The primary kits of previous years
We knew (hoped?) the full reveal leak was coming. It is very rare these days that a team can keep its new design under wraps until whatever reveal party they may have. Today was the day that the new MNUFC kit was leaked. Before I break down the new kit, I wanted to take a brief look at recent MNUFC home kits to see how this new one fits into the family.
The original wing
The original winged kit was a lighter gray, much like what they wore their first season in MLS. It featured a wing on both the jersey and the shorts. In addition to the wings, it also featured a button collar with a red button. Overall it was a strong look, especially for a team in the NASL.
The darker gray
The uniform that followed featured a darker gray, a removal of both the wing on the shorts and the red button, and the numbers on the jersey/shorts were a light blue. This look improved upon the original wing kit as it gave us more legible numbers and removed the unneeded shorts on the wing that did nothing more than clutter a strong kit design.
The blue sash (NASL)
2015 saw MNUFC introduce a 3rd kit. Previously their uniforms were either dark gray or light blue. This kit was white and featured a blue sash meant to represent the Mississippi River. It was a gorgeous addition to an already strong brand and I was very disappointed this look wasn’t brought back for the 2016 season.
The blue sash (MLS)
With the quick turnaround from the NASL in 2016 to the MLS in 2017, fans were prepared to not have a wing. We knew (for the most part) that our first season would feature more a “off the rack” Adidas design. I think it is safe to say that none of us were expecting a lighter gray jersey and a blue sash. Personally I was pleasantly surprised as it seemed to tie in nicely to the original wing jersey with the lighter gray and the blue sash of 2015. It was a great consolation to having to give up the beloved dark gray/black wing design. Admittedly it wasn’t perfect or what fans wanted, though, and we knew it wasn’t a look that would stay.
The primary kit of the next two years
I give this history as I feel like it is an important lens to look through when evaluating the new primary kit we’ll be seeing for the next two seasons. A team’s visual identity is tied to their on the field look, more so than any marketing campaign or hype video they may put out (scarves up, by the way!). We are United, and dang it I want our look to feel like the United. There’s nothing worse than a team getting a new look and the team no longer feeling like the team you know and love. It’s as jarring as coming home from school and finding your dad has shaved his mustache that he’s had since before you born. It’s unnerving and no matter how much you look at him he just doesn’t look like “dad”.
Thanks to Conrad Burry we’ve gotten our first full look at the new kit. And personally, I’m getting a little bit of that “jarring” feeling again now.
From a design standpoint, I admit it is a solid look. Vertical stripes is a strong traditional soccer design and a lot of great teams feature this design. Before the cons, let’s look at some of the gorgeous pros.
The first two things that immediately grab my attention are the darker gray and the red button on the henley collar. The gray last year was a very awkward shade, as it seemed to clash with both light and dark colors at times. Going with a darker look this year will help give us more contrast against those lighter colored and white teams. The red button is also a great subtle touch and a great tie-in to the original wing jersey.
Putting “Forever United” along with the star from the crest inside the collar is another one of those oh so gorgeous little details on this kit. It’s something that isn’t visible when you’re wearing it, but it is guaranteed to give you goosebumps every time you put it on.
The last little detail that I like is the addition of the loon silhouette on the bottom left front of the jersey. Sure it runs the risk of being a little redundant with there already being the same loon design in the crest, but frankly I don’t care. It’s a design I never tire of seeing, and having the logo in black without a keystroke hides it enough and prevents any visual awkwardness or it competing with the logo for attention.
The vertical stripes. Bad design? No. As originally stated it is a strong traditional soccer design. But for the United? I really am not a fan. First and foremost it ends up looking as though there are 3 different grays on the kit, as neither of the colors in the stripes match the gray material used on the rest of the kit. Poor execution on the part of Adidas. Hopefully once this thing is outside in the sunlight it won’t be noticeable, but right now I can’t unsee it.
The other reason I’m not a fan of this look is that it is too close of design to Atlanta’s kit. The same Atlanta who came into the league when we did and smoked us 6-1 in our snow opener. The last thing I want is to look at my team and have their kit design remind me of that team. I’ve already seen comments from non-United fans make the comparison to Atlanta and I don’t like it.
I realize these cons are 100% my own emotional reaction and not a question of “is this good or is this bad design”. But then again one of the purposes of design is to evoke an emotional response. In this case, it’s a negative one for me.
In the end I can’t argue against anybody who looks at this kit and says “this is the best the United have ever looked”. I know there are some that never liked the wing kit and are already praising this new look. I won’t argue with them or say they’re wrong because this isn’t a bad design. For me the overall conclusion is...meh. Not terrible. Not ideal. Overall the pros outweigh the cons and even as I’ve written this article the look has started to grow on me. It’s got the best looking crest ever designed on it, which means I’ll be screaming “M-N-UFC” at it every game day. Come on you loons!!!
The first leak
So what about the first jersey that leaked? The one without the red button and the black trap around the crest?
This is the replica version of the kit. It is a cheaper version for consumer purchase, where as the version shown above is the authentic version. The henley collar with the red button is removed (this is very common, as shown with the D.C. United kit: replica | authentic), and the crest features a black trap instead of the normal crest. The reason for this, I’m guessing, is production cost. It is a lot cheaper to produce a single badge that can be attached without having to align a star than it is to have 2 different items attached. Yes the authentic version has it, but it is also more expensive. The 2017 MNUFC logo usage guide states “ Primary logo with black trap only to be used when execution of primary logo is unachievable.” In the case of the replica jersey, I’m guessing they are using the “unachievable” clause to reduce production costs. As some have pointed out on Twitter, it’s admittedly a bad look and changes the look and feel of the kit quite a bit.
I hope you all enjoyed this breakdown! I know I’m anxious to see these things in action. In addition to the darker gray, it’ll be nice to have kits with legible numbers and names on them this year.