Summer international tournament season is here, and with the US Men’s National Team playing in the Gold Cup and the USWNT on the hunt for gold of their own at the Olympics there’s a new kit to keep both teams looking fresh on their respective stages. OL Reign fans will almost certainly get to see several players from their favorite club rock the new kit in Japan this summer, as recent additions have left the team with three US national team players likely headed to the Olympics - Alana Cook, Rose Lavelle and Megan Rapinoe all seem well poised for spots on the short roster. Cristian Roldan’s place in the USMNT picture is less clear, but there’s still a good chance that Seattle Sounders will have a chance to see a local hero pull on the stripes for the men’s team this Summer.
More stars. More stripes. Less waste.— Nike Football (@nikefootball) June 16, 2021
Inspired by a waving and made with at least 75% recycled polyester, this new away kit replicates the on-pitch energy of the iconic U.S. National Teams. pic.twitter.com/AWA7yyDpiT
According to Nike, who produce the kits for US Soccer, the kit’s distinctive pattern is inspired by the visual of a waving American flag. For most seeing the kit, the first connection is probably Manchester United’s black and white “zebra striped” kit rather than anything related to a flag. Regardless of the stated inspiration, both kits are clearly drawing from the same design well: dazzle camo. Dazzle camouflage isn’t new to soccer, and this certainly won’t be the last we see of it. There’s a desire for bold patterns, styles that grab your attention whether they’re on the field or on the street, and if there’s any chance of making a striker’s runs even a little bit harder to track then that’s absolutely a bonus.
The new kit continues a trend of US Soccer at least trying sh*t when it comes to their look. The US will probably never have a certified banger like Nigeria’s 2018 masterpiece, but at least they’re not putting the exciting talent coming up through the men’s and women’s teams in boring t-shirts.
For me, these kits are a better look than the Manchester United ones. The scale of the pattern is bigger and more consistent, making the overall result less busy looking. While some folks may take issue with the design — and I’ve seen plenty of responses that were less than positive — I think this is a cool take on the idea of the US wearing stripes. The lines not lining up may bother some people, but in my opinion the effect creates something of a combination of two of my favorite fashion design elements, stripes and color-blocking.
The only real gripe for me from a design perspective is that, while the pattern does continue onto the back, there’s a huge blank blue chunk there. This isn’t the same as the issue with lots of Adidas kits where the patterns or design are only on the front of the shirt, though, this is a more practical matter. Even with a strong contrasting color like white, player names and numbers would be incredibly difficult to read over the pattern. Enter the solid blue patch. It’s not ideal, but maybe that will serve as added incentive to rep your favorite player. As a nice little touch, this kit continues the use of the sort of lightning bolt stripe down the side of the shirt that was used on the current white kit.
The rosters for the Olympics and the Gold Cup haven’t been announced yet, but if you’re the planning ahead type you can get the women’s and men’s from Nike right now. The US Soccer store has player jerseys available, if that’s how you like to roll, including the USWNT kit in men’s cuts.