It’s one of the first things you notice on a player, and it leaves an immediate impression on an impartial viewer. A team’s jersey says a lot about them as a unit. Just like any clothes: if you look good, you feel good. This upcoming 2012-2013 MLS season has brought new players, stadiums and uniforms, but a lot is left to be desired.
I have been thinking about writing about the new sets of uniforms for some time now. So what finally pushed me to do it? I recently read that Quaker Oats may be the new jersey sponsor for the Chicago Fire. My first thought: I was appalled. My second thought: Life cereal is pretty tasty. But, back to the first thought. I do not have anything against Quaker Oats specifically being the jersey sponsor. However, teams have to be very careful when printing their sponsor on their jerseys. The Chicago Fire really shouldn’t suffer through another Best Buy fiasco. When you have a jersey covered completely in red then your eyes are automatically going to be drawn to the one large white banner across the chest. It is ridiculous how many people, who are unfamiliar with soccer, thought the team was the Chicago Best Buy. In the past, that one white banner has read: Chicago, Fire, Best Buy, and now possibly Quaker Oats. What I really want to stress here is that it is not important what sponsor you have on the jersey, just how you do it.
The main focus of a jersey should not be the sponsor name. It obviously has to be in a prominent position, usually the chest. But, other MLS teams should take a page out of DC United’s book. While their jerseys are not the best looking, and I already have a disdain for black jerseys, they incorporate their sponsor’s logo well. They accent the black jersey with white stripes. They use this same style with the VW logo. But here’s the kicker, the VW logo is originally blue and white. DC United correctly decided to change the color of the logo for their jersey.
Some of the latest expansion teams have gone this same route. The Portland Timbers new third kit is a great example. They not only changed the color of the Alaska Airlines logo, but the font as well. The new font plays perfectly into the retro look of the jersey.
However, there are also a lot of missed opportunities. The Montreal Impact seemed to be doing great things with their jersey, that is of course until it came down to their sponsor. They updated their crest and it looks great. Their home jersey had a great Fleur-de-lis detailing on it. There was so much potential. But, they ruined it with the red BMO logo. There is no other red anywhere on the logo, and it therefore dominates the blue and white on the jerseys.
You may be saying to yourself that I am missing the point. The reason the logo is on the jersey in the first place is to be seen. Yes, I understand this. However, just because something is incorporated with the same colors does not mean it will be overlooked. It’s right across the chest for God’s sake!
Now, DC United and the Portland Timbers are not the only ones doing it right. Seattle Sounders sponsor, Xbox, looks good and LA’s is almost so plain that it’s hard to notice it. What I would hate to see is more teams designing their jerseys around their sponsor. I’m looking right at New York. However, when one sponsor owns the team name, stadium, jerseys, and everything in between, then that is kind of hard to get around.
Back to the Chicago Fire and Quaker Oats. Since writing this post, the new jerseys have been released. I have to say they got it right on one and wrong on the other. First, the wrong. The new home jerseys have the same problem as the old ones. Now, instead of a white banner, it’s blue and says Quaker with the rest of the jersey being red. You barely even notice the Chicago crest hiding above it. But now for the away jersey: it looks fantastic. They took a chance and used a new design the Fire have not worn before. The horizontal stripes across the torso make the entire jersey seem important rather than just the lone banner. I am glad to see them move away from the plain white jersey. Although the move for navy blue may have been to comply with the sponsor colors, they integrated it well by using other shades of blue and red stars to look like the Chicago flag. Basically, the second kit works very well because the colors work well together and the entire jersey is important and not just the sponsor. The colors and design really say “Chicago.” My only complaint here would be the face of the old man on the jersey. I really could have done without it.
A lot of complaints with MLS jerseys are hard to come up with because all-in-all MLS jerseys are pretty stylish. But every once in a while some bad ones still sneak in and there is really not much you can say. Come on Columbus…