MLS Eastern Conference: New Season, New Togs

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by BILL REESE with JACK BELL

What, exactly, is a new soccer season without a frenzy of leaks, rumors and finally the official introductions of the new Adidas gear to be worn by players on the 22 teams of Major League Soccer.

You can call it fashion forward or simply another gambit to separate you from your hard-earned cash ($120 for the “authentic” numbers; a mere $85 for the replica online and at enlightened local retailers) for yet another polyester soccer trinket. But this is serious business, especially when it comes to you actually paying to give some big corporation free advertising as you prance around wearing the shirt of your favorite MLS team, brought to you by Etihad Airways, Herbalife, Target and their fellow purveyors of consumer nirvana through soccer.

With the start of the 2017 MLS regular season mere days away, Empire of Soccer takes a fresh look at the team shirts we will be seeing on the soccer fields of North American between now and the end of the year. We encourage readers to not take our word for the good, the bad, but mostly the ugly, but to voice your opinions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

(First of two parts)


Atlanta United

ATL PrimaryATL SecondaryNobody in MLS was wearing red-and-black stripes, no matter how badly people in the Empire Supporters Club wanted the Red Bulls to reclaim their MetroStars heritage. That said, Atlanta’s debut home jersey (left) is fantastic, especially the gold trim. Good luck Atlanta, hope that the Curse of Caricola doesn’t come along with those stripes.
If you’re going to lift the old Metro look for your home shirt, don’t twist the knife by appropriating the (admittedly plain) Red Bulls template as your road uniform. Compared to the bold look of Atlanta’s home jersey, this design is like grits without hot sauce.

 

Chicago Fire

CHI PrimaryCHI SecondaryChicago’s 2015-16 white jersey that emulated the city’s iconic flag was a nice look. The new gray uniform, right, is understated, yet sleek. Moving the six-sided stars of the city’s flag to the sleeve cuff is a nice feature. What would the Fire be without a red outfit.

 

Columbus Crew

CCSC primaryCCSC secondaryThe Crew have unveiled a great looking gold jersey, left, as their home uniform, replacing the black one they wore at home in 2016 and parts of 2015. The checkerboard side panels are a nice addition, but they would have been much better if they were half as wide. Either way, a huge step up for the Crew. The black and yellow away jersey is infinitely more fashionable than the ghastly city flag design Columbus wore last year, with the sky blue shorts, red trim and yellow stripes that looked like they had been applied with a neon Highlighter. Many Crew fans will be glad to never see (or wear) those again.

DC United

DC PrimaryDC SecondaryWould it be asking too much for DC to have a sleek white uniform to go with its classic black home jersey, left? Instead, United will be wearing these turtle shell numbers as a change strip for the next two years. They should be buried at R.F.K. Stadium’s center circle before the club leaves for its new digs at Audi Field in Buzzard Point sometime in 2018 (or is it 2019?).

 

Montreal Impact

MTL PrimaryMTL SecondaryFrom the waist up, the white alternate, left, is pretty uninspiring, but the best part of the uniform is the Quebec-flag inspired socks. C’est beau! And if the Impact look like the Nerazzuri in their primaries, well, that’s amore.

 

New England Revolution

NE_2016_PrimaryNE SecondaryOver the last few years, New England has begun to incorporate the elements of the original New England flag into its uniform, and quite successfully. Bonus points for going with the oft-neglected half-and-half, right, rarely used in MLS.

 

New York City FC

NYC PrimaryNYC SecondaryWho didn’t laugh — hard— when NYCFC trotted out hand-me-down Manchester City uniforms at its inaugural jersey launch in 2015. No one is laughing anymore. NYC’s new home uniform keeps the parent company’s identity, right, and splashes it with a much needed navy trim and shorts that — if not for the Etihad shirt sponsorship — make it feel like a unique club. The secondary earns style points with the addition of orange on the jersey, socks and shorts.

 

New York Red Bulls

7418A_NRB_BANRB_R7B_LFSTYL 2NYRB SecondaryThe Red Bulls wore the diagonal stripes, left, at last week’s Champions League game, and they were barely visible from the stands. The short Adidas stripes on the shoulders give this jersey an especially clean look and the Red Bull chest logo is no longer obscenely large. But the diagonal armpit lasers, as one wag dubbed them, still seem unnecessary, gimmicky, and detract from an otherwise great look. The blue-and-yellow look, right, returns for another year.

 

Orlando City

ORL_2017_Orlando_2016_SecondaryAbsolutely spectacular. Orlando City starts its first season in its new stadium in style with this denim-textured look, and the reflective gold stripes are amazing, left. We could do without the longitude and latitude word mark on the sleeve, it’s unnecessary and detracts from an otherwise gorgeous uniform. The secondary outfit keeps the purple motif as an accent for the all-white uniform.

 

Philadelphia Union

philadelphia_union_FINALPHI SecondaryPhilly had a decent away uniform when it wore white with sky blue a few years ago. The club has instead opted for a clean, Tottenham-like design, right. The Union went for a monochromatic badge, with no copper color, on both the jersey and the shorts. It’s a nice look, but if you’re going to exclude copper from the badge, why include it on the jersey’s shoulder stripes? Doesn’t make much sense. Some call the middle panel on the primary/home shirts copper, but others think it looks more like brown mustard. There is no accounting for taste.

Toronto

TOR PrimaryTOR SecondaryToronto has really glommed onto slate gray as its secondary color in recent years, when the club would be best dressed with white as their trim color, similar to Manchester United, Liverpool (in the Carlsberg era) or Benfica. Gray (on the sleeves) can be a great accent color, but with Toronto’s bold red muddles the design. The secondary shirt, right, is clean and fresh — but why put a horizontal blue line across the top, and the socks, with blue shorts? Red, white and blue? Papers please.

 

Our Favorites:

Bill ReeseBest Primary: NYC FC, Orlando City, Columbus, Atlanta, Red Bulls, Toronto. Best Secondary: Columbus, New England, Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia, Atlanta, DC United.

Jack Bell — Best Primary: Orlando City, Toronto, DC United, Red Bulls. Best Secondary: NYCFC, Red Bulls, New England, Chicago, Montreal (one of four in “classic” white, mostly).

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