Ranking all the MLS Kits (so far)(UPDATE)


With FCC unveiling its first kit since the top flight rebrand this week, it seems appropriate to take a look at the rest of the league’s 2019 threads.

The MLS is a growing league and the best fertilizer for a league is innovative branding. Nothing in the fashion adjacent world of soccer attracts more attention than a fresh-looking kit. A great example of this is the record-breaking sales of Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup campaign. American kits have been a point of contention for football fashionistas; having birthed some of the most iconic kits, such as the Metrostars’ or the Kansas CityWizards’ kits of 1996, and the monstrosity that is the Colorado Caribous’ 1978 kit. A quick word on that ’78 kit, tassels, really? Did my hippie aunt design this thing? This kit is the sole reason it has taken America so long to catch onto soccer. Anyways, in an effort to provide feedback on the league’s current foray into fashion we’ll be ranking all of the MLS kits (so far).

"Y'all ever heard of white Secondary kits"

Minnesota United FC Secondary
This is probably one of the laziest attempts at a kit. For one thing the color of the details and the sponsor don't match. Other kits at least had some interesting details to them but this Minnesota kit is just a reversed version of a primary. The back-collar logo is just a simpler version of the crest. With the white being the base color of the kit, some of the color details of the crest are lost. That is Minnesota’s biggest crime with this kit, not doing anything interesting with one of the most unique crests in world soccer.


[Sad Cowboy Emoji]

FC Dallas Secondary
Pretty standard as far as a secondary kit goes. The logo and trim fit perfectly against the solid white. My favorite part of the kit is the flag on the back. It’s bold and immediately recognizable. This kit is just the underachieving little brother of the Philadelphia Union shirt. It’s supposed to be a “reunion” kit, which I’m not sure what that’s suppose to mean. I guess it’s celebrating the reunion of MLS and questionable design choices. However, it doesn’t feel like there was ever a parting of the two.

"I look as boring as this kit does"
Colorado Rapids Secondary
Ah a new secondary kit I wonder what color it is? Blue? Green? Red? Nope still white. The official name of this kit is “Black Diamond” but I won’t waste such a cool name on such a lame kit. Burgundy looks great on the logo and sponsor and the back-color detail is nice. Though it looks a like a Wal-Mart brand t-shirt.
Wayne Rooney? more like Lame Rooney am I right?

DC United Secondary

Oh boy, one of the more exciting teams have released a new kit! I’m sure it’ll be impressive since they just added Premier League legend Wayne Rooney. It couldn’t possible just a plain white kit like every other one in the whole freaking league. (If this joke went over your head here is little hint. It’s another white kit.) I refuse to review this kit. Open up your dresser, grad an undershirt, spread it out on your bed, and there you have it folks most of the league’s kits. 
About as entertaining as TV static.

LAFC Secondary 
Ah, this isn't just a white kit. Oh no. We are much more creative than that. We have a trite slogan about how much we care about our fans Just not enough to design an original kit that looks good and represents the club. But that's not all, we have an edgy tech inspired design that looks so different from the LA Galaxy one. Because if we're anything, its not them. I mean come on does Galaxy have a hip logo with a cookie cutter slogan? I don't think so.  
Like texting your ex after a night out. Not the best choice but it'll do.

FC Cincinnati Secondary
It’s nothing special but at least FCC had the courage to go all white. I’m a big fan of solid colored kits like these, but I wish they would have dropped the horizontal lines for something better. Maybe something like DIAMONDS? I don’t know, just a thought. The kit’s biggest crime is that there is nothing to say about it.
"Good evening do you have time to talk about our lord and savior Red Bull?"

New York Red Bulls Primary
It’s a Red Bulls kit, so you know what that means. Semi-geometric aesthetics, a gnarly sponsorship, and those weird letters on the back that only German clubs do.  The colors match nicely but that’s about it. Apparently, the pattern on the front is just a larger, flipped version of the saying on the hip. That slogan on the hip comes off as trite while the back lettering doesn’t match still. Until they make it cohesive it will always, always look dumb. As always, the sponsor looks pretty tight though, as is the case with all Red Bull teams, it’s just another way for the team to remind us to buy the energy drink.  
"Please God, get me out of here. I'll go anywhere. Even Louisville." 

Montreal Impact Primary
Montreal looked like they copied the Inter Milan kit and hastily changed it to avoid a lawsuit. The sponsor coloring and font are good. I just think the logo should either become the central piece or be omitted. To be honest, there isn’t much of a point for me to review this kit. Just look up a review of this year’s Inter kit then take whatever the review said and make it even more negative.
This kit will be fire when I use it for kindling. 

