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 Two - N-V
NASHVILLE SC : The Homecoming Kit (HOME)
Mark Hinkley (MH): These colours are terrible and I challenge anyone to come up with a good looking kit with these exact colours. The navy is too dark and against the highlighter yellow, it looks black, which would be fine, but Columbus is RIGHT OVER THERE. What I want to know, were the side panels taken from San Jose’s kit and put on here, or the other way around? It’s like someone took Fenerbahce’s pallet and left it in the sun for a week.
Jeffrey P. Nesker (JPN): No, MLS infographic, this is not “Gold”. This is a leaked highlighter. Loved the crossover collar in its original Arsenal. The solid navy blue blocks everywhere make this kit feel heavy and uneven. Kind of a mess.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION : The Liberty Kit (HOME)
JPN: It’s fine, I guess. The new badge feels Baseball and if you take away the hit of red on the collar, it’s pretty boring. Looks like the sublimated printing monster strikes again, though I’d be hard pressed to tell what it represents and all i see when i look at this all I see is Jozy coming up that staircase in it.
MH: It’s ordinary, it’s got the new badge, but does it have to be so pedestrian? Weird rectangular pseudo-checker pattern was clearly inspired by the carpet on the floor of the sales offices of every company everywhere. Navy and red stripes. Fixed it for 2024, send one to me and I guess one to Jeff as well. You’re welcome.
NEW YORK RED BULLS : The 1Ritmo Kit (HOME)
MH: I love checkers, I’m not crazy about scribbled looking checkers and I’m less enamoured by scribbled looking checkers with a drop shadow. I know that NYRB has been holding onto the checkers and it ebbs in and out of their kit designs, while this is OK, it should look great from a distance/on TV.
JPN: NYRB 2020 Away - The Onyx Kit we deserved. NYRB 2022 Home - The Columbus Crew Kit they deserve, in red. Noticing a trend here. Also miss me with that horrifically hipster name.
NYCFC : The Volt Kit (AWAY)
JPN: Dude Wipes FTW. This is clever and I can’t hate it. Probably my pick of the bunch. Still have no idea where Volts and NYCFC meet and why they get to claim electricity as club iconography. maybe it’s because they have to pay all utilities in their borrowed stadia?
MH: They tried. They absolutely tried to go bonkers and I’m here for it. The navy third of the kit reaches up to the neck and shoulder and looks great contrasting against the orange of the collar and the white of the stripes. It’s that fuzzy gradient thing separating the zig zag bolt. Unnecessary.
ORLANDO CITY SC : The Sunshine Kit (AWAY)
MH: OK, seriously though, hear me out. This Perth Glory kit (IYKYK) is part of a set. The home kit has a similar sun ray pattern concept, though infinitely more subtle. This is also the kind of bonkers I appreciate with away kits. It still fits the theme, and it’s different. I would like to see this kit being sponsored by Raisin Bran with the cartoon sun holding two scoops. Bet it works perfectly.
JPN: Yuck. This is a yikes.
PHILADELPHIA UNION : The For U Kit (HOME)
JPN: A bimbo for me, a bimbo “4 U”, everyone wins. Or loses. or draws, because there are draws in Footbaw. Don’t hate the stripe.
MH: While I have had a love/hate relationship with the bib pattern of early Union kits, that same gold/light blue/gold band as a racing stripe that runs off centre and under the badge looks great.
PORTLAND TIMBERS - The Heritage Rose Kit (AWAY)
JPN: No wait! This one is my favourite! While I’m worried it may become transparent on the pitch once you break a sweat, this is FASHION, and no pain, no gain.
MH: So close. I love it. it’s very Man Utd black away kit (the roses)/Stade Francais (the colours/pattern) thing going for it, but the burgundy is too... un-red? Brick or blood red for the contrast, and it’s a colour that I would often associate with a rose. I’ve had the argument already that roses come in this colour, but I’d argue that no one is looking for them in this colour.
REAL SALT LAKE : The Believe Kit (HOME)
JPN: I “believe” this is a repurposed Spanish National Team Kit. Oh look, there’s that crossover collar I like.
MH: Sure, they look like Spain, but Spain doesn’t have a kit this nice (yet). The collars and cuffs are wonderful, alternating between the three colours. I know this isn’t in Adidas’ pattern/style house but seeing how the cuffs turned out, put the gold stripes on top of a navy panel and change nothing else. It’s nit-picky, but this is tremendous.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES : The Creator Kit (AWAY)
MH: I like this and I shouldn’t. It’s a white ringer T-Shirt with black cuffs and that weird side panel stripey bit. It’s black and white. That’s it. It’s simple, but not too simple. The rating is supported by the comparison that it’s better than Nashville’s home shirt, so the score supports it.
