Grading Every MLS Team's New Kits
With the new MLS season set to begin this weekend, clubs across the country have been enjoying American soccer's version of fashion week.
Several teams have released new kits for their upcoming campaign. Some will be looking sharp and fresh this season, and others will be sporting unfortunate looks.
The MLS will start its historic 18th season, making it "the longest-running first division soccer league in American history," according to The Guardian's Graham Parker. But history repeats itself, as some teams failed to learn from the past and will be wearing terrible strips.
Here are grades for each new kit that will be featured in MLS fixtures this season.
Note: Chivas USA's new kit will be graded after it is released.
Colorado Rapids: A
The Colorado Rapids will have new primary and alternate kits for the 2013 season.
The team managed to put together a simple look that still stands out. The signature burgundy is featured in the primary strip, which the Rapids showcased on Twitter:
The stripes on the jersey have the name of every season-ticket holder, making the club the first one to have fans' names on its shirts.
Intriguing details are also featured on the alternate jersey, as the Colorado flag is subtly displayed. The Rapids will be looking sharp this season.
Chivas USA: B
Chivas USA opted not to take any risks with its new away kit, and the club has a look that will not turn any heads, for good or bad reasons.
The dark blue is not a striking color, and the club's signature red complements the main color well.
The team, MLS and Adidas logo all fit nicely without crowding each other. The only interesting detail is the asymmetry on the neck, and this is likely to go mostly unnoticed.
Boring is not always a terrible way to go, and Chivas USA proves that with this decent look.
Houston Dynamo: C
The Houston Dynamo also underwent a makeover this season, and unsurprisingly, the club stayed true to its "Forever Orange" slogan.
The away kits are less fluorescent but still highlight the club's signature color. The Dynamo provided a picture of the white jersey via Twitter:
While people's opinions of these jerseys will mostly depend on how they feel about the color orange, the Dyamno did themselves no favors with the pattern on the sleeves.
This attempt to create contrast was unnecessarily complicated, and the team ultimately botched this year's chance to create a stylish new look.
Los Angeles Galaxy: B
Fresh off winning a second consecutive MLS title, the Los Angeles Galaxy are busting out new secondary kits that include what is easily the nerdiest feature on any MLS uniform.
Adidas product manager Mike Walker refers to the subtle pattern on the team's new jerseys as the quasar, playing on the astronomy theme.
Ultimately, the team kept it simple, making only minor changes such as adding another star to represent its latest championship and putting a tag on the jersey that says, "This is LA." The phrase is an homage to crowd, who have used these words to support the team during matches.
The Galaxy played it safe, leaving little to praise and little to criticize.
Montreal Impact: D
The Montreal Impact are showcasing a new third kit this season that pays homage to the team's jerseys in their first season way back in 1993.
Unfortunately, the club was too successful in its endeavor; the strips look very much like they are from 20 years ago.
There is far too much going on with this jersey. Collars are always a bad idea, and trying to fit the Adidas logo, the team shield, the MLS emblem, the Canadian flag and the club sponsor on top of stripes give it a cluttered look.
Hopefully the Impact plan on using this kit sparingly.
New York Red Bulls: A
Playing in the country's fashion capitol puts the pressure on the New York Red Bulls to wear trendy uniforms, and the club delivered with its new kit.
Having the corporate sponsor and the team name being one and the same gave the designers a chance to showcase the logo, and this is exactly what they did.
The epic scene of bull fighting in front of the sun is prominently featured, and the rest of the jersey's features act as complementary elements.
The Red Bulls got their kit right, most likely because they had to.
Philadelphia Union: B
The Philadelphia Union's new third kit may not be aesthetically pleasing, but at least they have a good story behind them.
Black jerseys should strive to be classic and iconic. Having Bimbo written across the chest of the strip in orange letters makes that pretty much impossible.
According to PhiladelphiaUnion.com's Kerith Gabriel, the kit is meant to honor Bethlehem Steel FC, a club that existed in Bethlehem, Pa. between 1911 and 1930. Sponsored by a steel corporation, this team is an example of the deep roots of American soccer.
It is an homage to the history of the sport and the nature of the people of Philadelphia, so the jersey gets a partial pass for not having the greatest design.
Portland Timbers: A
The Portland Timbers made sure their new kits impressed by paying attention to every little detail.
The stitching pattern on the sleeves, understated designs behind the logo and "Rose City" displayed multiple times throughout the kit all contribute to an excellent new look.
Both the primary and secondary looks feature simple color schemes instead o trying to blend too much together on a single jersey.
Portland managed to succeed in creating an interesting and modern look for both of its new kits, and the team definitely deserves top marks for its design.
Seattle Sounders: A
The Seattle Sounders are a unique MLS franchise due to their fantastic supporters, and the club did well to ensure that the kits also have their own distinct look.
Making bright green jerseys fashionable is not easy, but blue shorts are the perfect complementary tone. They are muted enough to keep the overall kit from looking like a neon bar sign while also being bright enough so that the jerseys do not stand out too much.
Adidas' Michael Ehrlich offered a comparison between the home and away kits:
The away kits offer a more subdued look that still features the team's signature green. Overall, the Sounders have fantastic new uniforms for the 2013 season.
Sporting Kansas City: B
Sporting Kansas City has opted to use both tones of blue in their new primary kits, and as is often the case, there is symbolism behind this decision.
The two colors with a prominent line separating the two sections of the jersey symbolizes the city's location on the border between Kansas and Missouri, as SportingKC.com's Kurt Austin notes.
This all makes sense, but the look is ultimately forgettable. The colors do not stand out and there is nothing especially unique about the jersey.
While there is nothing wrong with the kit, it is a look that will come and go without any fanfare.
Toronto FC: A
Toronto FC plays in Canada, and in case anyone didn't already know that, the club reminded all MLS fans with its new primary kit.
With the national colors prominently featured, and a maple leaf subtly displayed behind the sponsor's logo, there is no doubt that the club was showing its patriotism with this design.
The design managed to to pull off a lot without being overwhelming. The background designs on the jersey are intricate and complement the shield and the logos well.
There is plenty going on with this look, but it all blends effortlessly. After finishing last in the Eastern Conference this past season, the club will hope its players work together as well as all the elements of this design.
Vancouver Whitecaps: B
The Vancouver Whitecaps' color scheme has already been dictated by the team name, giving the club little leeway to get creative.
With an all-white look, elegant and ageless should be the goal. The new kit does not quite hit this standard, but doing too little is far better than doing too much with a soccer uniform.
The diagonal stripes are simple while still being distinct, and there is not much else going on with the jersey.
Vancouver is another team with an adequate but unmemorable new look.