MLS: Grading the 2020 kits – Eastern Conference

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 01: Alvaro Medran #10 of Chicago Fire reacts in the second half against the Seattle Sounders during their game at CenturyLink Field on March 01, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 01: Alvaro Medran #10 of Chicago Fire reacts in the second half against the Seattle Sounders during their game at CenturyLink Field on March 01, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

With the 25th MLS season finally underway, clubs are playing in their newest kits. Which kits are the best (or worst) of the bunch?

MLS 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).

Here, we grade the Eastern Conference kits, based on creativity, individuality, unique touches, and any sort of tribute to the club’s history (if applicable). You can read the Western conference kit grades here.

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

Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United have a new secondary kit this season, and although it is predominantly white just like its King Peach predecessor, there are now gold accents instead of peach. A closer look at the front of the shirt reveals a subtle texture that recreates the inaugural five stripes and there is a jock tag with a spike driven through the ‘A’ from the crest. Like most teams in the league, this is yet another white kit. New to both of Atlanta’s kits this season is the silver star above the crest, representing the team’s 2018 MLS Cup win.

Atlanta fans have long asked for more gold involvement on the kits. This year’s newest addition, dubbed ‘The King’s Kit,’ looks to capitalize on that request while also subtly returning to the Five Stripes moniker that so many fans have embraced. An all gold kit with black or white trim would’ve provided more pop and creativity, so that hurts the overall kit grade.

Kit grade: C+

FC Cincinnati

Interestingly enough, FC Cincinnati will sport two new kits this season despite no longer being an expansion side. Reports indicate that Adidas was unable to prepare Cincinnati’s kits in an adequate fashion before last season, resulting in the players wearing replica kits on the pitch (as opposed to authentic ones).

This year Cincinnati get a ‘refreshed’ secondary kit called the ‘Heritage Link’ kit. It is very similar to the club’s first secondary kit, which was also white. The main change is the three stripes down the side of the kit, which are now blue instead of last year’s white shoulder stripes. There is also a subtle pattern on the front of the shirt and an orange and blue trim on the neck and sleeves.

Cincinnati also get a new primary kit this year. Dubbed the ‘Bold Kit,’ it has the 25th season shoulder stripes in orange, which pop nicely against the predominantly blue shirt. However, the club decided to go with two different shades of blue on the front, one of which isn’t part of the club’s three main colors. The dark blue is an interesting choice and makes the shirt appear to be overthought and complicated.

Because the club has another white kit this season, because that kit is barely different from the white one in 2019, and because their new primary kit is overdone, Cincinnati get a low grade. The only thing saving the grade from failing is the improvement on the white kit.

Kit grade: D-

Chicago Fire FC

The Chicago Fire are entering the 2020 season under unique circumstances regarding their new kit. Because of a rebrand, the club will get two new kits for the upcoming season. However, the team does not have one of the 25th anniversary EQT kits because the rebrand occurred too recently.

Chicago’s new primary kit is predominantly navy blue with red diagonal striping across the front. The shirt also has red trim on the neckline, sleeves, and shoulder stripes. It is yet to be confirmed, but based on the pictures shared by the club and MLS social media channels, the new kit appears to be replica only. There is no silver star above the crest and the ‘authentic’ tag found on Adidas kits is not seen in the pictures. This is likely a result of how recent the rebrand was completed.

Chicago’s new secondary kit is an all-white kit. In fact, this is probably the most disappointing kit of the season and feels very much like FC Cincinnati’s situation from just a year ago. Like the primary kit for this season, this new secondary kit is also replica only. Like Cincinnati last season, the kit is completely white with color only coming from the crest and sponsorship. There appears to be some striping down both the front and back but it is extremely subtle.

While it is important to note the time constraints affecting this year’s Chicago kits, the club still gets a failing grade. For a club already upsetting its fanbase with a rebrand, this year’s new kits do nothing to help the situation.

Kit grade: F

Columbus Crew SC

Columbus Crew are back in black this season with their newest secondary kit. Their previous secondary kit was also predominantly black, although this year’s edition gets the large shoulder stripes. Those stripes, along with the inside trim seen at the bottom of kit, will be yellow. The front of the kit also flaunts a unique checkered pattern in what appears to be a slight shade of gray. The silver star remains above the crest for Columbus’ 2008 MLS Cup trophy. Like the other original MLS teams from 1996, this kit has a ‘founding club’ tag on the inside of the waistline.

Although this kit, named the ‘Heritage Kit’, is basically a continuation of the previous secondary kit, the pattern on the front of the kit is unique to MLS. That pattern, along with the yellow shoulder stripes, gives this kit grade a serious boost. There aren’t too many black kits in MLS (yet) so that helps the grade as well.

Kit grade: B-

DC United

DC United get a new primary kit this season, and just like Columbus, it is predominantly black. The black looks great with this year’s white throwback shoulder stripes. The red trim is a nice touch, while the shoulder stripes offer a nice callback to the club’s former kits, specifically their first kit back in 1996, MLS’s first year. The new shirt will also reportedly be paired with red shorts, further doubling down on that 1996 look.

Because of the throwback look between the white shoulder stripes and red shorts, this kit gets a high grade. Adidas finally have a home run with this kit as it honors one of the MLS originals in this monumental season while not straying from DC’s main primary kits in recent years. The red shorts perfectly compliment the kit and the entire ensemble may be the best in MLS this season.

Kit grade: A+

Inter Miami CF

Miami are one of two new teams joining MLS in 2020 along with Nashville SC. Because this is Miami’s first year in the league, they will have two new kits for 2020.

