Tag Team, back again ...
Kit Nerds, rejoice! For it is upon us, this third annual tete-a-tete betwixt myself and the illustrious Mark Hinkley: the first, second, and last word on kits in my sphere, your sphere, just about the whole sphere. He’s the guy who once upon a time explained Colourways to me and also has a size chart so I know to size up x3 on Charly kits.
As always, let’s go alphabetical, and we’ll each contribute a blurb and a rating. This year, however, we’ve decided to split the kits into two (2) WTRticles.
This is Part One - A-L
ATLANTA UNITED : The Forest Kit (AWAY)
Mark Hinkley (MH): This is a stock Adidas pattern. Atlanta’s away kits should always be peach with green trim. You’re leaving money on the table doing anything else. I imagine the infographic explainer would be laughable.
Jeffrey P. Nesker (JPN): While I don’t understand the green or the “forest” theme (I remember Atlanta as two streets; Peachtree and Piedmont, and they were both long lengths of concrete and strip malls between CNN and the Coca-Cola Museum), I actually rate this. It’s clean and sharp and oh so close to the MLS-meets-British-Racing-Green Kit of my dreams.
AUSTIN FC : The Sentimiento Kit (AWAY)
JPN: Oh look, another mint kit. is this what the kids call “on trend”? Also i cannot take the name seriously, it’s hipster nonsense. Looks like an under ripe Nashville kit. Yawn.
MH: I’m in the camp that mint as a primary colour is overplayed, underwhelming, and two years too late, as trends come and go. The black is a simple balance, but this is ordinary and blah.
CF MONTREAL - Secondaire Kit (AWAY)
MH: I see the second recycled Arsenal kit design, and I’m OK with it. Honestly, another terrible pallet leaves little flexibility, but I’ll admit the “Microsoft Word default blue” as a marble pattern kinda works here. It’s interesting enough. Can’t wait to see how it pairs with their next year boring home kit, replacing the current boring home kit.
JPN: I really liked it in the original Arsenal.
CHARLOTTE FC : The Carolina Kit (HOME)
JPN: I really really liked it in the original Arsenal, part 2: Electric Boogaloo.
MH: I love the deep sky blue chest/white sleeves Arsenal treatment here. V-neck collar and cuffs look nice, it’s simple but iconic and difficult to mess up. Adidas hasn’t been super generous with decent first kits but this is a smashing debut.
CHARLOTTE FC : The Newly Minted Kit (AWAY)
MH: See Austin? This is better. Still played out but better, the primary difference being those wavy bits on the collar and cuffs and the inverse of colours. It’s still blah.
JPN: I refuse to get even a little bit excited for a colour reversal of last years LAFC away kit. Charlotte got worked by Adidas here, both inaugural kits are lesser versions of recent drops. Not a good omen for the side. Not at all.
CHICAGO FIRE SC : The Watertower Kit (HOME)
JPN: Wondering if they used the same material here as the new Colorado kit, it looks loose and sheer and shines like faux-silk, the perfect kit to wear over a hoodie like the cool kids do. The sublimated details on the chest are cool if dangerously close to looking like a manufacturing error.
MH: A pattern in the chest of a local landmark building tower thingie that has some meaning and identity is nice. It’s got the improved badge which is good. Not much to this, until a sponsor ruins it but it’s the road to repair.
COLORADO RAPIDS : The Club Kit (HOME)
JPN: See? It’s the same as the Chicago one above. This one is nicer because the lighter primary colour allows us to see those sweet (?) sublimated details.
MH: This is a great kit. The burgundy/sky blue is always a winning combination. This could’ve been improved by adding sky blue to the mountain peaks in the fabric of the chest, adding sky blue cuffs and/or, maybe this is the Canadian in me, have the mountain crags look more like mountains and less like maple leaves.
COLUMBUS CREW SC : The Gold Standard Kit (HOME)
MH: Really painted yourself into a corner going with this c-banner badge thing. The previous iteration had checkers. You can/could do so much with checkers. Except the fabric has isometric cubes, surely in honour of their much heralded box industry.
JPN: If you have to get REALLY CLOSE to the kit to see the details that make it NOT a plain yellow T-shirt, you may have a tough time selling said kit, also, double up on the deoderant. Also, I. Hate. That. New. Badge.
DC UNITED : The Black and Red Kit (HOME)
JPN: I very much like this. The black on black with red trim is smart and classy. Really hope eventual Crypto-Bro sponsor doesn’t ruin it.
GRADE: (Sponsorless) A / (Sponsored) UNKNOWN.
