in review: MLS jersey week 2015

WSOTP - Blog - MLS Jersey Week 2015

Maybe it’s just me, but it sure feels like the Major League Soccer off season is getting shorter and shorter every year.

It seems as if it was just days ago that we were watching the Galaxy hoist their fifth MLS Cup trophy. Perhaps that’s due to the near constant stream of news now pouring from the league during the winter months. Expansion rumors, CBA negotiations, seemingly an entire generation of US players migrating to North American shores, the Garber v Klinsmann storyline, a litany of drafts, both of New York City’s clubs trying to out-PR-disaster one another… it’s been non-stop. And with clubs winding down preseason training and the regular season now just days away from kicking off, it’s only going to get worse.

But one particular MLS custom that I look forward to most of all the stories that come out during the offseason is the annual Jersey Week. The league finally got around to announcing that the 3rd Annual Jersey Week will begin this coming Saturday, February 28.

Though it’s not really a “week” this year like has been in the past, and we’ll get into that shortly.

Unfamiliar with Jersey Week? Beginning two seasons ago MLS decreed that each club should debut at least one new kit per season, and they’re all supposed to debut them this week. Some clubs put zero effort into it, issuing a regular release to the press and dusting off their hands. Others go all out with reveal parties packed full of supporters and local celebrities. Regardless of how they’re presented though, the internet subsequently explodes with opinion/rant/hate soon after they’re revealed. It’s grand fun, particularly for a gearhead such as myself.

And just as was the case the last two seasons again — here are my 2013 and 2014 Jersey Week reviews — WSOTP is back again in 2015 to offer up my thoughts on every new kit debuted too.

Now, I had grand designs to do things a little bit differently this go around. Instead of doing one long post at the end of the week as I have in year’s past, I had hoped to review each day’s worth of releases the day they drop, updating the same article with my reactions as each new shirt was debuted. Of course, half of the shirts leaked out ahead of time this year, thus taking a little of the wind out of my sails. But even in the disappointment, I still plan on proceeding with the course I had decided on anyway. I’m no quitter. Be sure to check back nightly starting this Saturday for my hot takes on the shirts.

Anyway, to skip ahead to your club’s review (assuming it’s done), click on their name below:

WESTERN CONFERENCE EASTERN CONFERENCE
Colorado Rapids FC Dallas Chicago Fire Columbus Crew SC
Houston Dynamo LA Galaxy D.C. United Montreal Impact FC
Portland Timbers FC Real Salt Lake New England Revolution New York City FC
San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders FC New York Red Bulls Orlando City SC (H) (A)
Sporting Kansas City Vancouver Whitecaps FC Philadelphia Union Toronto FC

Otherwise, feel free to scroll on through the entirety of the reviews to see how every club fared. And if you care to share your thoughts — or your thoughts on my thoughts — hit up the comments at the base of the article or holler at me on Twitter.

Another annoyance not mentioned above: not only did half of the jerseys leak out ahead of time this year, but another four clubs didn’t even bother to wait until Jersey Week proper to make things official. Though I do get why it would be advantageous for the two new clubs — New York City FC and Orlando City SC — to announce their’s far ahead of time, I don’t quite get why the rest weren’t made to wait. That said, at least it allowed me to publish the piece with a few shirts already in place.

Also, I aiming to get links up to online purchase locations as I did last year, but word on the street is MLS has hired a third party to manage an online shop for every team. So I’m going to assume they’ll get that ironed out as Jersey Week progresses. I’ll be sure to update the links as they become available.

