Away from the field, players are free to express themselves through their fashion and style choices as they see fit. But on it their options are a bit more limited. Wearing their team-issued uniforms, some players search for ways to make it their own.
Xavier Arreaga, with his tucked-in jersey, is probably the most notable player on the current Sounders roster for how he chooses to style his uniform. His is a look that nearly approximates a Rave Green jumpsuit with the jersey tucked into his shorts and his socks pulled up over his knees. Somehow he manages to look like both a 7-year-old kid dressed for his soccer team’s picture day and your dad dressed for a day at the beach — he’s just missing the sandals with his socks to complete that look. Listen, he’s a big man, and he’s got enough talent to wear what he wants, but I’ll register myself as not being a fan of his particular on-field style, especially considering that the cut of the jerseys currently in production by Adidas are designed specifically to be worn untucked.
The team’s uniforms don’t leave a ton of room for personalization, but the socks are one of the few things where a player has some options. While most of the team seems to like their socks the same way —coming right up to their knees — there are some exceptions. Arreaga isn’t the only Sounder who likes to have his knees covered, as Raúl Ruidíaz and Stefan Frei both pull their socks all the way up. For Ruidíaz it seems like the socks are primarily a matter of personal preference/style, while Frei may find it to be a necessity given the amount of diving required of his position.
Jordan Morris seems to go the opposite direction with his socks, not quite reaching Jack Grealish levels of tiny socks and shin guards, but still preferring to wear his socks shorter than most of his teammates. With socks that tend to give a little bit of breathing room to the tops of his shins, Morris opts for the shinguard equivalent of kicker or QB pads, hardly even being big enough to see them through his socks.
With the most recent round of jersey-design announcements, it was made known that one of the last bastions of player choice had been taken away. Going forward, the league would not feature long-sleeved jerseys. Not for players, not for fans, and with that announcement, somewhere in Germany, Christian Tiffert wept.
For the boot spotters in the audience, it’s not much of a surprise that the vast majority of the team is rocking one of the standard offerings from either Adidas or Nike. They’re the two biggest brands, and although they do occasionally put out some limited edition or special release stuff, most of the guys are wearing cleats that any of us could get our hands on — although they’re wearing the top-of-the-line versions. Not everyone on the team reps the Big Two, though. The exceptions all happen to be defensively-minded players, coincidentally, as Kim Kee-hee puts on a pair of Mizuno cleats come game-time, and Nouhou is a proud Under Armour athlete. Jordy Delem is another player getting his cleats from outside of the mainstream providers, sporting an offering from an Australian brand called Concave. Their footwear is designed to allegedly increase kicking power by making the “sweet spot” of the boot larger, so if you want to hit the ball 8-15% harder* maybe check them out.
While the opportunities for individuality may be limited when it comes to the uniforms, it’s definitely fun to see where players find or make them. With so few examples here, we’ll all just be glad that guys like Nico Lodeiro and Víctor Rodríguez choose to express themselves through their play when they’re on the field rather than through their uniforms.
*This is an unattributed claim from their Wikipedia page.