Miami’s inaugural primary kit will be predominantly white with pink trim. There is a pink button at the collar, as well as pink trim on the sleeves and on the shoulder stripes. Inside the collar is a ‘Freedom to Dream’ slogan and the shirt has small herons sewn into the shirt.

Miami’s secondary kit, the ‘RosaNegra,’ is all black with pink trim and is the club’s 25th season EQT kit. Just like the primary kit, there are small herons sewn into the front of the shirt. The shoulder throwback shoulder stripes are pink and there is a Miami jock tag with the ‘M’ from the crest.

The herons are an extremely unique touch for both kits in comparison to the rest of the league. Yet, both kits feel like missed opportunities because of the beautiful color scheme the club has at its disposal. Because of a lack of overall design and because of poor execution in the primary (the white shirt/pink shorts looks awful on TV), these kits receive an average grade.

Kit grade: C-

Montreal Impact

The Montreal Impact get a new secondary kit this year. This new shirt is all gray, including the crest and sponsorship, with black accents on the big shoulder stripes and name and numbers on the back. There is a Quebec jock tag and part of the club’s values, ‘passion, pride, authenticity’ is inscribed inside the collar.

For a mostly plain secondary kit, this shirt is actually somewhat unique. There aren’t many teams in MLS with grayed out kits, so this particular one stands out on its own in that way. The white pinstriping on the front of the shirt also adds a slight pop and the black and white crest slightly stands out from the rest of the kit.

Because of the white pinstriping and unique color palette, this kit grades very well.

Kit grade: B-

New England Revolution

The New England Revolution get a new primary kit this season. The shirt, titled ‘The Original,’ is predominantly navy blue with white trim on the shoulders and a white brushstroke across the front where the sponsorship is. There is a 25 year anniversary jock tag and a New England flag on the back of the neck.

Because of the unique white bar across the front of the shirt and because of the 25th-anniversary patch, New England gets a solid grade on their kits this season. Another plus with this new kit is the pairing of red shorts. The blue shirt/red shorts combination is a throwback to the Revolution’s first kits back in 1996 and is executed well for the league’s (and club’s) 25th year of competition.

Kit grade: B+

New York City FC

New York City FC have a new secondary kit, titled ‘The Gotham Kit,’ for the 2020 MLS season. This new kit is a dark navy blue, which contrasts well with the team’s baby blue primary kits. The kit is accented with white on the shoulder stripes while the pattern across the front of the shirt is a mix between normal vertical striping and diagonal striping to create a chaotic but subtle design. There is a New York flag on the back of the neck as well.

New York get a solid grade on their new kit because the design on the front is unique and the white shoulder stripes pop well against the blue. Plus, New York do a good job of not succumbing to the usual white secondary, and they also avoid going to a black secondary like the Hudson River rivals.

Kit grade: B-

New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls will be sporting an all-black primary kit with red trim. Like the other founding clubs, there is a design along the inside of the back hemming listing the team as a ‘founding club.’ There is also a Red Bulls flag jock tag in red and the shoulder stripes are red as well.

The new kit, titled ‘Dark Mode,’ is executed extremely well. Although there are no extra stylistic additions to the kit outside of the jock tag, they will be the only team with a predominately black kit with red trim. It is similar to DC United’s new kit, but the two colors are different and there is no white in New York’s new kit.

Kit grade: A-

Orlando City SC

Orlando City get a new secondary kit for 2020. The ‘Heart and Sol’ kit is predominantly white with a purple sun radiating out from the crest. It is a very unique design to the league and features purple trim on the EQT shoulder stripes. There is also a purple jock tag in the shape of the state of Florida.

It is just another white kit, yet Orlando lucked up with the awesome stencil design radiating from the crest. This kit epitomizes Florida with a ‘sunshine state’ design while making the purple burst from the lion in the crest. The Florida jock tag is another bonus, while the purple shoulder stripes add to the overall design, making this one of the better white kits around the league.

Kit grade: B+

Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia get a new primary kit this season. Called the ‘Forever Faithful Union’ kit, this new shirt is primarily navy blue with gold trim and accents, including the shoulder stripes. The new kit features a jock tag with the Sons of Ben (main supporters group) motto ‘Ad Fined Fidelis,’ which means ‘faithful to the end.’ There is an even a gold snake design across the front, but it is hard to see unless viewed closely.

This new primary kit feels like a missed opportunity for the Union. The gold stripes look great on the shoulder and Philadelphia have a unique color palette to work with. Even the team-specific jock tag is cooler than most. But because the snake design is so subtle and hardly noticeable, the Union get an average grade. If the snake was more prominent, especially in the gold, this kit would be a rousing success.

Kit grade: C

Toronto FC

Toronto get a new secondary kit for the 2020 MLS season. The new shirt, named the ‘Unity Kit,’ is a balance between white and gray, though it appears to be gray from a distance because of a gray intersecting diagonal pattern on the front. There is red trim on the sleeves and shoulder stripes. This new kit features a Toronto flag on the back of the neck, as well as an ‘All For One’ jock tag with 28 cities from the Greater Toronto Area listed on the jock tag.

The gray pattern on the front gives Toronto’s grade a major boost, while the red shoulder stripes offer a clean yet professional look. As far as white kits go, this one is better than most because of how well the red trim pops. If the gray pattern on the front of the shirt is noticeable to fans in attendance, then this kit is even better.

Kit grade: B+