NOVEMBER 5TH, 2014

Orlando City SC
Location University of Florida Cancer Center
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade B
Jersey Week 2014 Club Did Not Exist
2014 Grade(s) N/A
Orlando City SC 2015 Home JerseyOCSC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

Before anyone points it out, I don’t think there are press shots anywhere for Orlando’s first ever authentic MLS jersey, so the replica version — which lacks the gold piping on the collar, the white band around the bottom of the shirt and the new OCSC-flavored MLS crest on both sleeves will have to do for now. As for the authentic version, I think Orlando did a pretty decent job with the first ever kit, particularly when contrasted against their fellow expansion side’s unoriginal home kit. Sure, it’s low on frill and pretty simple like NYCFC’s. But there are enough small, distinguishing features on this shirt to earn it higher marks. I love the laminated hoops, and when worn with shorts, the white stripe along the bottom hem actually brings a nice visual contrast.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 13, 2014

New York City FC
Location Terminal 5 (Primary)
Modell’s (Secondary)
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade F
Shirt Secondary
Grade B+
Jersey Week 2014 Club Did Not Exist
2014 Grade(s) N/A
NYCFC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.
New York City FC 2015 Away JerseyNYCFC SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

I won’t beat a dead horse here too much, but I think the reactions to NYCFC’s first ever MLS home kit was one of universal disgust. The consensus: why would the new New York team trying to shake the “little brother” status ever go with a kit that is a near carbon copy of parent club Manchester City’s home shirt? Surely some sort of differentiating factors could have been added in. Further orange elements. Subtle pinstripes as a nod to their Yankee co-owners. Utilizing more navy blue. Really, any of them would have done. And until they actually show an individual identity, they’ll continue to get low marks from me — like the first ever F I’ve ever dished out in three years of Jersey Week reviews.

The away kit though… that one isn’t too bad. There’s isn’t another shirt I can think of that it looks like, especially in MLS. The orange touches, when paired with the light blue trim, do really well to contrast and bring some life to a darker shirt. And the subtle 5 stripes — which I’d struggle to call “pinstripes” — each paying homage to one of New York’s five boroughs and give the jersey a bit of needed texture. A night and day difference from their home kit, without a doubt.

FEBRUARY 8TH, 2015

D.C. United
Location Pinstripes
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade A
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) C
DC United 2015 Away Jersey
DCU SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

The first of the sides to reveal their new shirt that was not an expansion side — which, as I noted above, annoyed me — I’ll say this much about it: I can see why they were so ready to let the cat out of the bag. The new DC shirt is pretty freaking sick. United have traditionally worn white aways, and while this shirt is no different, the alternating-width stripes fading into a red bib at the top? I’m a sucker for those types of stripes (as I explained in last year’s edition with respect to LA’s socks). I wanted to dock points for not revealing during Jersey Week proper, but it’s such a good looking shirt that I just couldn’t deny it a worthy grade.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23RD, 2015

Vancouver Whitecaps
Location Via Local TV Broadcast
Commodore Ballroom (3/2)
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade A+
Jersey Week 2014 Secondary
2014 Grade(s) C+

VWFC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

This being the last of our pre-Jersey Week releases, I’m feeling ready to make a bold statement. Despite having not yet seen all of the shirts set to debut this season, I’m calling it now: the new Vancouver Whitecaps home shirt will be my favorite of the bunch. That shouldn’t come as too much of a shock as I’ve found all of Vancouver’s home shirts so far to be solid efforts. On the latest edition, the faded mountain texture fits so well with their branding and accents their logo perfectly. It’s reminiscent of a few other recent shirts from around the game that I’ve been a fan of, sharing similarities to Slovenia’s recent Nike kits and Chelsea’s third kits in 2012. Sort of. As Jim Carry’s Lloyd Christmas would say, “I like it a lot”.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH, 2015

Toronto FC
Location Via Local TV Broadcast
Fountain Blu (3/7)
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade C
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B+
TFC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

The 2014 season and offseason was a tumultuous one for Toronto FC, punctuated by big names coming and going from the club and money thrown about like it’s going out of style. And since things have been so chaotic at the club, perhaps their brass thought it would be wiser to go with a more simplistic, calmer design for their new 2015 home jersey. And simple they went. Though there’s nothing particularly wrong with the plain design, there’s also nothing particularly great about it either. Gone is the fancy maple leaf design laminated into the shirt, replaced with admittedly nice 3D embossed leaf in the jock tag area. It’s just red. Some may like the simplicity, but I feel like it’s lacking a little something.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28TH, 2015

