Last Sunday, the Washington Spirit played their final match of the 2023 season, losing to the North Carolina Courage in heartbreaking fashion to be eliminated from the NWSL playoffs. However, the buzz of the pregame leading up to that match was the appearance of a new color at Audi Field: yellow.

The team had been playing in black and white this season, with Spirit owner Michele Kang indicating that the shift away from red, white, and navy to black and white signified a “blank canvas” from which they could chart a new path for the future of the team, highlighted by new colors and even a potential team rebrand. So, fans were intrigued when at the final match of the season, the team giveaway at the gate was a trucker hat that was black with yellow letters

Black, gold?

The hats weren’t the only things at the stadium that contained yellow. The team was also selling shirts and hoodies that contained the black and yellow color scheme, but the apparel also seemed to include a tint of gray in the letters.

Was it a soft launch of a new color scheme for the Washington Spirit? It sure felt like it to many. Even Michele Kang was in yellow and black for the final match of the season.

There were plenty of signs that had fans wondering if this was the soft launch of the future of the Washington Spirit’s branding, and when you think about it, even the iridescent badge on the jerseys had some of that yellow/orangeish gold contained in it.

So, if black and yellow really is the new color palette of the Washington Spirit, there are some pros and cons to going in that direction, both from an aesthetic perspective as well as having the new brand stand out in a more crowded NWSL and soccer scene. Here, we’re going to lay out some of those pros and cons and how it could affect this potential rebrand for the Spirit.

Pros of the Black & Yellow

We take a look at some of the positives to filling the Spirit’s blank canvas with black and yellow. First, when you look at the 12 teams that are currently in the NWSL and the 3 teams that are slated to enter the league in the next few seasons, only one team is expected to wear yellow: the Utah Royals, who have worn predominantly yellow jerseys in the past but also had a predominantly navy jersey that was paired with yellow shorts. The Washington Spirit could lean into the yellow and it still be pretty unique among the sea of blue and black jerseys in the league. It would also stand out among the red, white, and navy color scheme that dominates most of the jerseys of professional teams in DC.

Second, the yellow pops, especially over black backgrounds. It’s easily visible in the day, and it lights up at night. It can be instantly recognizable, and it can present some outstanding apparel ideas that will help build the new brand of the team.

Third, on the soccer field, black and yellow presents a Borussia Dortmund vibe, which can be a cool one with tons of possibilities. It can be traditional or zany, and it can also split the gap and provide a modern look while still feeling sleek or any other buzzwords that you want to use for a professional look.

Finally, keeping the black provides some synergy with D.C. United, the team whose Audi Field the Washington Spirit call home, while still giving them a distinct look.

Cons of the Black & Yellow

There are just as many negatives as there are positives for a black & yellow color scheme. First, black is everywhere, particularly in the NWSL. There are 4 teams besides the Washington Spirit that currently use predominantly black jerseys at home: NJ/NY Gotham FC, Angel City FC, the Portland Thorns, and the Chicago Red Stars. That’s also not counting the Orlando Pride and Racing Louisville FC, who have used black jerseys in the past. The new Boston NWSL franchise is expected to use black as a main color in addition to green and potentially yellow in their color scheme as well. It would make more sense for the team to abandon a color used by almost half of the league.

Normally, the “it looks too much like X team” argument is tired, but in this case, black and yellow is taken fully by an entire city. Almost all of Pittsburgh’s professional teams wear black and yellow to tie into their city flag, and DMV teams treat Pittsburgh teams as rivals.

Also, the Washington Commanders have an alternate jersey that is black and yellow. It is not advised to mimic the Washington Commanders in anything.

Here’s one that we don’t like to admit: we live in a swamp! During the summer, wearing black and yellow at home will be a problem because it’s 95-100 degrees every match. We don’t want our team at a disadvantage because they’re absorbing this unbearable DC heat every match in black and yellow jerseys.

