Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thoughts on The Next USMNT Kits

As the World Cup approaches, this time of year is well known among jersey aficionados as the time that nations expecting to compete in the next World Cup, slated to begin in June 2010 in South Africa, to debut their newest kits to the viewing public and millions of fans. Germany has already unveiled their 2010 home kit, and other nations will soon follow.

Here in the U.S., many soccer fans are starting to speculate over what the national team will be sporting in their expected return trip to South Africa. There is huge debate over what the USMNT should sport as their new kits, but growing consensus has been reached that most people would like the USMNT to 1) have some sort of red kit (since that is what the main supporter groups, American Outlaws and Sam’s Army, wear in the stands), and 2) create a kit that can have some identity that can live on in future kits. What this exposé seeks to outline is what could possibly be the next kits, and how these possibilities could create an identity for U.S. fans to rally behind.

In 1950, the U.S. defeated England 1-0 in the World Cup in what some people still consider to be the biggest upset in World Cup history (and the biggest victory in U.S. soccer history). In that game, the U.S. came out in a white kit with a red diagonal sash along the front from right shoulder to left hip. That look has been repeated a couple times recently with the U.S. as a throwback. However, this could possibly be something that we could incorporate as the next kit (picture courtesy of dont_thread_011 of BigSoccer). Some would say that Peru also has the diagonal sash, but Peru also is a longshot every cycle to make the World Cup. Plus, this design has a special place in U.S. soccer due to that 1950 game. This as the home kit could be paired with a red away kit with a blue sash or a navy kit with a white sash. Regardless, I’m of the opinion that the home kit is the most important, and this shirt paired with navy shorts and red or white socks would be a classy kit that could weather the storms of history and become a kit that would identify well with the U.S.

In 2006, the U.S. showed up to Germany with what is by far the most popular set of World Cup kits that we have had. The home kit was white with a vertical red and navy sash on the left side, while the away kit was a navy blue kit with a red and white horizontal sash across the front with space in the middle for the player number. This set of ideas brings that idea back to the table, with the vertical dual-colored sash being the winner (pictures courtesy of EPJr on BigSoccer). With the home kit being white with a navy and red sash with navy shorts and white socks, the away kits could be red with a navy and white sash, navy shorts and white socks. A possible third kit could be navy with a red and white sash, red shorts and white or navy socks. Having multiple options for kits is great, and working in the 3 important, symbolic colors of the U.S. flag is the only way to go about it. While this poster posted a grey kit as a 4th option, I’m not too keen on it. The other ones, however, are sheer class.

The best option, in my opinion, has been saved for last (picture also courtesy of dont_thread_011 of BigSoccer). When Croatia came about in the mid-90s, they came in style with a kit with red and white checkerboards. It was instantly recognizable, and seeing the stands full of Croats in their team’s kit is really a signt to see. Like checkered patterns, there is a particular pattern that is not used on the national team level (at least, none I have found) and would be incredibly perfect for the U.S. That, my friends, is the hoops. While the hoops are made famous by Scottish Premier League legends Celtic FC, bringing the hoops to U.S. kits would create something instantly recognizable around the world. The hoops would be red and white (symbolizing the stripes on the U.S. flag) with navy numbers and would be paired with navy shorts and perhaps red and white hooped socks. The collar could be solid navy blue or nonexistent…I don’t think either way would take away from the mystique of the kit. The away kit could then be solid navy with white or red shorts and navy socks. The hoops, in my mind, would be the best thing to happen to the U.S. kit. Sam’s Army and American Outlaws would form a sea of hoops. Wherever you go, whether it is New York or Tokyo or London, wearing the hoops could only mean one thing: The Yanks are here.

So, U.S. Soccer, take these designs to heart. The goal of this set of kits for the 2010 World Cup should be towards establishing an identity that will live on in future kits. The hoops are there for the taking…be smart and run with them. You will instantly up the intimidation factor of any stadium an opposing team dares enter with Sam’s Army and American Outlaws present.

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