US Kits 2016

My original plan for this post was to scream and yell about the new US kits. I yelled about the blue shirts with icing and the white Women’s World Cup shirts with volt socks, and even created a petition on change.org. But let’s face it. Either you like them or you don’t. It’s a matter of taste. Are they the worst shirts ever made? No, but we can do so much better. (Need proof? Check out my side project USMNT Kits for some beauties and real eye sores.) Here are my quick thoughts on the most recent version:

Dorothy - Inspiration usa-2016-copa-america-home-kit-4

There’s a lot going on here with the reversed out Dorothy shirt, with the new crest and the new template from Nike. White home shirt makes sense but the sleeves look terrible up close, yet not so bad from far away. Will be interesting to see how this translates on TV. Still upset that Nike can’t use the colors of the flag especially when it’s right there on the new crest.

download usa-2016-copa-america-away-kit-1

Every sporting brand has to have a black jersey. (The Brazil black strip was sick even though it never saw the light of day.) The US finally got on the bus and . . . missed. Sleeves of different colors has created the nickname of the cop car on the interwebs. The appearance of a training shirt takes away from the importance of the strip, and in the end, my takeaway is that this looks like the uniform for an upcoming Hollywood comic inspired superhero team blockbuster. And that’s not a good thing.

I’ve been very unhappy with the Nike kits but have come to several realizations. 1. I’m not completely powerless but really all I can do is whine on social media and not buy the shirts. Haven’t bought one since the Centennial. 2. Nike is in the business of making money and not making aesthetically pleasing gear (looking right at the Oregon Ducks). Plus it’s been proven that people like outlandish and crazy gear rather than the conservative, straightforward goods I would purchase. 3. And, this may be the most important, Nike is paying US Soccer a shit ton of money. So while we can say fire Nike and fire whoever is saying yes at US Soccer, the Federation can only say no so much or lose revenue. (However, someone else would step up.)

What I really want to focus on is the look of US jerseys. Consider the iconic national teams around the world. Brazil in their yellow, Holland in their orange, Argentina in the sky blue and white vertical stripes, Mexico in the green. Fans know what they are going to get. Yes there will be slight changes based on the design or fashion or the template but the home shirt does not vary. Chances are taken with the away strip (Mexico black shirt, Spanish black and volt, Brazil’s green shirt are examples).

American flag background - shot and lit in studio

So what should the US look be? Not the federation crest because that’s been a hot mess for a long time. Let’s start with the effin flag. Rich red, white and navy blue for colors, stars and stripes as design elements. Conrad Burry modified the 2012 strips and came up with a nice set.

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It could be argued that the Waldo shirt should be our home shirt but I would remind readers that the shirts of many CONCACAF teams are red and white—Costa Rica, Panama, Canada and Costa Rica come to mind. That leaves the navy blue. While there are many teams that wear royal blue, the navy blue would be our standard strip at home and the visitors can wear their white get up in America. No one that I can think of owns navy blue as a home shirt. Several teams use it as a change strip, so think about it.

juventus-95-away-ls-cl juventus-12-away_2_1

As for the flag elements, we’ve seen two variations of the stripes (World Cup 94 and 2012), but what about the stars? Juventus have used a star design several times over the last 20 years to varying effect. Put that in the idea blender and see what comes out.

In the end, my position is that the US kits should be based on the colors and elements of the United States flag, not whatever the manufacturer is promoting/throwing against the wall. The sooner US Soccer starts on this the better. American kit design has been wandering through the desert for longer than 40 years and it’s time to find the Promised Land.

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

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