Thursday, April 3, 2014

US Soccer Jersey History

This is the (chronologically compiled) history of US Soccer jerseys (as best as I can figure out given the limited resources online).  Some are historical pictures, some are recently created throwbacks, some may even be just flat out wrong (- my apologies in advance).  The editions worn in a World Cup are noted.

1916 White
This seems to be a picture of an early US "All-America" team on a tour of Norway and Sweden in 1916.  It could be the trip in which US Soccer played its first international match, in Stockholm vs Sweden.  (We won 3-2.)  The US shield crest appears very large and centered on the chest.  The v-neck collar is clearly a darker color, as are the socks.  If this is the first official US jersey, I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5 for being first.



1930 White (World Cup)
This is a picture of the US team who participated in the first ever World Cup in 1930.  Just like the 1916 version, its a simple, white long-sleeve v-neck with a US flag themed shield centered on the chest.  The shield, having been reduced in size since 1916, is the founding father to our current crest, which showed up in 1995.  No matter what changes will occur to the crest in the future, I hope we never lose the shield look.  This shield has no letters on it, letting the stars and stripes do all the talking.  Unfortunately, without the shield, this jersey could pass for underwear.  2 out of 5.


1934 Blue (World Cup)
Who knows if this is actually the shade of blue we wore back in '34?  But I would have preferred a darker, navy blue.  The crest is also a little too wide and round for my tastes, as if it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a circle or not. 1.5 out of 5.


1950 Home (World Cup)
This design is the next evolutionary step to the '30s look and has become instant legend after the 1-0 upset of England..  They added USA letters to the improved shape of the crest and added the famous diagonal red stripe, of which they are continuing to base throwback variations to this day.  Retro throwback special release jerseys with sashes had been released 3 times, I believe, mostly to a rousing response, but none were the actual jersey that is worn for a 2 year cycle until the 2010/11 World Cup release.  4.5 out of 5.


1959 Home - Pan America Games
A Pan America USA crest was used for the 1959 Pan America Games, where the US won the bronze medal, only behind Argentina and Brazil.  Another addition was the strange lace-up collar, which is essentially a feminine look nowadays.  Lastly, the diagonal stripe turned into a 2 stripe design, which I actually prefer over the wide sash of the 2010 editions.  But it can't make up for the crest and lace.  1.5 out of 5. 


1974 Red
(Kyle Rote Jr.)
Worn in a 1974 game vs Mexico, it drops a crest and goes with awful USA lettering.  And without that awful lettering, this could pass as USSR.  A forgettable effort during the dark ages of US Soccer.  0.5 out of 5.


1979-81 Home
The white version of the standard Adidas template.  They lacked the foresight to go back to a shield, unfortunately.  1.5 out of 5.



1983 Team America (NASL)
(Dan Canter)
Apparently US Soccer joined the NASL that one season as a club team so they could have more training time together.  Not sure that they played any international games in this kit, but we'll include it here anyway.  Does this shirt remind anybody of anything?  Say a certain 2012 release?  Not a fan.  1.5 out of 5.


1984 Home
A very 80's look by Adidas.  Not horrible, not really memorable.  The USA "flag" font however looks ridiculous.  They would have been better off with solid letters or with our old crest/shield.  2 out of 5.


1984 Blue
I would much rather wear the blue than the red version.  2 out of 5.


1984 Red
This is starting to look more and more like a goalkeeper kit to me.  Not sure why there is an added patch below the lettering but a 4 year old could have designed it. 1.5 out of 5.


1988 Home
For our first successful WC qualifying campaign in 40 years, Adidas put out another classic clean look.  The only feature that sticks out is the blue stripe on top of the shoulder, slightly (American) football-ish.  Also, a new circular crest has appeared for the first time, definitely an upgrade.  A traditional US shield is actually enclosed inside the ring.  The crest looks better up close but it appears too busy from a distance.  3 out of 5.


1988 Away 
This actually has a very distinct V-shaped thread pattern (which almost makes it look like a soft blanket).  As opposed to the home, it loses the collar and opts for a V-neck.  Also, the crest is darkened for this away version and looks even busier, if that is possible.  Actually, it reminds me of a US military crest.  Overall, one of our more interesting looks.  3 out of 5.


1989 Home
(Paul Caligiuri)
One site lists this as the 1986 home.  Others says that it was the '90-91 edition.  Perhaps they wore it in the mid 80s and brought it back for '89 qualifiers.  Maybe they had different WC jerseys just for the '90 WC but also used this through '91.  Who knows?  What we know is that this is the design in which Caligiuri scored the "shot heard round the world" back in Nov 1989.  I'd give this simple look a 2.5 out of 5.


1988-? Away
(Mike Windischmann)
This away jersey seems to have been worn in games in '88 as well as possibly 1990-92.  (There are pictures of Wynalda wearing this shirt and his international career didn't start until the 90s.)  Like the white home version above, it is difficult to pin down when this edition came out.  However, you'll notice that the adidas logo is their famous trefoil, which they seems to have been replaced after the '90 WC for their new triangular logo.  Sure, the darker circular spots livens up the plain classic design a bit, but not for the better.  2 out of 5.