Chicago Fire Primary and Secondary
Okay so I’m kind of cheating by lumping both of the Second City’s kits together here but honestly, they are the same thing. Not only are they just inverse versions of each other but they look like every single Fire kit I’ve seen. Also adding the Motorola “M” on the sponsor just look goofy. Every aspect of this kit is derivative and boring. I was expecting better from the same club that gave us the 2005 flag kit.

Disappointed the computer from adventure time wasn't the actual sponsor.

Toronto FC Primary
Well designed, a nice color, and completely forgettable. The sponsor isn’t distracting and the darker toned sleeve stripes are nice touch. The spacing of the “all for one” on the back is a little off, plus the font makes it look a little goofy. It’s just really, really boring.
"Good evening sir, I'll have the league back to you by August"

Sounders FC Primary
It’s basically the same kit as before just brighter. I’ve never been a fan of the Buzz Lightyear color combo and this rendition does the club even less favors in my opinion. Again, Adidas just refuses to use a set number of colors for the sponsor and logo.  I’ve mentioned it so many times in this article, that if you were playing a drinking game for it, you’d probably need your stomach pumped. (Note: neither I, the writer of this article, or Bailey Banter condone irresponsible drinking.) Props to Sounders for using a local sponsor on this one though.
Technically not a white kit. So, I'm not allowed to make fun of it.

New England Revolution Colonial
New England had good intentions with this kit but the road to mediocrity is paved with good intentions. There are some great ideas here. For example, the single strip design, the sponsor placement, and the flags are all great. It’s just the coloring that messes it up. The cream stripe and white outside are just to similar to be noticeable. Despite it being called a “colonial” kit, there isn’t much that references the American Revolution, save the flag on the back.  Maybe if the primary color was a darker blue the kit would look cleaner while citing its historical inspiration.
This kit just screams Fix You by Coldplay 

Columbus Crew Primary
Nothing spectacular this year, but nothing heinous either.  The color and sleeve stripes look good but it’s the same combo we’ve come to expect from our neighbor’s in the north. Having a fading checkered pattern is a good idea, but it could have been implemented better. I think moving the pattern to the sleeves and switching the darker yellow for straight black would make the kit stand out a bit more. Alternatively having a checkered horizontal stripe or a vertical one on the side would have made the kit a bit more unique.

"This star is the only good addition to this kit.

Atlanta United Primary
Not much of a difference from last year’s kit but a decent showing from the defending champs. The gold shoulder stripes were replaced with red ones, which in my opinion, is a little sharper. Having the sponsorship in gold strikes that perfect balance between making the lettering pop without it being obnoxious. I’m a sucker for any sort of details that tells the story of the club. So, of course, I am a huge fan of the gold Georgia state logo as well as the spike on the back collar. However, the back is sad. It looks like they just gave up after doing the front.
Add as much lasers you want Galaxy you can't hide that monstrosity 

LA Galaxy Secondary

Truly, the only positive thing I can say about this kit, is that the colors look nice. This kit it the monstrous love child of the Atlanta Untied and NYRB kits. The same glitchy geometric patterns Adidas has used since forever, the lack of lines on the back, and the disgusting hip logo. “This is LA” couldn’t be more plastic. The stars look okay. The best thing about this kit I that it at least tries to look different but honestly it comes off as superficial. Reminds me of someplace, I can’t quite put my finger on it though. 
"At least Little B likes us." 

San Jose Earthquake Primary
This one is simple but sometimes you don’t need to do something crazy to create a good-looking kit. The crest looks fire, as always, and its geometry blends well with the rest of the kit. The loss of a main sponsor doesn’t take much away from the kit. It’s not busy and the lines are super clean. Honestly a great, simple kit. The back detail avoids the mistakes that Toronto made by using a simple, unobtrusive font.
"See what's in my hands? it's the amount of time Adidas spent on these kits."

Philadelphia Union Secondary
Secondary kits usually run pretty plain. Often times they’re just a solid white shirt with some team colors sprinkled around. Union mixed it up a bit here with the navy ray pattern spreading out from the snake at the hip. The black trim and detail are fresh, especially the logo on the back. What can I say? Snakes are cool.  It’s not the most stunning thing in the world but I have to give props to Philadelphia for changing to formula a bit for a unique kit.
"Just act natural. They won't even notice its the same kit."

Portland Timbers Primary
Nothing too special form the Timber. Essentially the same kit they’ve had in the previous years just with a change in the shade of green. Though, as the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The lines around the sleeves and collar that Adidas has forced on most of the MLS kits looks at home on Portland’s shirt. In particular, the back-collar logo looks clean. What can I say? Axes are cool.
Didn't know Barney was a footy fan.

