The crowd, the lights and the fashion-show setting were an unsubtle reminder of MLS’s first collective uniform party almost 25 years ago. But the jerseys unveiled at Wednesday night’s event in Manhattan represented a clear departure.
The league’s inaugural kits were hilariously garish, notoriously distinctive and mostly regrettable. In recent seasons, however, Adidas and MLS clubs have raced toward the opposite end of the spectrum, tripping over themselves as they try to erase much of the color and individual team identity that’s vital for TV and so important in other leagues around the world.
A lot of that single-entity, every-game-looks-the-same philosophy was evident Wednesday, as Adidas honored the league’s 25th season with a template featuring a callback to the shoulder stripes and collar popular in the early 1990s. Several clubs made it work—like with contrasting colors on the jersey, some kind of design or different color shorts—while others just mailed it in.
Each of the 26 teams introduced at least one new jersey/uniform on Wednesday. Most carry over another kit from 2018, while expansion clubs Inter Miami and Nashville SC will release a second set on their own.
Here’s a look at the 26 kits unveiled in New York City:
CRITIQUE: White and peach have made way for white and gold in Atlanta’s new away uniform. Maybe United is getting cocky. Maybe the gold is shiny enough to show up on TV.
CRITIQUE: The Fire’s comprehensive brand implosion continues with an away uniform that looks like a men’s underwear set and, reportedly, an all-blue home kit that destroys two decades of “Men in Red” tradition.
CRITIQUE: When you own a color like the Rapids own burgundy, you just have to show up. And that’s what Colorado does with this plain home shirt.
CRITIQUE: Columbus has traditionally worn an all-black secondary uniform. This one includes a gray checker pattern on the jersey.
CRITIQUE: D.C.’s new home set features the best use of the three shoulder stripes, if only because they’re a reminder of the iconic chest stripes of the club’s dynasty days.
CRITIQUE: FCC’s new home jersey includes a sharp halved design that’s been little used in MLS, but overall the uniform has way too much blue and not enough orange.
CRITIQUE: The hoops are back, mostly, for FCD. And that’s welcome. This is a distinctive kit that represents a big improvement over 2018’s boxy experiment.
CRITIQUE: There’s nothing wrong with getting a bit creative with an away kit. This one’s fine, but the orange rainbow/sunrise jerseys will be missed.
CRITIQUE: After all the promise and marketing around pink, neither the away (shown) nor home (reportedly white) unis will be pink. Just more MLS black and MLS white. What a waste.
CRITIQUE: There’s not much to say about this unimaginative, forgettable uniform except for the fact that the team wearing it should win a lot of games.
CRITIQUE: The Galaxy have had dibs as MLS’s all-white team. But the faded, washed-out sash is a disappointment.
CRITIQUE: The loon’s wing returns to the United shirt, which should please Twin Cities supporters. It also proves customization is available for clubs that care.
CRITIQUE: At least this gray and white away kit features a bit of contrast. Too bad about that black-and-white badge, however.
CRITIQUE: It’s unclear whether Nashville will wear blue or yellow shorts with its home yellow jersey. Blue is better, and would afford the club a unique primary look.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
CRITIQUE: This is MLS’s most conservative club no longer. The paintbrush hoop and red shorts won’t appeal to everyone, but they’ll be instantly recognizable.
CRITIQUE: NYCFC is sticking with navy blue for its secondary set. The print on the jersey is “inspired by the landmark architecture of the Brooklyn Bridge” and “the design cues that dot the edges of New York Harbor.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS
CRITIQUE: The color proportions of the Red Bulls’ new away kit seem like more of an homage to rival D.C. United than the MetroStars days, as intended.
CRITIQUE: Orlando’s first decent away kit since entering MLS features some welcome purple coloring—a sun in shadow—on the jersey.
CRITIQUE: Any Union jersey that doesn’t feature the gold center stripe that was a unique hallmark of the club’s early kits is a failure.
CRITIQUE: The Timbers new away jersey is quite nice, thanks to the thin hoops. But the overall presentation would be much improved with green shorts.
REAL SALT LAKE
CRITIQUE: Finally, the blue shorts are back. RSL has returned to its championship look, with a strangely-patterned jersey (it’s supposed to evoke landscapes) to boot.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
CRITIQUE: This is a sound secondary uniform. It’s got multiple colors and a jersey that reflects the design of the San Jose city flag.
CRITIQUE: The print on Seattle’s home jersey features waves that represent Puget Sound and the club’s old logos. But that’s not nearly as significant as the big gold star.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
CRITIQUE: SKC smartly ditched the derivative black secondary and returned to the native navy blue, this time with dots that symbolize the fins adorning Children’s Mercy Park.
CRITIQUE: TFC has used gray previously, and it’s in the badge. So this new set fits with the club’s identity. The jersey pattern is supposed to represent the city’s “diversity of cultures.”
CRITIQUE: The light blue shorts elevate the new secondary to one of the best in MLS. Thanks to the hooped home shirt, the Whitecaps are among the league’s sharpest-dressed teams.