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What makes a jersey great?

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The staff discusses what they love, hate and find iconic among Sounders jerseys.

2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final - Chicago Fire v Seattle Sounders Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, it’s that the Seattle Sounders came out of the gates ready to make a statement with their jerseys. The Rave Green look definitely did that, and the Pacific Blue secondary shirts in the inaugural year were a nice companion piece. So let’s start there — how do you feel like those shirts have stood the test of time?

SEATTLE - AUGUST 08:  Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders FC heads the ball against the Houston Dynamo on August 8 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. The Sounders defeated the Dynamo 2-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The initial look.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Miki Turner: I go back and forth on the inaugural home jerseys. They go from dated to vintage for me depending on when I’m looking at them. They’re fairly well-designed, but they remind me of a MLS that doesn’t exist anymore.

Mark Kastner: For the most part, yes. The jerseys themselves are pretty good. I think the only thing cringe-worthy about them is the “XBOX 360 LIVE” across the front. But that’s just sort of the era we were in back then. They might have the best socks the Sounders have ever worn, though.

Tim Foss: They’re very much of the time, and maybe a little bit dated — the fit is kind of loose, the colors are bright, and the curving lines all feel like they could only have been devised in the mid-to-late aughts — but even if they’re not something that would be “cool” to wear today, they look good when you look back.

Andrew Beck: I don’t think the design of them is that dated; the way the XBOX logo was on them is probably the most dated part. The way XBOX was rendered from 2011 on seemed much better. For some reason the sponsor logo on the ‘09/10 shirts just seems wrong when looking back at them.

TF: I think even just in MLS if you look back at what most teams were wearing, the impression is, “Wow, I can’t believe that’s what the jerseys looked like,” but the Sounders’ jerseys looked good, and the color of the blue away jerseys was great.

Jeremiah Oshan: I think the entire package comes together as “iconic” and definitely served to set the tone for the look of the team, but taken by themselves I think they might be the ugliest shirt the Sounders have had when looked at as “street” wear ... if that makes sense. I still do like the blues, though.

Outside of his three-goal game against the Columbus Crew last year, Blaise Nkufo never quite lived up to the expectations of many Seattle Sounders fans. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Outside of his three-goal game against the Columbus Crew last year, Blaise Nkufo never quite lived up to the expectations of many Seattle Sounders fans. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

AB: If you take the XBOX logo off and I had never seen them, you could convince me they were this year’s training tops.

MT: I can’t say I’d pick up this jersey to wear if they came back.

MK: It is worth noting that 2009 and 2010 were awful years for jerseys all around the world. Except Spain’s national team. They can stay. Forever.

TF: The vibe of the ‘09/10 jerseys is weirdly more like a cycling top than a soccer jersey, looking back at them.

MK: At least we didn’t have to deal with these.

AB: I also think it’s worth mentioning that the 3rd kit that got introduced in 2010 has a good case for being the best one they ever had.

JO: So I’ve been going back and forth on this a bit, and I’m starting to think that in some ways, the truly iconic shirt from the Sounders is the Electricity kit they unveiled in 2010. It was them basically doubling down and leaning into their brashness, and unlike the Rave Green shirts I think they actually stand up as a shirt I’d like to own.

(*sadly, I don’t own one.)

AB: I regret to this day I never bought one.

MK: Really ahead of its time. It’s so good. It had a simpler XBOX logo, too.

TF: Oh, I hate the Electricity kit, but I really just generally am not a fan of bright yellow.

AB: I think they tried to capture the same idea with the Super Cyan, and watered it down just enough to ruin it.

MT: Electricity falls into the “doing too much” category for me, but I can appreciate taking the risk like that.

TF: I’m a much bigger fan of Super Cyan, aside from the weird collar without a closure.

mauro rosales super cyan

For me using the neon colors as an accent, like they did with the Pitch Black, the throwback collared jerseys, and Nightfall, works infinitely better.

JO: I do own the Super Cyan shirt and have long defended it as unfairly maligned, but ... I don’t think it worked as well as Electricity. I think that’s a shirt that could have really used a white or yellow short to go along with it.

TF: And it starts taking the jerseys into a space where they can be more of a street wear piece.

AB: I wanted a Nightfall kit with the colors swapped just to complete the highlighter pack.

MikeRussellFoto

MK: Hindsight is 2020 (pun intended).

JO: Oh man, pink shorts with the nightfall kit would have been so perfect...

MT: I’d have loved an actual gradient with Nightfall.

TF: Like the neon shorts with the pitch black.

JO: What do you think makes a great jersey? Is it how it looks on the field or how good it looks on the street? Both?

AB: The perfect jersey is one that looks great in both places, but that’s really hard to pull off. The worst jerseys are the ones that fail in both places cough ‘11/12 cough.

Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders - 2nd Leg Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

MK: I’m a very average looking person, if I’m being nice. I don’t really care how a jersey looks on me personally, and I also don’t love wearing sports gear in public outside of a sporting event. That said, I need a jersey to look great on actual players. But the most important aspect of a jersey to me is what actually happens on the field in that kit. I need a good memory or two for a jersey to cement its greatness.