Orlando City SC Primary
This kit perfects the geometrical details that so many other shirts have failed to pull off. It’s hard to take a solid color kit and make it shine, but Orlando really put their best foot forward on this one. The detail pattern and color are impeccable and I love the darker sleeve stripes. The darker colors on the kit create a great canvas for the crest to glow from. My only critique is that the hip and back collar logos should match the gold on the team crest and MLS logo rather than white.
This kit looks like it was hit by a truck, literally.

Sporting Kansas City Primary
The glitchy diagonal stripes are super fresh on this kit. I just wish the continued all the way up the sleeves to really round out the look.  The silver outlining on the crest was a nice way for the designers to make sure the crest is noticeable. It lacks some of the neat details that are present in other kits but the stripes make up for it in a big way.

"Hey I'm Walmart brand Adam Levine. Buy this kit, it's the only thing good about this club."

Real Salt Lake Secondary
This kit has potential to be one of the greats in my opinion. It takes the same concept that FC Dallas and Philadelphia Union tried but gave it that extra touch of flair. The glitchy red lines in tandem with the bold sleeve stripes makes this kit both unique and palatable. It reminds me of a more organic looking 2019 Manchester United kit with the way the stripes solidify towards the bottom of the shirt. The all red crest looks way better than the original and far to busy one. Despite all the great qualities this kit has, I do have two reservations. The positioning and color on the back-collar detail is kind of weird. Also, the sponsor should be red; the blue just makes the kit a bit uneven.
I rate this kit 7 yee-haws out of 10

Houston Dynamos Primary

Houston did good with this one. The orange is bright but strays from the dated shade they’ve used in the past. This kit works really well with the three-stripe template. The stripes are a good move but I wish the colors contrasted a bit more just to bring out the pattern better. Big fan of the detail on the sponsorship. All in all, a creative, cool little kit, it’s just tied down by the templating of Adidas. Surprise, surprise. 
This kit just asked me if I've ever heard of Fall Out Boy. 

Seattle Sounders Nightfall 
Actually kind of nice. I'm happy to see the Sounders stray away from the Buzz Light year kit and go into some new territory. Pink and black is a color combo that we haven't seen in the MLS so its good to see at least a little bit of creativity from the brains as Adidas. Side stripes, tight, different colored sponsor, lame. The details on the hip and back color is cool. All in all a good kit idea on a lame template. 
*Adidas kisses fingers fingers like an Italian chef after making another templated kit.

FC Cincinnati Primary
Okay, this may seem biased, but this kit is pretty dang good all things considered.
Also, this is an FC Cincinnati blog so this shouldn’t come as the biggest shock. All the elements gel really well together. The pattern is nice. Adidas didn’t fall completely flat on its face with the typical geometric pattern. The glitchy strips look good in orange. FCC one-ups Seattle by having a local sponsor that actually looks good on the shirt. All that being said there are some major problems with this kit. Namely, and this is a really common one, is that its templated. Adidas really squandered a great opportunity to flex some designing muscles. Another thing is the absences of details. Now I haven’t seen a ton of close-ups on the kit yet so this may be subject to change. There are so many little symbols that the club could use to identify itself with. A sword, lion, or crown, on the back collar would be nice. Keeping the Bavarian diamonds was an easy home-run that was wasted as well. It’s clean looking and we’ll all remember it because it’s our first MLS kit, but it could have been so much more. Despite all these things, the more I look at it, the more I love it.
Canada: Beating the USA in everything except in healthcare cost

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Primary
The Whitecaps went with a throwback look with their 2019 kit and they pull it off spectacularly. First of all, the color is slick. It reminds me of the shirts AS Roma won the cup in, which are possible some of the sickest collared kits of Serie A history. The horizontal strip and sponsor combo look clean as can be. The cherry on top of this retro ensemble is the Canadian maple leaf on the collar and the Vancouver seal. They're bold, old school, and really capture the pride of the club.

Like is said before kits are the primary way fans and clubs present themselves to the world. We all have a have a running list of kits that have made us audibly gasp when we see them. For me, it was Liverpool’s Candy kit from the 80s. Something about the pattern and the brightness of the color made me lose it. With Adidas being the only kit provider for the MLS, we have lost some the panache that prevailed in the past. For the MLS to be that hot new league that it claims to be, it needs some fresh kits. Look to the J-League as an example. their kits are beautiful, flamboyant and above all else, special. The MLS can get a piece of that pie too if it tries. Whether it’s changing up the brand deal or allowing for more club/fan input in the design process, each club needs a shirt that makes their fans point and say “that’s our shirt, that’s my club.”

Comments

  1. Awesome read, yes I was wondering why I liked the Orlando kit so much, despite that purple and their coach! And I wore enough collars that I never want to wear them again!

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