2010 MLS Uniforms Unveiled
MLS has struggled in the uniform department. There was the very inauspicious beginnning, then an understandable overreaction in the opposite direction that produced a series of drab, indistinguishable uniforms featuring a limited color palette and an inexplicable (and sadly, continuing) obsession with all-white. Today the league is approaching a middle ground, thanks largely to clubs like Houston, Seattle and Philadelphia that aren't afraid to forge a unique identity.
Adidas continues to produce all MLS apparel and sticks mostly to a few templates. The company lately has been fixated on a style we'll call the "Frankenjersey", which like Mary Shelley's monster seems to rely on heavy stitching and many random parts. The company apparently hasn't met piping, zippers, ridges or plackets it doesn't like (see Chelsea's sports-bra monstrosity) and is loathe to let a design or stripe continue on a shirt without some kind of arbitrary interruption. Perhaps that's its stab at a distinctive identity.
This week, adidas posted its new team merchandise catalog on line, allowing FanHouse to offer this glimpse at the jerseys MLS clubs will be wearing in the upcoming season. The "home" shirts, to the left, were described as "authentic" by the company, while the "away" jerseys on the right are "replicas." Overall, it's hard to get excited about the obvious Frankenjersey fixation and the nine white jerseys still on offer. Slowly but surely however, some teams are getting it right, and someday we hope that teams will wear their primary uniforms more often. What do you think? Which are your favorites? What needs to change?
San Jose Earthquakes: The black-and-blue is distinctive, but still doesn't seem right for a club that won titles and made its name in the bright blue of the early 2000s.
Chicago Fire: The red jersey with the white hoop is one of the league's iconic shirts. The execution of this one is poor, however, with the narrowed, angular stripe and weird white piping unecessary elements. The white shirt is a bland copout. It could at least include a red hoop like its predecessors.
Chivas USA: Frankenjersey exhibit A. The away shirt is nice, however. This club understands that one team can wear red and another blue in the same game. We remain befuddled by the fact that a club from one city (Los Angeles) features the symbol of another city (Guadalajara) on its badge.
Colorado Rapids: The burgundy-and-sky blue look is one of the league's best. Let's see if fickle Colorado (they've gone green-and-white and blue-and-black in their short history) can stick with it for more than a few years. Bonus points for not plastering the club name across the front for lack of a sponsor.
Columbus Crew: The same template as Chivas, but the all-yellow minimizes the effect and always looks great on the field. The pinstripes on the away shirt are a nice touch, despite the captain's armbands.
D.C. United: The one team that got it right from the beginning. But it's a shame they couldn't figure out how to leave the white stripes across the front of the shirt once Volkswagen became a sponsor. The all-white away kit has to go. Red shirts or shorts are a must.
FC Dallas: A good idea that's never been executed well. The side panels just make the hoops (they're barely hoops at this point) look awkward, and the red-and-white is just kind of jarring. The blue on the away shirt looks sharper. Maybe red-and-blue hoops are the way to go.
Houston Dynamo: Hard to go wrong with orange, although Houston makes an effort with the silly blue blotches. The sublimated sunburst is great. Orange is great.
Kansas City Wizards: Still have lacked a real identity since they abandoned the rainbow look. Not saying it was a good identity, but at least there was one. These are as forgettable as it gets. An actual logo would be nice as well. How about a yellow away shirt?
Los Angeles Galaxy: The most disappointing rebranding in MLS. The black, teal and gold was a one-of-a-kind look, and the gold-and-green sash was interesting and distinctive as well. Especially the sash. This is just dull and derivative. At least adidas threw some color onto the home shirt this time.
New England Revolution: Do the silver shoulder/arm patches remind you of another team from the Boston area? New England has stuck with the simple navy look since 1996, and it works for them.
Real Salt Lake: Horrible name, but beautiful logo and jersey. Since RSL wants to be Real Madrid so badly, we suppose they're the one club that has an iron-clad excuse for the all-white away uniform. The home shirt is nearly perfect.
New York Red Bulls: The club went to all-white at home last year. Ridiculous. Half the league wears all-white uniforms at some point or another. How could a team with the word "red" in its name not wear a red shirt? And what are those things below the collars?
Seattle Sounders: Already iconic after just one season. If you turn on a game featuring the Sounders, you know immediately who you're watching. Most MLS teams don't care about that. The collars are awkward on these, but overall it's a great look.
Toronto FC: The positioning of the club's beautiful badge and the BMO logo has always seemed awkward, and at this point on the list we're getting tired of adidas' obsession with curvy under-arm and side panels. We'd love to see TFC abandon the ubiquitous monochrome look and go with light shorts at home and red shorts on the road.
Philadelphia Union: Not included in the adidas catalog, so here's a photo. A brilliant design sullied by the Frankenjersey look. The top of the stripe, piping and collar are a mess. But much credit goes to Philadelphia for the distinctive center stripe and colors and the creative away jersey. This look should stand the test of time.