MLS: Grading the 2020 kits – Western Conference

With the 25th MLS season fast approaching, clubs are unveiling their newest kits. Which kits are the best (or worst) of the bunch?

Major League Soccer clubs typically have two kits for each season: a primary kit and a secondary kit. Clubs get new kits every other season, usually overlapping their primary and secondary so that a new kit is released each season. As part of MLS’s 25th-anniversary celebration, all of the league’s kits were unveiled on February 5 and include three large shoulder stripes as a call back to the league’s earliest kits.

There is a love-hate relationship from the fans in regard to new kits. It is impossible to please every fan, but in a subjective sense some kits are better than others. Unfortunately, with Adidas being the sole kit provider for the league, creativity and individuality is not a big focus (for most clubs at least).

The Western Conference clubs will be graded today based on creativity, individuality, unique touches, and any sort of tribute to the club’s history (if applicable).

Without further ado, here are your 2020 MLS kit grades.

Colorado Rapids

https://twitter.com/ColoradoRapids/status/1225232862816821248?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Colorado get a new primary kit this year, and as part of the 25th anniversary, the club are calling the new kit the “Nine Six Kit.” The Rapids are one of the original clubs from that 1996 season and this year’s new threads will highlight that fact accordingly.

This new primary kit is predominantly burgundy with powder blue accents on the league-standard shoulder stripes and on the Adidas logo. The burgundy features a subtle diagonal striping. The shirt also features blue accents inside the waistline where it says “Founding Club.” There is also a Colorado state flag jock tag, as well as a Colorado “C” on the back of the neck.

Although the club is sticking with another burgundy kit without an especially unique design, they get a high grade because their colors are unique and because the blue pops so well against the burgundy. The “Founding Club” tag inside the waistline is another solid touch.

Kit grade: A-

FC Dallas

As one of the original clubs in MLS, Dallas get a smilier treatment to Colorado. This year’s new primary kit, named the “Legacy Kit,” is predominantly red with blue hoops and white shoulder stripes. The blue hoops get thicker as they descend down the shirt. The Texas state flag is located on the back neckline along with a Lamar Hunt jock tag. Just like Colorado, this kit will have a “Founding Club” tag on the inside of the shirt.

The retro return to blue and red is executed fairly well, especially when seeing the red shirt combined with blue shorts. However, the execution of the hoops is underwhelming and the decision to go with white shoulder stripes over blue stripes feels like a miss. This kit is close to grading well, but it misses the mark by a bit.

Kit grade: C+

Houston Dynamo

Houston get a new secondary kit, called the “HTX 15” for 2020. Like its predecessor, the new kit is predominantly black with orange trim. This edition has an interesting 3D lined design across the front in orange trim, giving the kit an interesting pop. The shoulder stripes are also orange, and there is a Texas state flag jock tag as well as a “Forever Orange” tagline inside the neck.

The Dynamo are one of the few teams in the league that don’t have to deal with a mundane white kit, so they automatically grade higher than most. The 3D design is more spectacular than usual, even if the front is slightly dizzying as a result. Overall this shirt grades well because of its unique design and solid execution of black and orange.

Kit grade: B+

LAFC

LAFC get their second-ever primary kit for the 2020 season. This new shirt, which doesn’t have an apparent name, is also predominantly black like its predecessor. There is subtle striping along the front of the kit and a 3252 inspired 3D raised jock tag. Unfortunately the tag is also black and is hard to see. There is also a “Shoulder to Shoulder” tag line inside the neck.

The club’s shirt sponsor, YouTube TV, is now in gold lettering instead of the logo’s usual red. This is a big change from the previous primary shirt and is the only thing keeping this kit from getting a failing grade.

Black and gold is an exciting color palette to have. This is especially true if you’re the only club with those colors. Unfortunately, this year’s new kit does nothing to take advantage of those colors. The shoulder stripes are blacked out, which seemingly defeats the purpose of every club using the same template for the 25th anniversary. Instead, gold shoulder stripes would’ve been a welcome addition. Even if the striping was outlined in gold, this kit would score higher.

Kit grade: D

LA Galaxy

The Galaxy get another primary kit for 2020. Like their city neighbors LAFC, there is no apparent name for the new kit.

The iconic sash is back, as is the predominantly white look the Galaxy have owned in recent years. The sash is silver, and although the sash itself isn’t as prevalent as in years’ past, the crest really pops on this edition as a result. The kit’s shoulder stripes are silver to match the sash and there is a “Since 96” jock tag to signify the Galaxy’s founding club status.

Luckily for LA, the sash is a timeless look for MLS. It’s almost impossible to mess up their primary kit at this point, but this may come as close as it gets. LA’s new kit feels like a safe move from designers despite its classic look. Plus, there’s a very good chance the sash gets lost in the light from far away, making the kit look completely white to spectators.

Kit grade: C-

Minnesota United

Minnesota United get a new primary kit for the league’s 25th season. The “Wing Kit” brings back the fan-favourite loon wing across the front in a subtle dark gray. The wing pops well against the light gray on the rest of the shirt without looking out of place. The icy blue shoulder stripes are a great touch for this shirt, keeping with one of the club’s main colors while not distracting from the main design.

