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2018 MLS Kits: A Complete Ranking

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Where does Orlando rank among the best kits in MLS?

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

[Editor’s note: The opinions herein belong solely to the author and if truth be known, most of The Mane Land staff would probably get into a fistfight with him about some of these.]

I have been waiting for weeks to write this review once the leaks started making their way through social media. One by one, we saw each club release its newest inclusion into its kit collection. Some were home and some were away, but all but one club released new kits this spring, including Los Angeles FC’s inaugural set. I am a huge kit nerd and this is always like Christmas to me.

There’s always a lot of flak for kits that are too similar league-wide. And there will always be fans that hate or love a jersey. Some would say, if you don’t have a polarizing enough kit then you’re not doing it right. Fan conversation invites free marketing. Some love the simple and classy. Some want intense, sublimated graphic designs that almost give you 1996 vibes. There’s no perfect formula.

But I hate nothing more than when you go through a league or national team array of kit releases and everything looks uniform. There’s something to say about brand consistent elements (Adidas’ three stripes or Puma’s “formstripe”), but when you have a situation like the NWSL or the Nike blueprint that stretched too far you lose the fun of it all. You lose the individual identity that fans want from their kits.

Overall, I think this is a very strong year from Adidas. The variety of color, the different cuts and designs all point to a more involved process with the clubs to create individually resonating kits. It’s not perfect. It never will be since you can’t please everyone. I’m 100% sure people will rip some of my grades — in both directions — but I definitely think this is a very positive year in general.

Montreal Impact

Best Feature:

The 25th anniversary patch.

What Should Change:

Is the whole kit possible?

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Hard pass.

From a business sense, I can’t understand not putting out a new kit. Adding some silver and a patch is just lazy. F

LA Galaxy

Best feature:

The “This Is LA” jersey tag.

What should change:

Not rehashing the 2010 USMNT kit.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Nope.

A lazy reiteration of their 2016 kit is another head-scratcher where the Galaxy just changed the design of the sash and added nothing really new. D-

New England Revolution

Best Features:

The red collar accent and flag jersey tag.

What Should Change:

I would make the two stripes into multiple.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No.

This kit just doesn't work for me. Kudos to the Revs for trying something slightly different, but the combination of the random two stripes and the logo oddly crossing it just makes this kit feel awkward. C-

Vancouver Whitecaps

Best Feature:

The gray and silver color scheme.

What Should Change:

Either a different sublimated pattern or none at all.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No.

This kit is a good idea that just didn't work. Too many triangles across the board. It attempts a nostalgic, subtle design but ends up just being overkill between the logo and the pattern. C-

New York City FC

Best Features:

The slate gray color and the white-out badge.

What Should Change:

It needs more design overall.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

If it had the cost of a training jersey, yes. MLS authentic? Nope.

This was a bit of a risk by NYCFC and it’s not horrible. The problem is that it comes off as a training ground shirt instead of a game day kit. I absolutely love the white-out badge on this kit though. C

Los Angeles FC

Best Features:

The inaugural season jersey tag and the arrow sublimated graphic on the home kit.

What Should Change:

Get rid of the red logo.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Absolutely not.

This jersey fails for one major reason and one alone: the Youtube logo. I have a giant disdain for logos that don’t fit and LAFC clearly lost a battle with the streaming service. If it would have just had the words, I would give a better grade but overall it is not a great showing from its first kits. C

Colorado Rapids

Best Feature:

The Colorado flag jersey tag.

What Should Change:

Can I say their colors?

Would I Buy It as Non-Fan?

Pass.

The Rapids, in my opinion, are always at a disadvantage with the worst color scheme in the league. This kit is clean and simple, but is ultimately just average. C

Real Salt Lake

Best Feature:

The tri-color scheme.

What Should Change:

Do something different.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Nope.

This is one of the clubs that needs to try something different. It is a super generic, basic kit that does nothing exciting. C

Portland Timbers

Best Features:

Integrating the Timbers Army chant into the kit; the socks.

What Should Change:

Add in some graphic sublimation.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

On sale maybe.

This pained me. I love the Timbers usually. I love the color scheme. But this just failed in the simplicity department for me. Not enough here. C

Columbus Crew

Best Feature:

The black stripes.

What Should Change:

Change the logo color to yellow; don’t use the same graphic treatment.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

I’m from Ohio, so yeah most likely. But maybe when it goes on sale.

This kit pains me to grade it so lowly. It’s too similar to the 2016 version and therefore I dock this version because of that. I would have gone all in on the black and yellow and put the logo in yellow too (if Acura would allow it). C

New York Red Bulls

Best Feature:

The red kit.