Impact Montréal
Location Stade Olympique
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade C+
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B-
IMFC SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

So if I dinged Toronto for their lack of creativity with their new shirt, why then am I dinging their closest Canadian neighbors when they have gotten a bit more creative with things? Because the Impact’s newest away shirt’s creativity was a bit… odd. While I’m generally a fan of hoops, even laminated ones that are remarkably similar to those used on FC Dallas’ home kits, the addition of tiny fleur-de-lis branching off those stripes is weird. Most of IMFC’s recent kits have featured at least one of the famous French insignia, so I get them wanting to include it again. But they way they’re just kind of plugged in to this year’s design, they seem like an afterthought.

SUNDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2015

Real Salt Lake
Location Via Local TV Broadcast
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade B
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B-
RSL SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Much like NYCFC and Toronto’s home kits, the new Real Salt Lake kit is pretty low on frills. No laminated imagery, no fancy graphics. Just a white-bib with blue arms, and some hints of gold and burgundy. But unlike with the previously mentioned shirts, I think this look actually works pretty well for RSL. For starters, it’s a massive improvement over their now old asymmetrical away shirt — the addition of the blue on both sleeve does marvels for the balance. Secondly, the color combination and curves of the design, particularly in the shoulders, really work well together. Overall, a solid effort despite it’s simplicity.

MONDAY, MARCH 2ND, 2015

Chicago Fire
Location Digital Release
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade B-
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) D
CF SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Overall, I like this shirt. The predominantly white design is accented well with splashes of the pleasing combinations of red, navy and light blue. It’s not too plain, yet it’s not too crazy. And I like that Fire have once again paid homage to the city flag… though I find it a bit corporatocratic that they opted to replace the four stars normally featured in the Chicago flag with a company’s logo. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh and should ignore that given it is their sponsor and they need to fit it in somewhere. But too, no Chicago Fire jersey that pays homage to the city flag will ever be better than this one.

Los Angeles Galaxy
Location Digital Release
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade A
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) A
LAG SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

One of the downfalls of having a single uniform provider for an entire league is that you ultimately get template designs utilized by multiple teams, as is the case with the Galaxy’s new away shirt sharing the same template as DC United’s. But without knowing who picked the template first, it would be pretty unfair of me to dock LA points because DC’s debuted first. And secondly, LA’s so called #BlueOnBlue kit is different enough that the design can stand on it’s own. I’m particularly fond of how the omni-present three stripes on the shoulders are in a version of blue that isn’t far off from the sleeve color, giving the illusion that they’re barely there at all. Plus, LA absolutely killed their digital release it with a sick photoshoot on Manhattan Beach.

TUESDAY, MARCH 3RD, 2015

Columbus Crew SC
Location Bluestone
Shirt Primary and Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade A
Shirt Third
Grade A+
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B-
CCSC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.
CCSC SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

I’ll admit my bias for the Crew is strong. But even if Columbus wasn’t the club I supported, their kits would check a lot of my typical kit check boxes. They are simple, yet have enough detail — the perfectly subtle checkerboard embossing — to differentiate. They perfectly reflect the club’s newly refurbished branding. They stayed true to the Crew’s traditional solid yellow home strip, something I find very important to the club’s identity. And the introduction of the all black home kit? O.M.G. Though the home one still looks great, the reversal works even better with the gold accents providing bright focal points. If only I could manage to get my hands on a black long sleeve kit…

Houston Dynamo
Location Washington Ave Street Party
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade B-
Jersey Week 2014 Secondary
2014 Grade(s) C
HD PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

I want to like the new Dynamo kit, I really do. I love the color orange. The fade to the white is kinda cool. But they lost me with the overlay of the diamond pattern — which the club says is “reminiscent of the exterior design of BBVA Compass Stadium”. Problem is, it’s not really that reminiscent of the irregular, triangular tiles that make up the stunning outer shell of BBVA. The same triangular theme is used throughout the stadium’s design, actually. And that’s just enough of a design miscue to make me cringe a little bit, if for no other reason than I think a truer representation of their home ground’s design would have also looked better, too.