Black and yellow presents some options, but in a league that appears to finally be dropping the requirement that teams have a white jersey, the fear is that black and yellow will tempt the Spirit to continue to use a white away jersey. Having a tertiary color that’s not white would help expand the range. of options and present opportunities for 3rd jerseys that can allow for creativity.

Finally, could black and yellow already be cursed? We entered Sunday in 4th place and ended it with the team below the playoff line and the season done. It’s probably unfair to blame that on the black and yellow, but it’s also fair to consider that color scheme to be, at the very least, bad karma.

So, where do you stand? Are you embracing black & yellow? If not, what color scheme would you like to see from the Washington Spirit? Here, we consider all ideas, so shout em out or you can’t say the team didn’t take your proposal into account! Either way, the offseason is upon us, and we hope the team announces soon what that new identity is going to be moving forward.

ByDonald Wine II

Donald Wine has been a soccer fan since he first kicked a ball as a kid. He moved to DC in 2007 and quickly joined the soccer scene, helping to establish the DC chapter of the American Outlaws and serving as one of the capos and drummers for over a decade. He is currently the manager of Stars & Stripes FC, but this community is where he got his start, and he continues to contribute to anything DC soccer related for this site because he enjoys it so much.

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Annie Elliott

Count me among the antis. Black and yellow has no discernable connection to Washington, DC, and I agree there is already too much black in the league.

Also, that black and yellow trucker hat legitimately got my friend confused for security at the game. Someone tried to show her their ticket.

Back to the drawing board please!

Bryan McEachern

Black is slimming. Hides my beer gut.


I like your thinking.


My take:

First, you want a uniform that allows for dark shorts. Never really occurred to me (being a guy) but the women’s push to be allowed to wear dark shorts. I’m not so sure the yellow works for that issue. And if you’re playing a team with black uniforms and you’ve got black shorts–not really ideal. I’m not totally against black and yellow (though it does conjure up images of the early Columbus Crew for me). But Annie’s point is the best one–absolutely no ties to DC culture or sports in any way. I’m not arguing that the Spirit should mimic the former “Redskins” or use colors just because another team uses them. But if you make a list of colors/designs/themes that are associated with either DC sports or DC teams, black and yellow ain’t on the list. Black and Red. Burgundy and gold. Red, white, and blue. Teal. But no black and yellow. There’s no connection to DC sports or even the city or surrounding area.

Second, Donald’s point about pink when it’s tied to in Cherry Blossoms works brilliantly. It’s a great theme that is DC-linked. It would be unique. It works for the shorts (if you have to wear a white top and contrast with a team wearing black). And if you just think of Washington culture and spirit, cherry blossoms absolutely fit in. This is part of the reason why the Portland Thorns (The “Rose City”–named after their famous Rose Test Garden) is such a good fit. Solid pink uniforms–I kind of “meh” about. But using cherry blossoms as accents or as a predominate feature–absolutely. It’s so DC.

Last edited 1 month ago by JoeW
Steve Comer

Nope. Save it for a Columbus or Pittsburg expansion team.


Agree, really disappointed. Wondering if Black and Red was under consideration? Wish there was more connection between the teams

[…] course of a rebrand. For the season they have been a clean slate of black & white. This week they appeared to gentle launch black and yellow, wanting a bit just like the Spirit Halloween shops that pop-up each October. Much like the San […]

[…] of a rebrand. For the season they’ve been a blank slate of black & white. This week they seemed to soft launch black and yellow, looking a bit like the Spirit Halloween stores that pop-up every October. Similar to the San Diego […]

Talonesque #

For me, it’s more about the intent behind the yellow and black. The first thing I thought when I saw the Spirit hats was that it evoked the early Hip Hop iconography and style. If Kang is trying to tap into the urban nature of DC and appeal to a new audience with this shift, I’m intrigued. Ultimately I think The Spirit should retain some element of their past, but again, depending on the intent of the rebrand, it could be worth it

[…] The pros and cons of the Washington Spirit in Black & Yellow: Donald looks at what this rebrand could be. […]

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