Not only does this kit capitalize on one of the cooler crests in the league, but it also references Minnesota’s first gray MLS kit back in 2017. The icy blue shoulder stripes are a great touch for the predominantly gray kit while the subtle loon across the front is executed very well, creating an instant classic for Loons fans and fans across the league.

Kit grade: A+

Nashville SC

As one of the league’s two newest expansion teams, Nashville SC get two new kits in 2020. Their primary kit, named “Forever Gold,” is primarily a shade of gold (truthfully, it looks yellow) with navy blue accents. Their secondary kit, named “Nashville Vibe,” is practically the same kit but with the colors swapped. It is primarily navy blue with gold accents, including the shoulder stripes. Both kits have Tennessee state flag Tri-Star jock tags.

Truthfully, Nashville get a solid grade on their kits because of their color scheme. They are the only team in the league to have navy blue and gold as their colors and it creates a fresh look despite there being no actual creativity to the kit designs. However, because of the unique color scheme, it feels like the designers could have done more with these inaugural kits.

Kit grade: C+

Portland Timbers

Portland get a new secondary kit for 2020. The shirt is primarily white with thin green hoops and gold shoulder stripes. There is also a special ten year MLS anniversary jock tag with “P X T” lettering, as well as a “Forever Green & Gold” tag line inside the collar. The collar and sleeves are green as well.

This is one of the best kits in the league. Despite it being predominantly white, Portland grade well because of the green hoops and trim. The hoops are thin but frame the shirt in a clean way, while the gold shoulder stripes really pop against the rest of the kit. The ten year anniversary jock tag is also a cool touch for such a well-supported club.

Kit grade: A+

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake will have a new primary kit this season. Like its predecessor, the new kit is mainly claret red, but with a cobalt blue swirl design this time. The shoulder stripes are also cobalt blue and there is a beehive jock tag (the state emblem) with the numbers “05” for 2005, the year Salt Lake joined MLS. The club’s “As One” motto is on the back of the neck as well.

Because of their cobalt blue swirl design on the front, Real Salt Lake get a higher grade than most. How the kit looks in-person will be important though, because the swirl looks almost too busy in pictures. The shoulder stripes seem like a miss for this kit since the blue is very muted against the claret, and some may almost wish the stripes were gold instead.

Kit grade: C+

San Jose Earthquakes

The San Jose Earthquakes will have a new secondary kit for the league’s 25th anniversary. This year’s newest addition, dubbed the “408 Edition,” draws inspiration from the San Jose flag and is primarily white with a blue bar across the front, blue trim on the sleeves, and yellow accent just underneath the neck. There is also an “SJ74” jock tag and a “San Jose” tag on the back of the neck. This kit also has the “Founding Club” tag found inside the waistline.

This kit may be a divisive one for fans, but some may actually enjoy the yellow trim on the front. That trim provides a little pop for an otherwise boring white kit while not detracting from the blue bar underneath. The addition of yellow also gives this secondary kit a retro feel. Plus, the yellow, white, and blue “SJ74” jock tag doubles down on the use of yellow in an excellent way.

Kit grade: B-

Seattle Sounders

Fresh off their 2019 MLS Cup triumph, the Seattle Sounders get a new primary kit for 2020. Like all of the previous primary kits, this year’s edition is rave green with blue trim on the sleeves and neck along with white shoulder stripes. Dubbed the “Forever Green” kit, the front of the shirt includes a subtle green texture and showcases a Washington state jock tag, as well as a state-inspired flag on the back of the neck.

At this point, rave green and blue are synonymous with the Sounders and the look is becoming a classic. The Washington state jock tag is one of the cooler ones found on a kit this year, although the use of white instead of blue on the shoulder stripes is questionable, as the white may wash out with the green from far away.

Kit grade: B

Sporting KC

Sporting KC will get a new secondary kit for the 2020 season. The kit is predominantly indigo blue with Sporting Blue Swiss dots and silver shoulder stripes, which are inspired by the silver metal fins from Children’s Mercy Park. The club’s motto “For Glory For City” sits on the back of the neck while the new shirt also gets a “Founding Club” tag inside the waistline.

The subtle Sporting Blue Swiss pattern is indistinguishable from distance but the silver shoulder stripes are a classic touch for a club with such an identifiable color scheme. Because the pattern is lost from distance, this kit grades a little lower as a result. Some silver trim on the sleeves would raise the grade as well, but they are not present.

Kit grade: B-

Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver get a new secondary kit for the 2020 season. Named the “Wave” kit, the shirt is dark blue with smoke blue trim on the neck and sleeves. The shirt also features a subtle wave pattern across the front. There is a city flag jock tag in addition to a city motto on the back of the neck that reads “By Sea Land and Air We Prosper.”

Vancouver’s unique jock tag and city motto help the kit to stand out. The design of the motto is especially well-executed. Also, the smoke blue shorts look great when combined with the shirt itself, giving this kit a strong grade compared to others.

Kit grade: A-

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