident soccer expert and our resident women’s sports expert, so he’s handling our NWSL season preview. Enjoy! — Paul]

By Jamie Rathjen

The NWSL released new uniforms for all its teams Tuesday. Every team now has a light and dark-colored kit, but teams can choose which one is primary or secondary.

Also, no team has white shorts, with league outfitter Nike saying players found them a distraction. But there are still quite a few instances of light-colored shorts.

If you’re a sucker for brightly-colored uniforms like I am, you’re going to be a big fan of this set of releases. If you aren’t, consider yourself warned.

Every team’s second shirt uses a common template that divides the entire look into two halves. The dividing line goes down the shirt from the right armpit to the bottom left. So from the viewer’s perspective the left and right halves, including the shorts and socks on the left half, are different colors. Some of these designs are more obviously two-colored than others. To accommodate them, some teams have switched which color is first- or second-choice compared to past practice.

The result of the changes is that a few of these shirts are really packed with character. But many aren’t, and even the marketingspeak that came with them struggles to connect those designs, especially the templated ones, to anything meaningful.

The season starts March 15 with the Challenge Cup, which is now a super cup-style game instead of a full tournament. A super cup is usually a season-opener between the league and cup winner of the previous season.

With all of that in mind, here’s the team-by-team breakdown:

Angel City

The black first shirt uses a pattern of the wings from the bird in the team’s logo, which isn’t obvious at first but is one of the nicer ideas this year. Pink is a frequent second-choice color for the Los Angeles team, but because of the Nike template it’s being presented as a solid design for the first time.

Bay FC

The new Bay Area expansion team has a nice Gothic “B” in its logo that could easily stand alone as a crest, and I’m glad they did that. The two shirts deal in white, black, and orange. Their first shirt is white and it suffers from the plain white T-shirt fever that is still lingering in US soccer. Some grey additions don’t do much to fix it up.

The second shirt adds some color with its very baseball Giants-esque scheme. Both shirts have a small inaugural season patch near the bottom.

Chicago Red Stars

The roughly Chicago-flag-blue first shirt has a lot of different patterns on it, radiating out from the crest. All of them have definitely appeared on soccer shirts, just not Red Stars shirts. So I feel like it more accurately represents different soccer teams than the would-be storytelling aspect, which is that it represents Chicago’s diversity. Any one of the patterns done on their own would look amazing in this color scheme.

The second shirt is darker blue, which I would ordinarily say is not a good idea but I think the blues are different enough for it to work.

Gotham FC

Gotham seems to want to make the sash a thing after going away from it last season, which is fine, but plastering a sash over a gradient — a different gradient than the Nike template — basically so they could have a black sash on a black first shirt is not doing it for me. The result is a little busy.

The second shirt is sky blue, the return of which is probably a little overdue but welcome for a team that was formerly Sky Blue FC.

Houston Dash

The orange first shirt has a faint pattern of white hoops and is supposed to represent other local teams’ jerseys but it’s not obvious to me what the connection is. It also serves as a 10th-anniversary shirt.

The second shirt is sky blue, which has been an accent color for a while but hasn’t been featured this prominently in a few years, so like Gotham a reappearance is probably overdue.

Kansas City Current

The Current just became the first women’s sports team to build their own stadium — exorbitant parking costs and all — but their kits aren’t that different from previous seasons. They’re going with solid red again, paired with a white and teal effort in the common template.

I have not seen any full pictures of the red kit, but KC’s red/red/teal first-choice combo is pretty distinctive and I hope it stays.

North Carolina Courage

The blue first shirt has a triangle motif because “The Triangle” is a nickname for the Raleigh-Durham area where the Courage play, which is fair enough.

The second kit is a pink-to-red gradient. Red is a part of the crest and hasn’t been used in any designs before this one, so it’s probably about time that it appeared, but I find pink a really odd choice to pair with it. It could have easily been a different shade of red, perhaps closer to the one actually used in the crest.

Orlando Pride

Purple has been relegated to the second shirt. If that one lacks creativity, it’s overshadowed by the orange first shirt that definitely doesn’t. It is an ode to the fruit. Those are oranges throughout the front of the shirt, with teal accents thrown in.

It comes with teal numbers that I don’t think will be visible. I admire the commitment to the orange bit, but it’s not great that the Nike template led to the Pride emphasizing something that will be gone in the next two years over what’s established as their primary color.

Portland Thorns

The Thorns are back to wearing red as first choice after a few years of black and white, this time with gold accents and what is allegedly a pattern of thorns. The second shirt is blue, not black. For a team that had some really interesting designs during its black and white period, this is going way back to the basics, and not in a particularly good way.

Racing Louisville

The argyle-patterned first shirt is certainly creative and reflects the horse racing aspect of the team’s name to the greatest extent in team history. To make room for this design, purple flipped from first to second choice.

San Diego Wave

I’d been waiting for the Wave to properly use their pink, orange, and turquoise accents after two seasons of blue and white shirts, and here they’ve used all of them at once. The first shirt is white with splotches of the aforementioned accent colors that form sunsets. The second shirt is solid pink.

The team unusually included a third blue shirt described as a pre-match shirt with its release. I’m wondering if that might make an in-game appearance since I don’t think either of the other shirts would be a great idea to wear for an away game in Houston in particular. But overall, well done, San Diego.

Seattle Reign

The Reign are back to their original name after a few years as OL Reign, but not quite their original color scheme. Silver elements in the original crest have been replaced with gold, which also appears in the dark blue first shirt. That’s always a nice color combo. As an aside, the trend of American teams giving their shirts names has reached the point of absurdity because this one and the Thorns’ second shirt are both called “The Reflection Kit.”

The white second shirt’s template is barely noticeable here and it for some reason has a red swoosh when red appears nowhere else.