What Should Change:

It’s too simplistic and needs something more. Maybe a logo color transposition.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No.

It’s not a bad kit, but I just don’t feel it. I like that the Red Bulls went with a secondary of red. I just think the red on red on red is too much. It needs something more. B-

Chicago Fire

Best Features:

The use of the three colors. The sleeve accents.

What Should Change:

Nothing honestly.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No.

I get it, I’m being finicky here but I actually really like this kit the more I see it. But for whatever reason it’s not hitting home for me to bump it up. I like the use of the cross sash in a three-tier design andI like the blue stripes. It’s partly too similar to the 2016 version with some clean updates and that’s what loses it for me. B

San Jose Earthquakes

Best Features:

The graphic treatment and the jersey tag.

What Should Change:

Going a little more subtle in the graphic treatment.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No.

Depending on the day, I love or hate this kit. I think the graphic treatment is ultimately just too much. But I love the nod to the original San Jose team in the jersey tag. B

Orlando City

Best Features:

The zip code in the jersey; the monochrome badge.

What Should Change:

Add some purple lining at the bottom of the kit; try a different pattern on the jersey.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Well, I am a fan so I will buy this kit, but probably later in the year.

I told myself I would be objective here. I think it’s too simple. It’s very clean and sharp but I just get the sense it is missing something. Maybe it’s the gold or that the seven pinstripes — despite the cool nod — are just too little. It could even be the new logo. I loved the parley kit from last year — the best Orlando kit ever in my humble opinion — and was really hoping for something like that. B

Atlanta United

Best Features:

The peach; the gradient tie-back to the stadium

What Should Change:

The sleeve and bottom of the kit accents.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

If it wasn't Atlanta, probably

This kit hits most of the areas I thought City was lacking. With so few clubs using alternate colors, I love the choice to use the state’s unofficial color. The tie to the stadium in the graphics is a huge plus for me that works. B+

FC Dallas

Best Features:

The blue sleeves, the tricolor, and the red Adidas logo.

What Should Change:

Nothing.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No.

This is clean and executed brilliantly. The use of the three colors is done very well. The simplicity of it all holds me slightly back from calling this amazing, but I have a hard time pointing out flaws here. B+

Houston Dynamo

Best Features:

The primary color of the kit; the retro feel.

What Should Change:

The color of the Texas flag.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Potentially.

The look and feel of this kit in a modern but retro way is fantastic. I love it. I do think because of FC Dallas and its color scheme I would have used monochrome for the Texas flag, but that’s about it. A-

Toronto FC

Best Features:

All of the accent colors; the silver maple leaf.

What Should Change:

Nothing.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

No, but that means nothing on this one.

This kit is clean to a T. I love the red collar and the gradient lines across the kit. The side stripes play well to the overall kit construction as well. And the two-tone logo fits so well here. A-

D.C. United

Best Features:

The silver logo and blacked out stripes

What Should Change:

Maybe red sleeve accents.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Yes.

I’m a sucker for two-tone horizontal stripes and D.C. crushed it. Everything in the accents are super clean and the historical nod in the jersey tag is great. A

Seattle Sounders

Best Features:

The individual aspect of all kits.

What Should Change:

Nothing.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Absolutely.

This might be my most polarizing grade but I adore this kit. The fact that each kit has different brushwork patterns is phenomenal to me. Thinking through the nature and camo aspect of the Pacific Northwest culture makes the graphic a win for me as well. A

Sporting Kansas City

Best Feature:

The color scheme.

What Should Change:

Not a thing.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

I plan on it.

When I talk kits, SKC is always at the top of the list. This is monochrome, simplistic heaven. Everything works and the single button collar on the monochrome is just class. A+

Minnesota United

Best Features:

The red button and the side stripes.

What Should Change:

The blue accent on the sleeves,

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

Yes

First off, I love the logo. It plays so well on kits. Secondly, the touch of red is brilliant in the button and plays so subtly well. This is one of those kits that the stripe placement is important and having the stripes on the side fits well to break up the graphic treatment. Well done Minnesota. A+

Philadelphia Union

Best Feature:

The faded tone of the stripes.

What Should Change:

Don’t you dare touch anything.

Would I Buy It as a Non-Fan?

100 emoji. Absolutely.

This is the class of the 2018 collection. The faded stripe on the sheer kit is just unbelievable in the combination. The logo is one of those few odd colors that just works and pops off the kit unlike normal ones. Nothing is out of place here and I love every bit of this shirt. Perfect marks, plus a bonus. A++


So there you have it. I know you’re going to come at me. Tell me your favorites, which ones would you buy, what was horrible. etc.? Looking forward to the discussion!