Look good, play good.
It’s a mantra that can be heard by players across all leagues and sports, and that includes the USL Championship. With the arrival of some striking new looks to the league this season, we asked USL Video Editor & Motion Graphic Designer and resident fashion expert Gus Rachels – he’s the one who made that sweet curtain-raising video you saw before the season kicked off – to give us his assessment of the best new uniforms gracing the Championship this season.
This week we’re going to focus on the new home uniforms, and make sure to check back next week for the road uniform rankings.
Gus Rachels: Truthfully, this spot could go to any of the other teams that have adopted this new Adidas template (Tulsa, Reno, Fresno). But, at no fault of the other three teams, New York gets the nod here simply because the edgy, two-tone stripes stand out more in red than they do in blue, leaving Red Bulls II to get the most out of this design
GR: Birmingham’s inaugural kit has an effortless elegance that matches that of their crest. Using the sparks from the crest on the kit is one thing, but the asymmetrical placement is what really sells them and makes this kit interesting. The only thing keeping this kit from being higher in the rankings is the clash in color with the sponsor logo and the jersey itself.
GR: Using all three of their colors in their new kit is an adventurous departure from their previous all-green top. The white sleeves together with blue and green hoops completes a lively design that works together well and should give Saint Louis fans a greater feeling of pride to watch and wear than last year’s look.
GR: The gradient-of-stripes is something you see in kits from time to time, but normally pushed to the bottom of the jersey. Hartford has left it in the middle, making the change from green to blue the focus of their kit rather than a detail. This modern, eye-grabbing design sets Hartford’s on-field look on the right foot.
GR: True to their name, Austin’s inaugural home kits are the most adventurous of the expansion clubs’ - not afraid of using all their colors, the sharp contrast of the teal-and-black fading stripes and the yellow cuffs on the sleeves gives you a lot to look at, but the colors are balanced properly and are attention-grabbing without being overpowering. The star on the collar is also a very nice touch.
GR: Phoenix has done a great job of making a kit that stands out both up close and from a distance. The black sleeves are overdue and should be a mainstay of Phoenix kits to come, and the subtle diamond striping on the left side is a perfect touch to give the kit extra flavor without cluttering it up.
GR: Sacramento’s modernized reimagining of their most iconic look is executed to perfection here. The reversal from their original sash from dark-on-light to light-on-dark is an improvement, and the addition of the offset thin stripes gives the sash a sense of motion and breaks open the space between the sash and the base color of the kit. Not only did they bring back their best look, they made it even better.
GR: Not only is New Mexico’s kit improved by its front sponsor, the sponsor is the star of the show. The unapologetically bright neon Meow Wolf logo complements the bright yellow of New Mexico’s branding, and the simplicity of the kit’s design allows the vibrancy of the sponsor logo to shine.
GR: Where many kits’ merits come from their subtleties, this jersey uses large blocks of color in all the right places to make itself stand out. The polo-style collar ties together with the all-white sides to show that not all your thought has to go into the front of the kit. The checkers on the sleeve are the cherry on top of this kit’s bold simplicity.
GR: Bringing elements from a team’s logo into the kit itself is a risky move that pays off in a big way here. Blown up large, the “cow catcher” mark abstracts to resemble a marriage of elements (stripes and chevrons) that are found on many other kits, and those elements work together perfectly here to make a unique top that fits El Paso’s brand. El Paso has created an instantly iconic look with this top.