Utah Royals

The second incarnation of the Royals is back where the first one left off, with a yellow and blue color scheme. The yellow first shirt has an extremely faint mountain pattern and comes with blue shorts, which is the right decision.

The blue second shirt uses the common Nike template and transitions from a lighter to a darker shade of blue.

Washington Spirit

The Spirit spent the entire offseason in a protracted soft-launching of yellow as a new team color. Every social media graphic and merch drop for a few months has included yellow, so I found myself wishing we could just see how they planned to use it on their kits.

The answer is a yellow second shirt in the common template, which is a decent enough start. I think both the Spirit and Royals did good modern takes on yellow, which is a pretty traditional secondary/away/goalie color in soccer. I think black shorts would have looked way better than yellow here, though. We can always hope for a mashup.

The first kit continues to be mono-black and the shirt has a pattern of broken stripes on it. It’s supposed to primarily represent columns on area buildings. The bottom teasingly looks like the geography of the area — the triangle at the wearer’s bottom left could be the northern part of DC — and I feel like they could have leaned into that for this design.

Comments (21)

    How much cooler would all of these look if they had team names instead of advertisers on the front.

    That said, there are some interesting designs, like San Diego and Orlando. But in the end, I like Kansas City and Utah’s kits the most.

    In my opinion, U.S. soccer leagues’ obsession with a league-wide brand identity negatively impacts their kit designs. The NWSL has had some of the best uniform designs in any sport/league globally. Many of these are still good and a couple are excellent. However, I find that this new commitment to a unifying identity has dampened the quality of the kits across the board.

    Yeah, it makes a big difference that the template was “you must use this for your second kit” instead of even “you must use this for one kit, but decide which one.” It’s certainly a negative of the US one-manufacturer model when it ends up like that.

    League-wide kit deals (Nike with NWSL and Adidas with MLS) are awful. At least USL, NISA, and other leagues don’t force their teams to use, what in many cases, are expensive and mediocre quality tops in addition to being lame templates.

    In 2022/23 the Orlando Pride were charging $100 for a sublimated Nike top that had a flat vinyl iron-on crest on it. MLS prices are outrageous and the replicas don’t even come with all the design details.

    Let each club pick who they want to do business with. And most importantly, they need final say over ALL design choices. There’s no way every single NWSL team would have decided to go with that lame gradient template if given the option not to.

    Really nice job with his rundown, Jamie! I appreciate how you are the go-to voice on the NWSL in our comm-uni-ty. I’m definitely learned a ton about the league and its aesthetics from you.

    It’s hard to disagree with any of your opinions of these uniforms. I think my favorite is San Diego’s first kit, which is quite bold and daring, but really works for a team trying to embrace a “sunset at the beach” vibe.

    Why do so many of these teams not show the pants and socks? It looks pretty amateur to have these modeled with jeans.

    Why do so many of these teams not show the pants and socks?

    Because they care more about selling the jerseys as lifestyle apparel than they care about showing us what they’ll wear on-field.

    Yep. It has always surprised me that people will buy a soccer jersey that has a giant advertisement on it, to the point where it’s hard to see what team that jersey is actually for.

    While I agree that it would be nice to see the full kits, more fashion-focused photoshoots have been common in the soccer world for at least 20 years, and many other sports have followed suit.

    That actually doesn’t normally bother me, but it did this time because I didn’t like the pictures Nike put out. It was really difficult to see any of the shirts’ details, which is why there’s a decent number of online store pics this time (I normally try to avoid those but there were also time constraints involved).

    There’s a partial thread of players in uniform here. link

    Some teams posted additional pics besides those.

    How come no pictures of what the back numbers look like or the color on a given jersey? Are there player names on the back? Is the font for all of these standard or team specific?

    Yes, there’s a standard font. That’s something we usually have to do without for whatever reason with soccer releases, but the Spirit did post some back pictures.

    I wouldn’t expect anybody except San Diego (and Orlando’s teal numbers that I mentioned, but my guess is they may have to change that) to have the numbers in really interesting colors just because leaguewide fonts only come in a few colors. A lot stick with black and white, but occasionally other colors appear if it makes sense.

    Great review Jamie!

    So nice to see the Wave depart from their solid and boring kits of their first few years. Although Bay FC is picking up the slack on solid and boring.

    I can dig the Red Stars kit, I thought the same thing yesterday, it contains just about every stripe that’s appeared on a soccer kit, just not all of their soccer kits.

    Utah has the worst jersey advertiser, just not a good look there.

    Portland, a team that used to have such a strong identity and solid kit now looks so generic and the colors just don’t say “Portland” at all.

    Not sure how this league wide designed by Nike thing is going to go as I feel like the truly solid kids Portland, Chicago and others have put out in the past were done my local designers and I don’t see Nike reaching out for that input. We’ll see how the secondary kits turn out next year, maybe Nike will surprise us.

    For some reason all the pattern jerseys seem to be a lot more attractive in these sets, even though I usually lean towards simpler designs.
    Washington, Orlando and Chicago have great motifs, love the oranges don’t know why….
    Thanks Jamie pretty cool breakdowns… these uniforms would look so much better if they would tone down the ads

    Advertisements notwithstanding….

    I usually don’t like crazy graphics patterns, but I actually do like that Chicago window-break jersey. That’s a great color scheme they have. KC’s whole set is pretty good, too, especially their primary. Utah’s set looks really nice.

    The diagonal gradient could be fine for one team, if it was a specific design element, but seeing it on every team is a negative. Soccer has a bit more precedent for this than some other sports, but it really takes away from the uniqueness of the teams. I think most of these teams would look better without the diagonal gradient.

    All I see is ADS. They’re so jarring. It really is hard for me to see the uniforms. Great write-up, though. Well done.

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