JPN: They “created” a plain white T-Shirt, let’s celebrate!
SEATTLE SOUNDERS : The Legacy Green Kit (HOME)
JPN: That is one ugly “legacy”. So much nope. My eyes! The Goggles do nothing!
MH: They tried to do something different, and while I believe that the home kit is not the place you go bonkers, they still have a bonkers away kit, so next to the ‘purple haze’ one, this is ordinary. I feel like the pattern up close looks weird, but from a distance in the stands/on TV, this might look smashing.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY : The State Line 3.0 Kit (HOME)
MH: That’s it? A plain-ass navy kit with the area codes as a pinstripe that follows the shape inside of the shield? Two year design cycle, ladies and gentlemen. This is so ordinary. I feel for the designers who try to shoehorn whatever inoffensive watered down ‘thing’ into a some form of symbol of the city/region/state. Apparently Kansas City barbecue is a thing, how about a grill as a pattern? Why am I doing this work for you, honestly.
JPN: Maybe they’ll finally nail it on “Version 4.0”? This is bad.
TORONTO FC - The Community Kit (AWAY)
JPN: I’m a homer. I will buy it. I wish I was important enough to get a comped one, maybe in a few years? Overall it’s pretty meh, to be completely honest, but it’s Tee Eff Cee so I must has it. I’ve said it’s a grower, but I was maybe wrong because instead of liking it more, I’m more and more nonplussed about it. Also, I feel like “Light Onyx” is a cheat and it makes me very sad and mad. Probably looks great with my black jeans that are not sweatpants and therefore I no longer wear them.
MH: I genuinely feel you can do simple design and still look good. This is simple. Simple isn’t boring. I also love hoops and checkers and stripes and sashes and quarters and halves. That’s personality. You see it in other leagues everywhere else, and they only had a 60-100 year head start. I want more out of MLS/Adidas with these and one or two a release is far too passive. I suppose a white/pink or a pink/grey half and half would be too much for Miami to handle. Either way, I’m a fan of this.
GRADE: B (the more astute of you will notice that MH took away the ‘+’ from his knee-jerk review.)
AS A SPECIAL TREAT, WTR’s own Christopher Fung, who already has the kit in his possession, (Lucky - Ed.) has chimed in with his review:
Christopher Fung (CF) : After receiving the 2022/23 Toronto FC Authentic Community shirt, my first impressions are that it is a decent shirt and the simplicity of the design (or lack thereof for some) definitely has potential to grow on folks, but I am underwhelmed by the materials Adidas has used. The back of the shirt has a mesh-like material similar to that of practice pinnies (same as the current home shirt), while the front uses a polyester material similar to the non-breathable soccer jerseys of the early 2000s. Adidas has continued with their marketing campaign on the shirt of “Made with Recyclable Materials” and “End Plastic Waste”, while the shirt tags claim that the product is Aeroready (i.e. Water Absorbent and Feel Dry). The official colours are White and Light Onyx. Personally, this shirt ranks tied for 4th among TFC’s list of all-time away kits. The 2014/15 Onyx, 2010/11 White and 2016/17 White with Red Chest Stripe and Blue Stripe all rank comfortably ahead and I’m still undecided on whether it’s better or worse than the 2020/21 Grey Unity shirt.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS : The Hoop x This City Kit (AWAY)
MH: This is, more or less, the inverse of the home kit. White where the navy goes, navy where the white goes. It’s an ok looking kit all and all, but some of the elements look out of place. The sky blue stripes and the center white band are all stitched on. Maybe it’s the images, but it kinda looks weird up close, but that may be due to not being used to seeing that much stitching on the center chest panels.
JPN : That is the most hipster name of the year, and NYRB was TOUGH to beat.
“We built this Hoop x This City on Rock and Roll!”
It’s the opposite of the home kit. It’s clean and nice, but looks a bit off, can’t decide why.
This concludes our broadcast day. As promised in Part 1, here’s Mark’s closing blurb:
This release has 5 black kits and 5 navy kits, which is really dark, and given this league’s desire to conform to American TV standards, someone “dark” vs someone “light”, they really inhibit themselves year to year for striking colour combinations, kit variants and more interesting visuals. That being said, there’s some clear cut winners here amongst a rather homogenous style selection. Only one non-ringer, non-v-neck collar amongst 29 releases, and what little offerings of something visually different, most of them, I feel, will land positively amongst their intended audiences.
The questions I ask myself are 1) is this worth $150 of your money? 2) is this interesting enough? 3) is this really the best effort they could do with two years of planning? There may be other questions, but I keep coming back to it and use it as my measure. It’s all subjective and fun and I’m glad I could mentor Jeff through another one of these articles.
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.