Football and Fashion: Grading the New MLS Kits (Part One)


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Here at, we care mostly about what happens between the lines. Yet we are also fans of the fashionable side of football, thus inspiring a review of the 16 new kits rolled out by 12 Major League Soccer clubs at the outset of the 2013 season. Have a look at what three of our writers (Nick, Matt, and Brett) had to say about some of the new looks for Season 18.

NOTE: Click the blue text to see an image of each jersey for yourself!

Philadelphia Union third kit
Nick: The Union have made some questionable jersey choices in their short history, but this homage to Bethlehem Steel FC nails it. Clean and classy, this new black and white shirt combines Philadelphia’s rich footballing past with its evolving present. I am a big fan of third kits that are not in the club’s primary colors and this is no exception. Paying tribute always earns points, but when the jersey looks as sharp as this one, it’s a winner. (A+)

Matt: Love the homage to Bethlehem Steel because they rocked the U.S. Open Cup back in the day and I love that tournament. Also, the black jersey with the retro BIMBO logo is a nice break from the in-your-face BIMBO on the other two kits. (A)

Brett: One of my favorites from the new debuts this season. Paying homage to Bethlehem Steel FC, this strip will be worn three times throughout the year, including during the season-opener vs. Sporting Kansas City. Love the black and white theme, shoulder stripes, and large red non-traditional Bimbo logo on the chest. Well done. (A-)

Toronto FC primary kit
Nick: While I don’t know how much I like the argyle pattern, I do, however, really like the deeper-red maple leaf in the center. I gave this shirt a B mostly because I respect the Canadian pride put into it, as TFC was Canada’s first MLS club. I tend to shy away from shirts with too much going on, but this shirt isn’t so bad. It looks particularly sharp in long sleeves. (B)

Matt: It’s a little busy, in my opinion, but they got the whole Canadian pride thing figured out. I dig it, eh. (B-)

Brett: I like this a lot. Cool, meaningful background image does not take too much away from the kit itself. (A-)

Sporting Kansas City primary kit
Nick: This shirt is a combination of a bit of old school with a bit of new school. Multi-colored shirts need to be simple, otherwise it looks like there is too much going on and this one does a good job of that. I like that the primary lighter blue is at the forefront, while the secondary darker blue is an accent. The shirt will certainly look sharp on the field. (B+)

Matt: I like how the light blue breaks with the angle of the crest on the jersey. I think I would have rated this one higher if I didn’t enjoy the all baby blue primary from last season so much. (B)

Brett: As weird as it seems, I think that my favorite part about this shirt is something which very few people even see: the checkerboard pattern of the inner neckline. That’s pretty slick. I like—not love—the 1/3 of the left side being a darker shade of blue than the majority of the shirt. These two shades of blue work well together. What I don’t like are the opposite color shoulder stripes. (B)

Houston Dynamo primary kit
Nick: Like the Sounders new home shirt, it is hard to judge this one because it is very similar to most home shirts the Dynamo have worn. However, this one gets a better grade because it is a huge improvement over last season’s version with the weird patterns. The new home shirt is clean cut, simple and bold, which deserves its due credit. However, it’s not special like some of the other primary shirts. (B)

Matt: The primary/secondary kits are virtually the same with the colors inverted. Not much innovative, artistic thought to them like some of the other clubs. Don’t even get me started on the tertiary jersey. My eyes haven’t stopped bleeding. (F)

Brett: Pretty solid. I’ve always liked the orange and I really like the addition of the Texas state flag and the deletion of that silly pattern from last season. Only thing I don’t like about this jersey is that due to the sleeves, it looks like every player is the captain. (B+)

Houston Dynamo secondary kit
Nick: I am not a big fan of white shirts, but this one isn’t bad. It is rather over-simple, however, with no flare to it other than the Texas flag on the bottom. It’s tough to give this shirt a bad grade because there is nothing egregious about it, but I won’t give it a high grade because it’s boring. This is an average shirt at best, but Houston did well with the primary. (C+)

Matt: Same as above.

Brett: Looks too much like a training top. Match has started, guys, put on the jerseys… (C-)

Houston Dynamo tertiary kit
This one isn’t new. But no. Just…no.

Seattle Sounders secondary kit
Nick: The shirt is simple yet stylish and reminds me of the USMNT jersey from 2006. I love the choice of shale as the primary color with the dignified green-blue stripe down the left side. The shirt is sharp and fun, but the shale projects a seriousness in the club’s intentions to win the MLS Cup. This shirt is certainly one of their better ones in recent history. (A)

Matt: I love the single, hip looking strike down the left side. Also, I’m an Xbox over PS3 guy. (A-)

Brett: Awesome. From a distance it looks as though the two stripes along the left side are lines, but up close you can see the breaks. Really like how the lines are thicker at the bottom and then kind of fade out as it gets near the neckline. I hope to see this one often in 2013. (A)

Seattle Sounders primary kit

Nick: I guess the major fault of the primary shirt is that it is too plain and predictable. The rave green has been a staple of Sounders home shirts, but this one is really not much different than last year’s version. However, the blue on the sides is definitely an upgrade from last season’s shirt. The jersey isn’t bad, it’s just nothing spectacular. (B-)

Matt: Both are such an upgrade from the bra strap kit from years past. I love the subtle space needle on the right chest and the color is classic Seattle. (B+)

Brett: Clean, classic, cool. Glad Seattle dropped the backpack straps from the past few years: I never liked those. Space needle outline on the right side of the kit is awesome. (A-)

Montreal Impact third kit

Nick: I love almost everything about this kit. The jersey pays homage to the first Impact team in 1993. This season will be the club’s 20th anniversary and I think this shirt is a great tribute. Being a fan of Italian football, the vertical stripes remind me of AC Milan, Inter and Juventus shirts of the past. I also really like the two-buttoned collar. Only thing keeping it from an A is that I prefer thinner stripes than fat ones, but I’m being picky. (A-)

Matt: The only thing that saves this kit is the collar. The design looks too much like Inter but if you’re going to commit to the stripes include them on the back as well. (C+)

Brett: I like this! Like that it’s a throwback to the club’s inaugural 1993 season and just think it has a neat look to it. Only thing I don’t like about it is the contrast in stripe sizes from the thin adidas ones on each shoulder to the thick ones across the chest. (B+)

Stay tuned for the remaining eight jersey reviews in the near future!

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2 Responses to Football and Fashion: Grading the New MLS Kits (Part One)

  1. Alex says:

    I wasn’t sure what to think of the Union’s kit. I always love the soccer triple strips up the sleeves. Can’t go wrong with that in my book. I just have a pet peeve about two colors without contrast. A red bimbo logo on a black jersey is harder to read, especially if your trying to attract attention — ahem, Bimbo. I’m nitpicking, I know. Paying homage is always a cool thing (except when the Eagles wore those ghastly blue and gold throwbacks!)

    The new MLS font for names and numbers is a home run, to use a baseball metaphor on a soccer site. I never really warmed to that digital-like font. The new font reminds me of the Premier League.

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