JO: I think that’s also something that aids the Electricity kit. The Sounders won two U.S. Open Cups in that. I think it’s the only jersey they won two trophies in (editor’s note: They also won two trophies in the 2014 rave green kits.)

MT: I rarely wear jerseys out and about, so I lean towards how they look on the field. Players obviously by and large make them look better than your average fan, so maybe that skews my perspective.

MK: The reverse is true for me as well. Some objectively good jerseys have bad vibes because of bad things that have happened.

JO: Super Cyan probably falls into that category...

TF: I think the most important part is how it looks and what happens on the field while the team wears them — the cursed Olympic Whites are a low-key great jersey that might be one of the best looking as a fashion piece, but the curse makes it basically unlovable — but the ease with which a jersey can be worn off the field and worked into a wardrobe can elevate it beyond just being a jersey and into truly iconic status.

MK: The Space Needle silhouette kit, too. The one they wore in 2013. The end of that season still haunts me, but it’s a really really good jersey.

AB: I never liked the Olympic Whites, they just looked too much like a plain white t-shirt from a distance.

MT: 2013-2014 home: Perfection.

Sounders win Supporters’ Shield

JO: Ok, let’s talk about Olympic Whites. I’m in Andrew’s camp that they were irredeemably boring (even taking the curse out of it). Why are we wrong Tim?

AB: Of the primaries, I slightly prefer the ‘16/17 to the ‘13/14, but that probably has more to do with the way the replicas neutered the design.

MT: Olympic Whites were: 1) boring, 2) ill fitting, and 3) cursed obviously.

Photos: Sounders vs. Club Tijuana

TF: First, I’d argue that 90+% of jerseys look like a plain tee of whatever color they are from a distance, and the details that are only clear up close are what make the difference. The attempt to do a tonal pinstripe on the Olympic Whites and the 2015 home kit was something totally different from what anyone else was doing; it was subtle and simple enough that it actually can be worked into an outfit or a wardrobe.

The fit, in my opinion, might be looser than most soccer jerseys, but it’s not so much loose in the way that jerseys from, say, 10 years earlier were loose. It’s loose in a way that’s more boxy and is super trendy right now.

AB: I feel like the Olympic Whites and 2015 home kit may have been some of the most wearable shirts the team ever made. The subtlety works well in that regard, but it just got lost on the field and they became boring.

TF: Yeah, I guess that just doesn’t really bother me that much. If I’m watching a game on TV or in the stadium, I can’t make out the details most of the time anyway. The Space Needle jersey looks like it’s just Rave Green unless you see it pretty close up, straight on, and in the right light to make out the image, which basically only contrasts with the fabric of the jersey because of the texture.

Let’s close out with this one: Which is your favorite Sounders jersey?

MK: Pitch Black.

Sounders Third Kit: Pitch Black Photos

MT: As I previously mentioned ‘13/14 home jerseys are at the top of the list. Sleek, simple design and the faded Space Needle print was inspired. And they also fill the criteria of looking good on the field and off.

AB: I really want to say Electricity because I don’t own it and I remember how ridiculous it looked on bad CCL broadcasts (it felt like it was going to burn out my TV), but I think Pitch Black was the best one they ever made. It looked great on the field. It’s associated with a really great Sounders year. And it’s one of the few shirts that looks great on the players and was extremely wearable off the field.

TF: It’s hard for me to pick one, but I’ll take this opportunity to shout out the Pacific Blue jersey, the third jersey for ‘16/17. It’s not a perfect jersey — the fact that the sort of speckled blue didn’t continue to the back was a bit of a let-down — but it still works and looked great on and off the field, and the color-match gear that the team sold was all extremely cool. I still have a hat that they did in the speckled blue, and it’s one of the best pieces of team merch outside of the limited Adidas Original product line that I’ve ever owned.

JO: By far the jersey I most enjoy wearing is the Pitch Black one, it just fits me the best for whatever reason. I think I appreciate the design of the ‘13/14 Rave Green the most. But the jersey that I want to own and just like the best was the shale Racing Stripe kit they (almost never) wore in ‘13/14. I’ve not crunched the numbers, but I think it was probably worn less than any other jersey they’ve had, in part because it overlapped with the black one. Sigh.

TF: I loved that jersey, but it was also one of the ones where the drop-off from the authentic to the replica was most pronounced.

AB: I still feel like the ‘13/14 home and the Racing Stripe kits really suffered for how bad the replicas are. I still see more of the replicas from those years than the authentics, and the replicas are really bad.

Poll

What’s your favorite Sounders jersey?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Inaugural Rave Green
    (8 votes)
  • 8%
    Electricity
    (26 votes)
  • 12%
    Black Racing Stripe
    (41 votes)
  • 38%
    Pitch Black
    (126 votes)
  • 14%
    Space Needle Silhouette
    (46 votes)
  • 16%
    Pacific Blue
    (54 votes)
  • 7%
    Other
    (23 votes)
324 votes total Vote Now