Olympic White Doesn't Feel Right.
I don't know what it is. I can't put my finger on it. On the hanger, the Sounders' Olympic White kits are perfectly decent looking kits. However, since the very first time the team donned the whites, it just didn't feel right to me. Maybe it's because at least a dozen other teams in MLS do a version of a white jersey. Maybe it's because we never have, instead opting for rave green, pitch black (aka nuclear orca), dark blue, cascade shale, super cyan, sounder blue, and electricity yellow. White just feels...pedestrian. Feelings can change...a couple of big wins can form a positive mental association for even the ugliest of kits (like, in my opinion, the super cyans). Unfortunately, it seems to many Sounders supporters that Olympic White is synonymous with under-performance, bad luck and losing. The feeling has become pervasive enough that hash tags like #WhiteKitsOut have started to pop up in social media. Is this angst toward the Olympic Whites grounded in fact, or simply misplaced frustration after a long couple of months?
I watched a LOT of highlights of both the Sounders and S2. Here is what I found (using W-D-L notation):
Our winningest kit in 2015 is, beyond a doubt, Rave Green. This should surprise no one, as we've worn the rave for every MLS home game. We're 10-1-4 (W-D-L) at home (2.07 ppg). In order to fairly assess the Whites (and Blacks), we really have to look at away games only (for MLS regular season games).
The Sounders 2015 MLS Away Record by Kit (W-D-L):
Pitch Black: 2-0-0 (3.0 ppg)
Rave Green: 1-1-5 (.57 ppg)
Olympic White: 0-1-4 (.20 ppg)
When I break down our road games, the thing that jumps out first is that we have been a VERY BAD road team. Both expansion teams, the Union and the Rapids have done better than the Sounders on the road in 2015. Not good.
The two games in Pitch Black were two of the Sounders most complete and satisfying victories this season: A dominant 3-1 away win over NYCFC in Yankee Stadium and a convincing 2-0 victory at Vancouver that has the Sounders in good position to win back the Cascadia Cup. Two games is a very small sample size...but those two were very, very good wins.
The Rave Green have been the most frequently worn kits, both at home and on the road. The home results have been solid. However, the road results have not. been. good. In seven road games in the Rave, five losses and just one win. Ouch. How could it get worse?
Enter, Olympic White. Not only have the results been abysmal, they have been extra-painful as well. The four losses include some memorable matches - for all the wrong reasons. It started in Columbus. We've all heard the stunning stats regarding how good our record is when Oba and Clint are on the field together. In this game we had Oba, Clint, Ozzie, Marshall, Pappa...yet we lost 2-3. Columbus is a good team to be sure, but this was the first taste of Olympic White, and it was a loss. That was followed by a loss in Kansas City. It was a match in which a Sounders goal was wrongly disallowed by an incorrect offsides call on Lamar Neagle and then the game winner was scored on a PK awarded to SKC after Frei and Dwyer collided on a 50/50 ball. Both, in my opinion, terrible calls. How important do those 3 points feel right now? The next game in white was a 1-4 loss in Portland. That one speaks for itself. Then a 0-1 loss in Montreal on an 88th minute set piece. Ughh. Finally, in San Jose, the Sounders managed to pick up a single point - an important point - while wearing white. Thank you Oba.
So - it's simple - Pitch Black equals winning. Olympic White equals misfortune and misery. Right?
Not exactly. Well...maybe. While we did win yet another game in black - a CCL home game vs. Olimpia, we also wore black for a loss in Honduras. Perhaps more ominously, we wore Pitch Black for our USOC match - for the Red Card Wedding. Why do we not associate those uniforms with that game - the pinnacle of misfortune and self-inflicted wounds? Perhaps we have collectively blocked it out.
EDIT: Turns out that I blocked it out...and completely forgot that we actually CHANGED into the whites for the second half. Then Brad got a second yellow...then we scored short-handed...then Oba got hurt after we had used all our subs. We went to extra time with 9. Azira got a very, very questionable red from a very, very questionable ref. Then Dempsey lost his mind. All this stuff happened in white. Olympic White.
EDIT: And now, yet another calamity while wearing Olympic White - Roman Torres lost for the season with a torn ACL.
While the sample size for white is limited to this season, we wore black quite a bit last year. How did those results stack up?
The Sounders in 2014 by Competition and Kit (W-D-L):
MLS Regular Season Away Games:
Rave Green: 7-0-5 (1.75 ppg) + playoff away Draw @ Dallas
Pitch Black: 2-3-1 (1.5 ppg) + playoff away loss @ LA
Dark Blue: 1-0-0 (win against PSA Elite)
Pitch Black: 1-0-1 (beat SJ 4-1 in PKs)
Rave Green: 1-0-0 (USOC Championship vs. Union)
When I break down our road games in 2014, the thing that jumps out first is that we were a VERY GOOD road team. We had the best regular season MLS Record *and* we had the best MLS road record.
Pitch Black saw some great results. Two positive results in the USOC and 1.5 points per game. 1.5 ppg on the road would normally be pretty respectable - it's better than our overall ppg this year. However, in Rave on the road, we were ridiculously good. 1.75 ppg on the road last year in green is, at the moment, a better ppg than any team's overall ppg (including home games) in 2015.
Half of our USOC games were in Pitch Black - and we brought home the Cup.
I think at this point the sample size for Pitch Black is more than large enough. We look GOOD in black. Over two years and 8 away MLS games, we have only lost once and have averaged 1.88 ppg ... and those are ALL away games. Pitch Black is magic. #BlackMagic
Back to Olympic White ... we can look to S2 for a larger sample. When we do, we find that S2 actually has gotten BETTER results in white than in the Rave Green kits. S2, however, is a different team with a different crest playing on a different field. Pablo Rossi somehow looks right in white.
Is it silly to talk about uniforms as though they really matter? What we, the fans, think about a given kit does not change the way the teams plays. What the PLAYERS think about them matters a lot. Do they see the whites in the locker room and let a slight doubt creep into their mind? As the great Crash Davis once said, "If you believe you're playing well because you're getting laid, or because you're not getting laid, or because you wear women's underwear, then you are!"
It's almost impossible to know how the players feel. As supporters, we probably all have an opinion. I've laid out the facts. Conclusions will be subjective. I will now offer you my opinion. The Whitecaps wear white. The Sounders should not. #WhiteKitsOut #BlackMagic