This week, MLS are speaking our language with an event called MLS Jersey Week.
Expect a number of shirt-loving pieces of content , as well as an obligatory hashtag, and also something which I’m particularly looking forward to: the “all-time MLS jersey bracket”.
I love a good bracket (few things are more American), and kit brackets are of course the best brackets. This particular all-time bracket possesses an interesting format too: each current MLS team has picked out the best jersey from their (in some cases VERY short) history, and the remaining spaces have been filled out by wildcard choices from our friends at Classic Football Shirts.
It’s great to see Classic involved, and as you’d expect their choices are all on the money. But when I looked at the team choices, I had to smile. There have been some stunning MLS kits over the years, but some teams completely fluffed their lines and somehow managed to pick out some of their WORST ever kits.
It’s time to set the record straight though. Here are 8 shirts that deserve a place in the bracket.
LA Galaxy 1997 home jersey
In all fairness to LA Galaxy, they had the hardest job of any team to pick just one shirt. Their jersey history is frankly ridiculous, and at least 3 or 4 of their shirts would be strong contenders to make the final.
It’s a shame the 1997 home missed out though. Unlike the 1996 home, this design has aged incredibly well and the colour scheme and design is one of the best late 90s combinations you’ll find across ALL teams, let alone just MLS teams. This would be my personal choice for winner of an all-time MLS jersey bracket.
Seattle Sounders 2013 away jersey
I love Seattle Sounders shirts, and their Xbox sponsor is probably my favourite ever MLS sponsor. The choice of the black kit from 2014 feels quite underwhelming considering their jersey history though. I’d have preferred the away shirt from the year previous, which featured a vertical stripe that weaved together the club colours.
(Also THE Djimi Traore scored a 30-yard screamer wearing this shirt. That has to count for something).
Dallas Burn 1996 home jersey
In the case of FC Dallas, I quite simply want more of the fire-breathing horse from the Dallas Burn days.
Sadly the memorable design is lost on the 1999 home. Give me the 1997 or the 1996 kits, where the horse took centre stage.
Real Salt Lake 2012 home jersey
Real Salt Lake fans deserve so much better than this.
The 2018 home is easily one of the most disappointing in the bracket, and the completely forgettable jersey could’ve been superseded by almost any other design from RSL’s history. I’ll plump for the 2012 home though, one of a range of asymmetric designs which showcase the best in early 10s shirt design.
Sporting Kansas City 2015 third jersey
The retro Kansas City Wizards kit deserves to win the bracket in my humble opinion (even though I prefer the 1998 rainbow kit), but unfortunately the Sporting Kansas City offering here is a swing and a miss.
Give me something like the 2015 Sporting KC third instead. The white and silver design is breathtaking and the sort of aesthetic you’d expect to see on a good anniversary kit. It wouldn’t topple the 90s Kansas kits, but it’d stand a chance against most other designs in the bracket.
Montreal Impact 2014 third jersey
Montreal Impact have yet to have a truly standout design across their jersey history, but more than one of their efforts would be better than their current home which has entered the bracket here.
I particularly like the 2014 third, the first time the team went down the Inter-esque black and blue stripes route. They haven’t looked back since.
New York City FC 2016 away jersey
Ok, the 2016 New York City away is not one for the purists, but the design, with it’s wavy circle emanating from the crest, is one of my favourites of the modern MLS era.
You could equally submit the current away shirt, which is one of the best across all the new 2020 designs, but that one needs a little more time to settle.
Toronto FC 2013 home jersey
I’ve saved the best ‘till last here.
Toronto completely fluffed their lines, offering up the vanilla 2017 home for consideration. Give me the 2013 vintage instead, with its fantastic, patriotic geometric maple leaf. There’s a reason the upcoming Canada national team home kit will feature a similar design, it works and certainly gives the team something of an identity.
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