Way back in November 2010, when I first saw Sporting Kansas City unveil its new brand and its new-look kits, I had a Vince-Vaughn-in-"Swingers" moment.
The Kansas City Star
Watching Jimmy Conrad and Omar Bravo on stage at the Power & Light District I thought to myself, the team "is all growns up" now. I wasn't completely in love with the name (it's grown on me), but I was taken aback by how much more professionally designed the jerseys were.
Arguably for the first time in history (unless you really have a thing for rainbow motifs), Kansas City had made it to the cusp of being fashionable. Sharp, modern colors. Simple design. Subtle flair. Designed to be worn on the field and off -- a key distinction that wasn't the case for much of the last decade.
When you look back through the photo archives of the team, you'll find a team that struggled to find its design identity. There were four years in the 90s with an array of rainbow-themed designs. Then a few years of basic (but functional) blue/white jerseys. A few years wandering around the blue spectrum looking for the right shade. Then some interesting experiments with shoulder pads. A few notable logo changes were in the mix too.
But nothing really translated, design-wise, as much as the new look Sporting brought in 2010. (Of course, an argument can be made, that much of the success of the re-brand is down to winning on the field. I agree with that. But it's hard to deny that looking good off the field is a key component too. If fans can wear your jerseys in public and look good doing it, it really helps spread your brand.)
On Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City will unveil a brand new jersey for the 2013 season. The basic colors will stay the same* but the look will change. Checkerboard? Two-tones? Perhaps. The biggest change, however, is that for the first time in franchise history, the kits will have a jersey sponsor: Ivy Funds.
*On SuperDraft day, KC revealed the away kits would stay the same.
As a fan of design (it's what pays my bills after all) and soccer jerseys, this topic is a perfect combination for me. I love scouring the internet for soccer jerseys. I love comparing different styles. I love the traditions and choices. I just love great soccer kits.
Do I have a folder filled with an example of every jersey in Kansas City history? Of course I do. In fact, you can view all of those folders here in this gallery. It's fascinating.
Having gone through the archives in anticipation of this day, I have five particular jerseys I want to highlight. Some are good. Some are bad. And some are historically ugly. Enjoy.
All of them, however, I would like to own. Some for obviously ironic reasons!
#5. Don't Be So Mono-Chromatic
This might be my favorite of the "boring blue" era. This kit isn't a classic, but it's got a lot going for it. Understated Wizards logo above the heart (the last year for the rainbow soccer ball). Clean typography across the front -- even if the number font doesn't match. A nice looking blue (the nicest of the pre-Sporting era in my opinion).
But the major point: It's not mono-chromatic.
For too often in the 2000s, Kansas City was pretty plain. Either plain blue or plain white. More often than not matching colors with tops and shorts. There's nothing more boring (but functional) than blue/white monochrome. Where is the accent color to make the main color pop? I'm getting ahead of myself.
#4. The Wizards "Dark" Period
Looking for a fresh look after the "boring blue" era, Kansas City opted to darken the shade to "cobalt" blue in 2008. The real improvement, however, was adding some new colors to the palette: Yellow piping and black accents. It helps define the main colors and looks more like a team jersey than a generic adidas kit. It also represents the first attempt since the decade began, to establish a consistent design identity in both the home and away jerseys
However, this kit loses points for being the era of the wide, rainbow-less "WIZARDS" logo. I think this one was at least fun.
#3. The Charlie Browns
I can't defend these jerseys. I don't hate them. You just have to remember that it was the 90s. It was a horrible decade for sports uniforms. Terrible colors. Horrible patterns. Whatever this is.
This was a major step down from the original rainbow-wave jerseys for Kansas City. But cut the Wizards some slack. It could've been much worse. Not much. But it could've been this...
#2. Lifesavers or Rodeo Clown gear?
Thankfully, Kansas City only wore this kit for one season. It was the third kit for 1997. It's just horrendous. I can't find another word for it. My apologies to anyone who may have been involved in the creation of this or who has this "lifesavers" kit hanging in their closet. It's not pretty. It looks like the sort of shirt a rodeo clown would wear to distract a rampaging bull.
I imagine that, if they had come out 10 years earlier, they'd have some how been in "House Party."
#1. The Most Underused Kit in KC History
I wish they'd use this kit more often. Right now, it's typically only used against teams who wear white (or light blue) while away from Sporting Park. It's a great color (indigo) that to me is much more engaging and wearable off the field than the main kits*. I'm also a big fan of the subtle club logos on the left side of the jersey.
*I'm not really in love with the light "Sporting" blue main color. To me it looks like a white shirt that got washed with a really dark blue shirt. It's not awful; just not my style. It's better than nearly every other kit.
Kansas City are keeping this kit in 2013. The club logo flourishes? Still there. Boom! Nailed it.