New England Revolution
Location House of Blues – Boston
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade A-
Jersey Week 2014 Primary.
2014 Grade(s) C
NER SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

As a Crew fan, the rivalry that’s sprouted up between as Ohioans and New England means I’m supposed to hate all things Revolution. But I’ve got to be honest: this shirt is dope. I have a soft spot for designs with a nod to the local history, and the Revs new away shirt is based on the flag of New England, which is explained on the jock tag and visible below the back collar. So what’s with the minus? The green tones were a nice touch throughout the shirt — but why not go the whole way and make the star-ball in the crest green too?

New York Red Bulls
Location Webster Hall
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade C
Jersey Week 2014 Secondary
2014 Grade(s) C+
RBNY PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

My prediction that the shirt would once again have giant red bulls on it was prophetically correct. As always, the club’s namesake and primary sponsor dominates the jersey, but I’m beyond that. There are plenty of elements that I like about this shirt. The red sleeves are a nice touch this year. I had been a fan of the “New York” detailing in previous Jersey Week write ups, too. But all of it added together — plus the gigantic team name embossed on the lower back — makes the shirt just way too busy. Dropping an element or two would have made things a lot more palatable.

Orlando City SC
Location Church Street Exchange
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link BUY HERE
Grade C+
Jersey Week 2014 Club Did Not Exist
2014 Grade(s) N/A
OCSC SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Wait, didn’t we do Orlando already? As it turns out, we did. But the Lions were wise enough to realize that they should still get in on the Jersey Week action too, so they delayed their away kit announcement to do so. Problem is, there’s nothing really that new to debut. Yeah, we hadn’t officially seen the away strip yet — though numerous leaks had already confirm this thing well before the official release date. And there’s also a different saying along the inside neck line taping. But otherwise, it’s just a plain reverse of he home shirt. And while that worked marvelously for the Crew, Orlando’s away shirt just didn’t achieve the same effect.

Philadelphia Union
Location Dave & Buster’s
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwPU SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Check back the evening of March 3rd.

Portland Timbers FC
Location The Exchange Ballroom
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Secondary and Third
2014 Grade(s) B and A
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwPTFC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

Check back the evening of March 3rd.

San Jose Earthquakes
Location Avaya Stadium
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Primary  & Secondary
2014 Grade(s) C+ and C+
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwSJE PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

Check back the evening of March 3rd.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4TH, 2015

Sporting Kansas City
Location Uptown Shoppes
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Secondary
2014 Grade(s) A
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwSKC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.

Check back the evening of March 4th.

THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH, 2015

Colorado Rapids
Location The Tavern Downtown
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwCR SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Check back the evening of March 4th.

FC Dallas
Location Fashion Institute Gallery
Shirt Secondary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Primary
2014 Grade(s) B
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwFCD SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Check back the evening of March 4th.

Seattle Sounders FC
Location Sounders FC Clubhouse
Shirt Primary
Purchase Link ?
Grade ?
Shirt Secondary
Grade ?
Jersey Week 2014 Third
2014 Grade(s) B-
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwSSFC PRIMARY: Click to zoom.
WSOTP - Blog - Jersey Week Blank.fwSSFC SECONDARY: Click to zoom.

Jersey not yet revealed. Check back the evening of March 5th.

—————————————————————————–

So, what shirt do you like best? Disagree with any of the grades I doled out to the new shirts? Let me know in the comments below or by hitting me up on social media using the links at the bottom of the page.

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