MLS: Grading the new 2021 kits – Western Conference

With the 2021 MLS season fast approaching, clubs are unveiling their newest kits. Which kits are the best (or worst) of the bunch?

MLS clubs typically have two kits for each season: their primary kit and secondary kit. Clubs get new kits every other season, usually overlapping their primary and secondary so a new one is released each season. As teams open their preseason camps more and more kits are being unveiled.

There are a couple of reasons for club’s getting new kits so often, the biggest two being money and refreshment. New kits mean more sales, and a new kit every other year keeps things fresh and interesting for the fan base.

There is a love-hate relationship with 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).

You can see this year’s Eastern conference kit grades here.

Without further ado, here are your Western conference 2021 MLS kit grades.

Austin FC

Austin FC, being the only expansion team for the 2021 season, get two debut shirts. Their primary has a somewhat distinct look since striped kits are now a bit rare. The white trim is an interesting choice but provides a nice pop. If the popularity of Atlanta United’s inaugural primary is any indication, this will be an extremely popular shirt with Austin fans.

Primary: B+

Austin’s inaugural secondary kit uses the same EQT template from MLS’s 25th anniversary season last year. The green really stands out against the white although at the end of the day this is just another white kit. Also of interest: despite not partaking in the 25th anniversary season, Austin gets the EQT kit while one of the league’s first clubs (Chicago) doesn’t end up with one.

Secondary: C

Colorado Rapids

Major props to the Colorado Rapids for branching out with their secondary kit, the “Class 5 kit.” It’s not in the top tier of new kits for 2021 but it’s extremely close. The Rapids will be sporting a green secondary kit that features topographical lines of six iconic Colorado peaks and mountains. This is an extremely unique design for an MLS kit so the new Rapids shirt grades well.

Secondary: B+

FC Dallas

Like Colorado, FC Dallas is branching out with their new secondary kit this season. The “Community Kit” is predominantly baby blue with red trim and a subtle diamond pattern. Perhaps the diamonds are too subtle and the blue isn’t blue enough, but Dallas deserves credit for doing something different. The red trim and numbers pop as well, giving Dallas a solid new secondary shirt.

Secondary: B-

Houston Dynamo

Truthfully there isn’t much to say about the Houston Dynamo’s new primary kit. In fact, it doesn’t even have a name like most MLS kits. It’s another orange shirt for the Dynamo, complete with mostly black trim and a little bit of white trim. The only notable part of Houston’s new primary is their new crest, which they unveiled in the offseason.

Primary: D-

LAFC

LAFC’s new secondary kit this year is dubbed the “Heart of Gold” kit. As you can see it certainly looks gold-ish, although it could also be described as beige. Maybe it’s more gold looking in person but despite the club’s attempt to do something not white, this is a bit of a miss. The design itself is very plain and for a club as big as LAFC, it leaves a lot to be desired. The Los Angeles sleeves are a nice touch though.

Secondary: D+

LA Galaxy

The LA Galaxy get a new secondary kit, aptly named the “Community Kit.” This secondary shirt is already one of the best kits in the league. It has a wonderful throwback touch, a unique look, and has almost no semblance of the primary kit. This might be a perfect secondary kit, especially in a league as bland as MLS.

Secondary: A+

Minnesota United

Minnesota United get a new secondary kit ahead of the 2021 season. Dubbed the “River Kit”, the new shirt sports a bright blue look and subtle wave pattern. Blue seems to be a popular choice for MLS teams this year but Minnesota’s vibrant version is set to stand out. And as an added bonus, Minnesota are one of the few teams without a white kit or black kit.

Secondary: B-

Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers are following the LA Galaxy down the throwback route. The Timbers’ new primary kit is a fantastic callback to the club’s first MLS primary kits a decade ago. The half and half look is also one of a kind in the league, providing Portland with some of the best kits in MLS.

Primary: A-

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake’s new secondary kit, the “Supporters Kit” is basically just a white shirt. The slight gray pattern is very interesting and is a nice nod to their supporters, but at the end of the day you can’t see the design unless you’re up close. Because the shirt probably looks white from the stands and on tv, the grade takes a little hit.

Secondary: C-

San Jose Earthquakes

In similar fashion to Los Angeles and Portland, the San Jose Earthquakes are throwing it back with their new primary kit. “The First Star Kit” features a predominantly blue look with white bars down the sides in a nice callback to the club’s 2001 MLS Cup triumph. This particular shade of blue looks good paired with black shorts, even if the design itself is a bit plain.

Primary: B

Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders deliver another wonderful kit with their new secondary kit, the “Jimi Hendrix Kit.” This shirt is probably the most unique looking kit in the league, but it’s not just the wild, psychedelic design that makes it so awesome . The predominantly purple design is a nod to Seattle native and legend Jimi Hendrix, as well as the match day tradition of playing Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

Secondary: A+

Sporting KC

Sporting KC are bringing back the hoops for the first time since their 2014-15 secondary kit. It’s hard to go wrong with their take on light blue/dark blue kits, and this particular hoop design, named the “Hoop 3.0 kit” is good yet again. Plus, a portion of all kit sales will go to The Victory Project as part of a new community campaign called “A Force for Good.”

Primary: B+

Vancouver Whitecaps

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The hoop kit is back for the Vancouver Whitecaps and is appropriately named the “2021 Hoop Kit”. Usually clubs that bring back extremely similar kits get dinged (i.e. Miami and Nashville) but the hoop look is already one of the best in the league, so there’s no sense in messing up a good thing.

Primary: A-