1990 Home (World Cup)
(Tab Ramos)
For our first World Cup in 40 years, this was a pretty poor effort.  To me, this doesn't say, "the USA is back!".  Its more like, "you ain't gonna remember us anyway."  The longer I look at it, the more I think it almost has a Native American Indian look.  1.5 out of 5.


1990 Away (World Cup)
While probably released for the '90 WC, the US wore its home whites for all 3 group matches.  Basically a reverse of the home look, Adidas made an emphasis of the over-the-shoulder stripe look from the '88 home which they would then continue in the 1992-94 edition.  I like it slightly better than the white, which isn't saying much.  1.6 out of 5.

 
1991 Blue
(Dominic Kinnear / Peter Vermes?)
This jersey was worn in the inaugural 1991 Gold Cup, won by the US in an upset.  It begins the triangular adidas logo, instead of the trefoil.  Also, Adidas becomes extremely aggressive with the 3 stripes for the next few years until they completely lost their minds for the '94 world cup.  This '91 edition has a white collar and the old crest, which sets it apart from the '92 edition.  2.5 out of 5.



1992-1994 Home
(Cobi Jones)
The new US crest is not much of a crest at all.  But we have continued the swooshing ball to this day on the current shield.  As for the blue and red stripes, it is memorable for ushering in the modern look in US jersey history.  But I can't shake the feeling that it looks like a girl's jersey.  2.5 out of 5.


1992-1994 Away
(Fernando Clavijo)
A slight variation to the '91 Gold Cup since these don't have the white collar.  Red shoulder stripes may have helped, but the white just looks obnoxious.  And the blue is still too light.  You would never guess that this was a US jersey.  1.5 out of 5.


1993 Third
(Brian Quinn)
It seems that Adidas tried balance out the jersey with 3 shoulder stripes on the both sides with this release.  More of a bad thing does not a good jersey make.  At first glance, I actually thought this was a France jersey.  2 out of 5.


1994-1995 Home (World Cup)
(Marcelo Balboa)
Yes, I get how the wavy red lines looks like our flag just like what they were trying to do with the white stars on a blue background in the home version.  But I just don't like vertical stripes on a jersey, especially wavy ones.  And for some reason, the sleeves were left white.  1 out of 5.


1994-1995 Away (World Cup)
(Alexi Lalas) 
One of the most memorable jerseys in US history.  Also one of the worst.  Who decided that a denim look would work on a soccer jersey?  And why unleash this thing during the first World Cup we ever hosted?  Alexi Lalas is probably the only one who can pull it off.  These two efforts probably led to the switchover to Nike.  1 out of 5.


1995-1998 Home
(Thomas Dooley)
Nike takes over US Soccer and starts with a solid effort.  I like the polo shirt look to it and the solid stripe across is a respectable look for any soccer jersey.  The US crest also appears here for the first time.  3.5 out of 5.


1995-1998 Away
(John Harkes)
Nike decided to go away from the lighter blue to the navy blue, you know, like the color we have on our flag.  3.5 out of 5.


1995-1998 Third
(Eric Wynalda)
Nike's first US soccer jersey looked much better in white and navy blue.  This light blue one just looks dull and very.... blah.  2 out of 5.


1996 Third White
I honestly had not seen this one before but it may have been used during the Gold Cup in '96.   The dark horizontal stripes, perhaps a predecessor to the '08 release, combined with the dark trim gives it a very sharp look.  I also like the red number font.  4 out of 5.


1996 Third Blue and Red









No idea if these are legit or not.  I literally have never come across a picture of any US player wearing any of the 3.  But the blue seems to be the exact inverse of the 1996 Third white version.  For some reason, I think the red jersey would look even better with a collar on it - polo style. 3.5 out of 5.


1998-2000 Home (World Cup)
(Brian McBride)
Nike keeps the stripe-across-the-chest-polo-shirt-look going.  It does looks a little like a tennis shirt but I like the classic feel overall.  One of my favorite designs.  4.5 out of 5. 


1998-2000 Away (World Cup)

(Claudio Reyna)
This is one of my favorite US jersey of all time.  I like the vibrancy of the red as well as the usage of white and blue.  It has to be paired with the blue shorts, however.  5 out of 5.


2000-2002 Home
(Earnie Stewart)
This design is simple and clean but in the end, it looks like a lazy effort.  Its basically a white t-shirt with blue trim.  Great, thanks.  Okay, so this t-shirt is still better than the 94 WC jerseys.  2 out of 5.


2000-2002 Away
(Landon Donovan)
Since it has color, it rates better than the home whites.  While red is a great jersey color and I loved the '98 edition, I still think our main away color should be navy blue.  Red has been the predominant color of just about all US enemies - the redcoats, the nazis, the communists, the devil, etc.  And if we do wear red, it has to be paired with blue shorts.  2.5 out of 5.


