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Ranking the best kits in Sounders MLS history

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The Sounders have worn 13 different looks in their eight seasons.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Soccer is unique among American sports in the number of jerseys it pumps out. Something as simple as changing the width of a pant stripe is grounds for boycott in Major League Baseball or the National Football League, but in footy at least one new shirt is expected every season. Now that we've seen the latest kits in action, we're in a good place to compare them with the other looks the Sounders have sported in their seven MLS years. Knee-jerk reactions are no longer a factor.


Primary

2013

A person has many regrets in life. For some the worst may be an unrequited love, or a wish that they had done more with their youth.

I truly regret not buying 2013's Rave Green jersey.

With the subliminal Space Needle on the right side of the chest and the solid blue piece under each arm, this was the distillation of everything good that the previous two home kits tried to establish.

In a perfect world this would have had just a BIT more blue, but it's as good as any one of us could ask for.

2016

In perhaps the biggest departure from the original 2009 look, the 2016 look moved the Adidas stripes to under the arm in favor of all-blue sleeves. Accompanied by a blue City of Seattle jock tag, the look has been perhaps the most divisive of the green kits to date.

Some feel that the sleeves give it a vest-type look. I can't say I see that, though concerns about the long-sleeved iteration are valid.

2009

When the original Rave Green jersey debuted in 2008 with a "tifo" unveiling on the Hawks Nest, it was a big beautiful shock to the system. The team's colors and crest had already been unveiled, but nobody knew just yet how "green" the team would be.

It became so popular and iconic that it defined the team immediately. No significant changes to this look came until 2016 with the blue sleeves. I'm willing to put aside minor complaints like the white Adidas features and the way the blue from the sides meets at the neck. That this look has survived for seven years is a credit to the designer and the organization.

2015

The best and worst things that can be said about this iteration is that it was unremarkable. An all-green kit broken up only by rings around the sleeves and waist, and a newly-blue Adidas logo on the chest, there was very little going on save for easy-to-miss pinstripes.

2011

In 2011 Adidas had one of their new gimmicky jersey technology ideas to push on all the new kits, and this year they had "tech-fit." For some reason, a series of silly stripes along the front and back of the upper chest were supposed to improve performance by XX%. Who knows, maybe that worked. Other MLS teams got the stripes too. Difference was, theirs blended in with the rest of the jersey. The Sounders instead got silver.

Without the silly silver Sounders swoops, these kits would have been a clear improvement over the previous year's baggy, templated looks. In the end though, this jersey was defined by a single feature.

Secondary

2009 (Blue)

Look at this jersey. Just sit for a moment, and look at it. It is beautiful. That color blue just works. The green accents stand out and accentuate the rest of the kit. @ any Sounders employees reading this, I IMPLORE you to bring this look back next season. We all love the blacks, but this jersey is SEATTLE. It belongs in the rotation.

Do the right thing.

2013 (Shale)

It's important to note here that we're judging the on-field "authentic" jerseys rather than the cheaper "replica" versions. The on-field version of this Cascade Shale jersey had a beautiful interlacing Blue and Green stripe set on a dark grey background. The "replica" instead had a kind of ugly green cross stich. It was probably also the best long-sleeve jersey of the bunch, with the green Adidas stripes providing visual conformity with the chest stripe.

2015 (White)

Setting aside for a moment the deplorable record the Sounders sport when wearing these simple shirts, the Olympic Whites aren't bad jerseys. I mean, white jerseys are basically always the same plain boring thing on every team that wears them, and that's true here too. For people who like to wear sports shirts to work or out on the town though, many have said that the whites are the best to date (probably because it doesn't clash with anything.) The pinstripes from the 2015 homes are here too, though again they aren't terribly noticeable. And as slimming as they may be on the everyman, I doubt that many will mourn their loss when they're replaced for 2017.

2011 (Shale)

This would have been a really nice jersey. In Seattle's first taste of the green-on-black look, the first Cascade Shale kit was nearly a home run in the same vein as the future Pitch Black. It's a plain dark jersey with Rave Green highlights. These are the ingredients for making the perfect alternate kit. But the professor accidentally added an extra ingredient: Silver Stripes. Thus this utterly disappointing jersey was born, unable to look good in a casual setting or fight crime or even win an Open Cup match.

Alternate

2014

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but based on anecdotal evidence I believe that this is the best-selling non-green jersey in Sounders FC history.

There's not much to it; it's mostly just a plain black shirt with little bits of green in the typical spaces. For whatever reason, the whole package comes together to deliver something understated yet aesthetically pleasing. Maybe someone in the comments can describe better what makes this work.

2016

Refreshing like an ocean breeze, the best parts of the Pacific Blue jersey require a close look to appreciate. Blue on Blue is the order of the year, with all features but the XBOX logo showing up in an eye-catching aqua. The face of the shirt, appearing textured from a distance, actually has a repeating "S" motif throughout. The burn-in stencil of the crest returns from the "Super Cyan," accompanied by the "Chief Sealth" jock tag.

2012

It's not a Sounders blue, but the "second color" returned to action in 2012 with this Cyan kit. The stencil version of the crest returned, though this time it was filled in with yellow (giving it a more layered appearance.) This jersey had the most side piping of any the Sounders have worn, something I'd like to see hit the home kits one of these years.

2010

This particular look hasn't aged well, mostly because it features analogues to the colors of a team we don't root for. I don't doubt that it was a great decision at the time (pretty sure it sold gangbusters) but the dayglow yellow continues to bring to mind a construction site more than a soccer match. Maybe we were more accepting back when the "third kit" was a novel concept for many. The best part of this look was the two Open Cups the Sounders won while sporting it.