Eight by Eight’s Jackson Culley walks you through the design successes and faux paus that will soon find their way to a soccer-specific stadium near you.
Columbus Crew SC (home/away)
Of the various rebrands that took place in MLS last year (including the league’s own repackaging) the Columbus Crew’s was easily the most successful. The Crew debuted a Bundesliga inspired badge that nods to the team’s history and home state while swapping the overused FC for SC. The home and away kits keep the classic yellow and black combo but echo the new badge with a tone-on-tone checkerboard. The home of Dos A Cero is an early frontrunner for the best dressed MLS side of 2015.
Orlando City SC (home)
I always appreciate a team that makes the bold choice to skip the cliched choices of red or blue, white or black. Orlando City SC announced its regal ambitions with a deep purple kit, trimmed in gold, ready to be worn by one of the most acclaimed playmakers of his generation, Kaká. The horizontal stripes give the shirt a subtle flair and behind the badge the USLPRO crest is printed on the inside of the shirt, a nod to the founding years of this young club.
Sporting KC (home)
The Sporting KC shirt will most likely be one of the most divisive MLS kits this season given the recent history of plaid kits. But for me the little choices make this shirt both ambitious and cool: the decision to extend the graph paper pattern across the entire shirt, the trimless deep slit v-neck, a collar without an aggressive accent trim. The shirt gives the new kids in KC an old-school look.
Vancouver Whitecaps (home)
Neck and neck with Columbus for best kit of the year, the Whitecaps home shirt takes a cue from the club’s badge and the mountainous topography of Vancouver coupled with a faint touch of the 90’s. Minimal navy trim keeps the design from being too busy, giving the ‘Caps a sharp look stepping out into 2015, which may prove to be their best ever year in MLS, too.
New York City FC (home and away)
As excited as I am to see a potentially great intra-city rivalry develop in New York, NYCFC have made it hard for themselves with a home shirt that heavily emphasizes the “franchise” nature of the club. While the away kit distances itself from the Manchester mothership, it does make me want to take back everything I said about appreciating tone-on-tone designs. Paired with diagonal stripes, it looks more pleather-on-polyester than tone-on-tone. Maybe next time NYCFC will build its own unique brand, delivering on the potential of the white/orange/blue of the New York City flag.
Philadelphia Union (away)
White! Gold! The Union’s away kit this year looks like a mistake that made it to the assembly line. A vertical stack of Adidas logo, club badge, and shirt sponsor? At least it focuses attention away from the stitched star field covering the front of the shirt.
Portland Timbers (home)
The new Timbers kit isn’t one the worst shirts this year, but it is a let down after the fantastic home kit the Timbers wore last season (Also, I will never understand why the 2013-14 third kit is not their primary shirt). Putting the massive chevron tip to tip with that panel/slit v-neck is just poor design and there’s the bare minimum of the little touches that have made past Timbers kits so unique.
New England Revolution (away)
I can’t help but think that the Revs are going to look like Santa’s little helpers when they’re away from home this season, which may not be too far off considering the Christmas tree on the New England flag that inspired the color scheme. Overall, it’s a blocky design that’s just missing a cute hat and bell-toed shoes.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on Twitter @8by8mag and @_jculley_