With every new season, each team in Major League Soccer drops new threads, and those of us on this side of the laptop keyboard critique and rank them all. Here at The District Press, we are not immune to these base impulses, so this is where we subject you to our collective take on the best and worst of the new crop of MLS shirts.
First, though, we must acknowledge that this is easily the best group of new kits Adidas and MLS have produced since… probably ever. After years of fans and pundits asking—begging—for something more than the constant devolution to all-black/blue/red vs. all-white in every game, the 2023 uniforms finally deliver. Teams took risks this year, and a lot of them worked. Several, of course, extremely did not.
This list is the result of a very rigorous and totally scientific poll among the staff of The District Press. If you disagree with anything here, well, that’s on you. (Just kidding, hop in the comments to let us know your favorites and least favorites!)
The Top New MLS Kits of 2023
Countdown style, because suspense is important!
No. 6. Colorado Rapids
The design is cool to look at and works on the field and on the street. Using it to promote destigmatizing mental health struggles is even better. -Adam Taylor
No. 5. Seattle Sounders
If you take a look at Seattle’s away jerseys since 2017, they’ve tried stuff far bolder than D.C. has considered, and done so for longer (Seattle had pink on their away four years ago!), and this is the second consecutive effort where they’ve gone bold in effort to move away from their traditional color palette, and put a few things in it that make it work. -Ryan Keefer
No. 4. Minnesota United
MNUFC’s Northern Lights kit really meshes with the local scene and the colors definitely brighten my day at this dreary time of year. -Sarah Kallassy
No. 3. LA Galaxy
I am a sucker for a flag kit, and when you can make it double as a throwback and execute it as well as this, you’ve got a winner. -Adam Taylor
No. 2. Portland Timbers
I encourage teams to embrace their culture, and Portland’s lumberjack culture is certainly on display here. I appreciate how the plaid is in various shades of green so as to not overly stand out. I know who the team is when I look at it, and it looks great. -Kerry Hess
The plaid is extremely fun, distinctive, and stereotypically Portland. -Annie Elliott
No. 1. D.C. United
Obviously, D.C. United’s cherry blossom kit is the one we’ve all been waiting for. FOREVER. I’m thrilled but wish the pink popped a bit more. Appropriately, cherry blossom match night is on my birthday. -Sarah Kallassy
The Cherry Blossom kit hits perfectly for me. They finally got it right and gave the fans what they wanted! -Donald Wine II
Is the design *too* subtle? Maybe not. My wife wasn’t thrilled with the abstract blossoms (the blossoms being lines), which caught my negative eye as well, though it’s growing on me. It’s still superbly beautiful, unique to our District, and will be a personal favorite for decades to come. -Kerry Hess
I’m always a fan of cherry blossoms. This kit has a lot of little details that elevate it. The only thing I could ask for is more pink. -Annie Elliott
The Worst New MLS Kits of 2023
This is technically a count-up, which should make you mad. But that’s the point of highlighting the worst. So let that anger flow!
No. 24. Toronto FC
Toronto… what are you doing? -Marc Machado
No. 25. FC Cincinnati
I know the Ohio River. I grew up on the Ohio River. This, sirs, is not the Ohio River. It’s a sink faucet. Or a pitcher of water. -Adam Taylor
No. 26. St. Louis City
In a season of moving away from basic white jerseys is this… basic white jersey. Extra points off for looking like a recycled shirt from last year. I get they had double the work of everyone else, needing to design two kits for this year, but they clearly decided just to design one and call it a day. -Adam Taylor
No. 27. FC Dallas
When your style inspo is an early 2000s Ed Hardy who’s gotten really into beige. -Annie Elliott
The idea is so good! But the execution is so… bland. I’m not sure this shirt warrants a bottom-3 ranking in a vacuum, but for the missed opportunity here, major demerits. -Adam Taylor
No. 28. Los Angeles FC
My brain keeps going back to gross things when I try to pinpoint what color this is. When I see LAFC, I want to feel like I’m at a luxury night club, which is what I believe their branding was all about. Now, I’m uninspired. At least the badge is unique. -Kerry Hess
Not loving LAFC’s new look. They went from epically classy Art Deco vibes to… this? Love the intent but not the delivery. -Sarah Kallassy
No. 29. New York Red Bulls
I honestly don’t know what I’m looking at here. Is it a bruise? Are those yellow clouds with hints of blue sky? Overall a muddy look. -Annie Elliott
The Red Bulls’ new kit kind of looks dirty like someone didn’t do the laundry well. Not a fan. -Sarah Kallassy
For a team with such an obvious brand to use as a crutch, I’m so disappointed in this kit. It combines sweat stains, mayonnaise stains, mustard stains… it combines a lot of stains into one single kit. It’s actually impressive how much this jersey misses the mark. I feel dirty just looking at it. Ship it to the next Mad Max film set. -Kerry Hess
About the Rest
We decided to bring you only the top and bottom of the list for a few reasons. First, dear reader, we respect you and your time.
But also, while the shirts are generally well above the level we’ve seen in MLS, a lot just aren’t particularly memorable. And if your team’s shirt isn’t on this list, that’s probably why. We aren’t saying it’s worse to be boring than bad, but, like…
Of course, there are some exceptions that bear noting.
A few shirts prompted polarized views among our voters, with some panelists loving them even as others were repulsed. This is better than sparking indifference, so to Atlanta United, Austin FC, Nashville SC, and the Chicago Fire, way to make us feel something!
Finally: Montreal! What are you doing?? L’Ancien Impact postponed the release of their new shirt, reportedly due to last-minute revisions to some indigenous text that they had failed to clear with the indigenous peoples whose language they were using. By the time they’d done their due diligence, it was too late to fix whatever issues were there in time for the scheduled kit drop. So here we are.
Friends, we’ll leave you with this: If you’re going to incorporate references to somebody else’s culture in something you’re making, be extra double-plus sure you’re doing it in partnership with the people of that culture, from the very, very beginning. Postponing the release to get everything right was obviously the right call. But it should never have come to that.
Okay, fine. Twist my arm. You can have the full ranking since you made it this far.
|T-10||New England Revolution|
|19||San Jose Earthquakes|
|26||St. Louis City|
|28||Los Angeles FC|
Now it’s your turn: Take to the comments to let us know what you rate as the best and worst of this year’s shirts.