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Match Fitness: Now everybody’s dressing

The 2021 season is off to a stylish start.

Sounders FC Digital

The last year+ has been, well... bad. I think we can all agree on that observation. There has been plenty to mourn and complain about, but one small thing that I’ve missed as I’ve been cooped up in my apartment and avoiding human contact with anyone other than my wife has been the excitement before every home game when the Seattle Sounders digital team drops a collection of pictures of players arriving at the stadium.

Even more than that, I’ve missed getting to write about the fashion and style on display, praising and reveling in the creativity and self-expression. The pandemic and associated protocols stole that from all of us. Some things are returning to a version of normalcy, though, and one of those things is the arrival pics. They feature a whole lot more masks than they used to, and with OL Reign (and the rest of the NWSL for that matter) getting in on the fun there’s going to be way fewer dudes!

Without further fanfare, let’s get into some of the best fits from the opening weeks of the season!

One of the highlights of the OL Reign offseason was the addition of Tziarra King. She’s a remarkably talented player, an incredible personality, and also a drip god deserving of the name King. We Stan anyone who pairs a denim skirt and a crop-top with a coach’s jacket/overshirt that matches their dye job. That’s one thing to watch throughout the season: King’s hair is great, with infinite potential for fun flourishes. I’d expect her to take her hair game up a notch now that she and Megan Rapinoe are in the same team and can share dye suggestions.

Above and beyond all that, King is one of a number of players on both teams who will make a statement with their style. These people are more than incredibly skilled athletes, they’re people with strongly held beliefs and opinions, and they’ll literally wear them on their sleeves (or whatever other part of an article of clothing lends itself to such messaging).

As summer looms ever closer, a good pair of sunglasses is going to become imperative. For guys like Cristian Roldan and Brad Smith, that’s an opportunity to elevate an otherwise mundane look with a magnificent pair. Roldan’s round-rimmed Ray-Bans give his look a cool 1930s futurist/steampunk vibe, and he’s not the only guy in the locker room with a pair of them. Jordan Morris made a habit of wearing a similar pair in the past.

Smith’s big aviators, with their brow bar and slight horn rim, suit his face and the rest of this look really well. The color and construction give them a slightly subdued vibe that helps to balance everything else going on with them, keeping them simple enough to work with any outfit he chooses. As T-shirts go, this one is just about perfect. A heavy-weight white tee lends a feeling of quality and construction to an otherwise plain look.

OL Reign / Jane Gershovich / JaneG.Photography

If Brad Smith’s minimalism is on one end of the spectrum, then Megan Rapinoe’s maximalism is on the other. Not only are the accessories a complete shift — in their quantity, but also the sheer audacity of them (no one rocks pearls in a mix like that) — but so is the rest of the look. Where Smith opted for a plain white tee with black accessories, Rapinoe clashes colors with the same flair she shows as she embarrasses defenders and former presidents alike. These purple Issey Miyake pants are a favorite of Rapinoe’s, and it’s honestly hard to blame her. They look cool as hell, from the color to the texture and the cropped fit.

The motorcycle jacket is badass and perfectly paired with a retro Harley Davidson shirt. The kicks are cool, but so is just about everything that comes out of the #SueCloset.

OL Reign / Jane Gershovich / JaneG.Photography

Jess Fishlock sits firmly between the two ends of that spectrum. This look is mostly understated combinations of black and grey with the single necklace draped over a T-shirt, but this mesh floral print shirt provides a healthy dose of fun and color. The real magic is in the way she’s layered the shirts, with the tee underneath being longer in the torso and the sleeve to create more contrast. The Adidas bag is great and seemingly could function as either a tote or a cross-body bag.

An added shout-out to who I think is Lauren Barnes, rocking a collection of gold chains and a cool oversized sweater. She looks like the most glamorous and casual person on a beach getaway, and I’m incredibly envious.

Sounders FC Digital

This column is primarily intended to focus on what I see as the best examples of fashion and style among the teams, but sometimes it’s also about recognizing people for doing the most. This look from Raúl Ruidíaz isn’t necessarily “good”, but it is, undeniably, a lot. It’s also quite a bit different from what we usually see Ruidíaz in. The shirt is sort of a tuxedo shirt, with a textured stripe along the center on either side of the placket and what appear to be tuxedo buttons. Rocking the shirt unbuttoned to this extent, especially with suspenders slung down around his waist, this look has some serious “headed to the wedding after-party” energy. The pants have a drawstring, for some reason, in addition to a button and zipper.

Look, this outfit is kind of confusing. He might be a groomsman at an incredibly sexy wedding, or maybe he’s a swashbuckling pirate who carries around a Louis Vuitton bag. Maybe he’s a Wild West gunslinger who’s been transported through time? I don’t know, and neither do you and honestly, that’s part of why we all love Ruidíaz.

Last month I wrote about what I thought of the Since ‘96 collection from MLS and Mitchell & Ness, but I honestly never expected to have the pleasure of seeing current Sounders players rocking up in those pieces. Spencer Richey took the responsibility to impress as a backup ’keeper seriously and put a little hometown spin on it with this classy look. Working the polo into an overall solid look that really let the colors pop was a great move. Not pictured here, but he rocked some super clean white sneakers and a little crop to his pants to keep the whole thing super fresh. A great first showing in his return to Seattle.

Meanwhile, Cristian Roldan makes his second appearance courtesy of his baller jacket. It looks as good on as I could have possibly imagined.

Lastly, I want to give some love to Cody Baker. The (currently) Sounders Academy player had his chops busted a little by Brian Schmetzer, but the fit is outstanding. Great suit, excellent tailoring, the no-tie look works great here, and the shoes are excellent. Just incredible work overall from such a young guy, I really look forward to seeing what he has to offer in the future.

It’s great to be back to doing the column that started it all for me. I hope you enjoyed it, as well! What was your favorite look from the season(s) so far?

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