MH: I feel it takes some effort to make a bad DC kit. They have a great badge, strong colours, and even with eye-rolling crypto sponsors, it’s still great. I love the black with black stripes within the chest. It’s so simple, so nice. I would’ve liked more red and the only place I could get it to fit would have been to make the collars and cuffs all red instead of a thin red stripe with black around it.
FC CINCINNATI : The Juncta Juvant Kit (HOME)
MH: I think they came within a thread of perfect. I like their colour pallet so liking this orange with blue trim would be hard to undo. I kinda dig the silver stripes on the shoulder, it’s a bit weird, but it’s a safe place to have fun. I like the blue/silver badge treatment. I like the civic flag outline imprint in the fabric where the badge sits in the centre of the “C”. I feel that the sponsor should’ve been white, that’s it.
JPN: WKRP FC (h/t to the Vocal Minority) have legitimately great fans, a great new barn, and great kits - too bad about the Soccer. This is another banger. Colourway is gorgeous, trim is tight. Clean.
FC DALLAS : The Crescendo Kit (HOME)
JPN: This kit is too clever by half, the ‘hoops’ look like a mistake, there are blocks of solid blue in weird places. I want to like it more but I just can’t.
MH: Why not solid hoops? Why not solid hoops with uniform size/spacing? Why this? Why both meshy hoops and gradually thinner hoops? How about JUST the meshy hoops but we keep it the same size as the top one and go all the way down. You’re welcome. You didn’t though.
HOUSTON DYNAMO : The Bayou City Kit (AWAY)
MH: Why? Honestly, why? It’s like there’s a creativity reservoir over in Germany for the entire league and they had a thimbleful of creativity left for this one. This is apparently called the “Bayou City” kit, and it looks like sludge and pollution.
JPN: Don’t hate this as much as Hinkley, but I certainly don’t like it either. Concrete Camo or Rorschach test? Who cares?
INTER MIAMI CF : The Heartbeat Kit (HOME)
JPN: Oh, Team Miami Beckhams, this really shouldn’t be so hard. Took this long to do a pink kit, and we get this threadbare thing that I can guarantee is see-through from sweat after 2 minutes of game action.
MH: This feels like a phoned-in design. The pink collar, which I adore, is the most interesting part and pulls it from being a C-. Pink with black but pink. Apparently there’s some inspiration from celebrity owner David Beckham and I couldn’t give a damn. David Beckham isn’t an artist, he’s an owner. You got a sweet badge, gimme a sweet home shirt, dammit.
LA GALAXY : The City of Dreams Kit (HOME)
MH: Man, did you see what the neighbours did? Did you see? You thought adding all those 4-point stars all over the place was going to wow? I mean, from a distance, it looks like the collar is sparkling, which is one hell of an optical illusion given that there’s no metallic in there. It’s strange, but also very “LA Galaxy”. It’s both “MLS wacky” and yet “Galaxy on-brand”. So I don’t hate it.
LAFC : The Five-Year Anniversary Kit (HOME)
JPN: General consensus is this is the pick of the litter. Leave it to me to be contrary. I HATE centre badges. Art Deco is cool, for Miami. (Yes I know downtown LA is all about the deco, but downtown LA is 1300th on the places you go to in Los Angeles/think of when you hear the words “Los Angeles”).
MH: Do we do “S Tier” on this Jeff? Honestly, look at it. It looks like art, looks fancy, classic, classy. It looks like ‘holy crap how do we top this in two years’ kind of good. It oozes Los Angeles, art deco pattern with the old gold. Vertical patterns of the shirt lend to the centering and stacking of the badge and Adidas sponsors. It’s incredible. This is too good for MLS. Bravo.
So there you have it, the first 14 kits of our round-up. Since I’m letting Markus have the last word and putting his ‘wrap-up’ blurb as the closer on part 2, I’ll jot down mine below:
This year’s crop is a huge meh for me. Did I even assign an A grade to a single kit? The fact I don’t care to remember speaks volumes on my overall impressions. There isn’t a knockout like last year’s LAG Away (still yearn for the long-sleeve) and the TFC one is divisive as heck. Overall, there are far too many ‘borrowed’ designs from other Adidas clubs (looking at you, Arsenal) and they even recycled bits from MLS kits released only last year. The shine on this exclusive deal with Adidas has long since worn off. GIVE. ME. HUMMEL. CHEVRONS.
What do you think of our reviews? Agree? The other one? Let us know in the comments, and keep your eyes peeled for a special episode of Waking The Red Weekly wherein Mark and I discuss our ratings.