Starting with the boldest element, Orlando City’s new-look away kit is very white. Generally, white has been chosen in sports to provide contrast, with the team on the other side of the ball wearing dark. Does it carry a significant meaning beyond that? White has usually been symbolic of innocence and purity, and of course as “the good guys,” who wear white. It’s an interesting idea for the road team to be cast as the good guys away from home.
Orlando City has gone all in on white this season, and there’s a key reason. In more recent times, white has been attached to modernity. The color provides a sense of both coolness and cleanliness. Consider many modern appliances and tech gadgets have been featured in white to suggest both futurism and simplicity. The kits’ white elements, with simple pin-striping (seven stripes, representing the number of seasons in Orlando City history — four in the USL and three in MLS), present an image of sharp modernity.
In the case of Orlando City’s new kit, the dominant white is highlighted by purple. The club’s badge, the club’s sponsor, the MLS logo, the names and numbers, and the kit manufacturer are all in matching purple. The iconic three Adidas stripes on the shoulder and a purple band around the sleeve cuff finish off the jersey.
Most Orlando City fans know that the club transitioned from red to purple as its primary color after their first USL season in an effort to create a unique and recognizable brand. Purple itself is a color that has long suggested royalty due to the expense and rarity of the dyes needed to create the color. The purple highlights that dominate the white kit fit perfectly into the club’s recognizable brand.
The 2018 kit lacks any hint of the club’s third color, gold. In the first edition of the away shirt, a gold trim was added to the collar, and the Orlando City lion logo featured that color. The 2016 version featured a metallic lion logo with more purple and yellow highlights. This 2018 edition, by removing the third color and placing everything in matching purple, hints at a unified vision between the club, its main sponsor, Orlando Health, the league, and Adidas.
A new feature on this year’s “Origin” kit is the date of the club’s establishment, 2010. If you are a Columbus Crew or LA Galaxy fan, maybe bragging about a legacy reaching back only eight years isn’t much to talk about. However, in the American soccer landscape, eight years is an impressive feat. Former Florida MLS clubs the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion only lasted six and four years, respectively. Celebrating the club’s founding maintains a relationship with early fans while at the same time representing a sense of permanence.
Finally, through the neckline, Orlando City Stadium’s zip code is emblazoned. This to me is the most interesting feature, since 32805 creates a sense of place. Oftentimes, clubs will use broad themes for their club identity, choosing a regional or state theme over the city. It’s a marketing ploy, hoping to pull in more fans. Orlando City staked its claim to a city on the rise and just coming into its own, so a zip code through the collar isn’t all that surprising. However, as many Orlando residents know, 32805 isn’t the most well-known zip code for Orlando, as 32801 is the zip code for most of downtown Orlando. The 32805 zip code does contain the club’s former home, the Citrus Bowl, and the present stadium.
Associating the club with 32805 places the club within a zip code that contains the Parramore, Callahan, and Washington Shores neighborhoods. This connection to this economically challenged section of Orlando adds to the many programs implemented in an effort to connect with the neighborhood, from the weekly farmer’s market to the building of a community garden and mini soccer fields in this underserved section of Orlando.
Personally, I think this is the best away kit yet. Simple with a sense of meaning and place for a team that will wear this fighting on the road is a powerful message. Much like the USL logo on the inside of the kit behind the new MLS logo during the inaugural season, the new road kit sends a powerful message of connection to the city of Orlando and the soccer supporters here.
What’s your take? Do you like the new kit or was there one the past you preferred more?