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  • February 17, 2023 3 min read

    It's MLS kit season.

    The last couple of days in the kit world have been dominated by America's leading league. The long-term, league-wide deal with adidas facilitates a short, frantic release window where dozens of new shirts are launched in quick succession, and even though I knew it was coming soon it still caught me off guard.

    There is a lot to digest, with every single new release featuring some sort of bespoke detail or pattern. Most of the kits also include a jock tag detail, something U.S. teams do particularly well.

    Here are 3 of my early favourites.

    #3 - 2023 Portland Timbers home shirt

    First up are Portland Timbers. I've long been a fan of the Timbers base colour scheme, but recent home shirts haven't resonated with me as much as I'd want them to. The new 2023 home however is my favourite Portland home shirt since 2018. The prominent plaid pattern is just the right side of the tacky/tasteful divide for me, but what really helps sell this one is the gold trim. The new adidas construction (which we saw extensively at the World Cup) really shines with a contrasting trim colour, and the gold here is the perfect foil to the various shades of green.

    As if we needed any more, there's a lovely jock tag to enjoy here too. So many shirts from other leagues simply omit these kind of details, but the Portland shirt is one of many new MLS kits that possess such a feature.

    #2 - 2023 Seattle Sounders away shirt

    Next up is what seems to be the most popular release so far; the Seattle Sounders Bruce Lee kit. I wasn't expecting to type those words, but it just so happens there's a good reason for the Sounders to pay tribute to the legendary martial arts icon. Bruce Lee moved to Seattle at the age of 19 and enrolled in the University of Washington. He was even buried in Seattle; this is far from a random tribute. In many ways this new design follows in the footsteps of the Jimi Hendrix kit, and it's arguably just as good.

    The red, black and yellow colour scheme is punchy, even if it is a somewhat surprising choice for Seattle. All the various applications fit in neatly with the theme, and the abstract pattern is one of those which offers something different each time you look at it. Perhaps the best aspect of the shirt is the back neck detail. A wonderfully executed "Jeet Kune Do" emblem steals the show; I'd be surprised if we see many better single details on a shirt this year.

    #1 - 2023 Austin FC home shirt

    I'm expecting my number 1 pick to be quite controversial, but I can't deny my love for the new Austin FC home shirt. The unusual mashup of barcode and dazzle camo is admittedly quite busy, but the team's signature black and green colour scheme gives this one legs. A lot of people have drawn comparisons to last year's Barcelona's home, but if anything I'd say this Austin shirt rises about that primarily on account of the colours.

    The fact that adidas went all-in with this one is great to see. It would have been safer to go with some sort of symmetrical pattern, but the asymmetry here is a good sort of crazy. The sleeves especially are a lot of fun, and thankfully the bold YETI sposor doesn't facilitate a breaking of the pattern. This is one that's high on my personal wishlist for 2023.

    Several other shirts could have justified a spot on this top 3, it's simply a good time for MLS kits.

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