2002-2004 Home (World Cup)

(Brian McBride)
When these first came out, I was completely in love with the shirt.  Now I think I was just in love with the success of the team.  Some critics have said it just looks like a volleyball jersey, but I still do like the angular designs under the arms.  I also like the font used for the numbers.  3.5 out of 5.


2002-2004 Away (World Cup)
(John O'Brien)
The away edition loses the collar but preserves a cool athletic look to it.  Too bad we lost both games in the WC in which we wore it.  4 out of 5.


2003 Third
(Carlos Bocanegra)
The first 1950 throwback was released with a blue sash instead of the original red.  4.5 out of 5. 


2004-2006 Home
(Claudio Reyna)
Again, Nike goes to a simpler look during the non World Cup cycle.  This time, the front has a one piece framed design, which I grew to like a lot.  What I did not like so much was the dark patch on the back where the name is supposed to be.  I also did not like the circle around the number font, however.  I know its on the Nike soccer balls, but did it have to be on the jersey too?  3 out of 5.


2004-2006 Away
(Taylor Twellman)
Again, it is merely the reverse of the home jersey but somehow even more boring.  2 out of 5.


2004 Third
(McBride / Jonathan Spector)
This throwback to the 1950 shirt was not worn nearly enough.  They used the red stripe instead of '03s blue.  I prefer this crest to our current one as well.  The 3/4 sleeves keep this one from perfection.  4 out of 5. 


2006 Special (Don't Tread on Me)
(Eddie Lewis)
This "Don't Tread on Me" special release was worn just once in a warm-up game to the World Cup.  The look of it is beautiful, again with the rich red and a two toned sash.  I also prefer the collar.  The only downside to this jersey for buyers is that the version released to the public was made of a cheap polyster material, or something like that.  4.5 out of 5.


2006-2008 Home (World Cup)

(Clint Dempsey)
Nike's Dri-fit age begins here as well as their more fitted look for jerseys.  I do not mind the collar-less look of these because the two toned stripe down the left side is unique and instant classic.  The stripe extends down the shorts to the left sock.  Awesome.  The crest is nicely enlarged here and outlined with a gold trim.  Lastly, I also like the college font used for the numbers.  4.5 out of 5.


2006-2008 Away (World Cup)
(Damarcus Beasley)
Nike brought back the 96-98 away look for the 2006 world cup this time without a collar.  I liked how the home and away versions were completely different but I marked this one down for unoriginality.  3 out of 5. 


2007 Third
 
(Michael Bradley)
This jersey was memorable because of the hat trick that Donovan dropped on Ecuador.  The design seemed to come out of left field with no throwback theme or really any correlation to any other US shirt.  By itself, I don't think its so bad, but the shade of blue is not to my liking and the thin pinstripes seem out of place on the field.  2 out of 5.


2008-2010 Home
(Frankie Hejduk)
This off cycle jersey again goes for the plain look but this time has big light blue hoops.  While I'm not a big fans of the hoops, we did pull off the Spanish conquest in these.  3 out of 5.


2008-2010 Away
(Carlos Bocanegra)
For the first time, the US uses a color other than blue or red for the away jersey.  I'm not sure what color this is, anthracite?  I actually went months thinking that it was a dark blue but its actually probably closer to black?  Who knows?  Let's stick to the navy blue please. Other than that, this was just plain.  2 out of 5.


2010-12 Home (World Cup)
(Landon Donovan)
This is obviously another nod to the classic 1950s kit.  While I prefer the white tops to be paired with blue shorts, FIFA's rules don't always allow it, which is why Landon scored the Algeria goal in the all-whites.  The light gray sash seems to me to be an indecisive touch by Nike - on television, it is hardly noticeable at all.  Go big or go home.  It should have been the navy blue or perhaps two toned - red and blue.  Also, the sash should have been thinner and slightly more horizontal so that it doesn't run shoulder to hip - and therefore less pageant-like.  3.5 out of 5.


2010-12 Away (World Cup)
(Michael Bradley)
US wore the away blues for the first 2 matches of the WC.  As much as I did not really prefer the white sash, the entire look did grow on me, especially when Dempsey, Landon and Bradley scored giant goals in 'em.  It is essentially the reverse of the whites, except that the white sash is now very prominent.  Again, a red stripe inside or alongside the white would be an improvement.  I have yet to mention the strange stripe on the socks for all versions - it is horizontal across the shin but goes down behind the calf.  Just weird.  3 out of 5. 


2011 Third
(Brek Shea)
After a tremendous amount of fan interest, Nike released this extremely popular red kit, since US diehard fans (supporter sections) prefer to wear red at games.  In general I personally prefer the blue as the standard away color, but because Nike decided to use a blue sash instead of the beauty pageantish white sash, this one rates higher.  4 out of 5.


2012-14 Home
(Steve Cherundolo)
This may only be the 2nd time in US jersey history that our home jersey is not predominantly white (94 flag jersey being the other).  In addition to the red stripes, it still has a sash, though it's extremely muted and nearly invisible - "subtle tonal" sash, I think they call it.  The 'Where's Waldo?' jersey, might be what we end up calling this edition.  After finally seeing it on the field of play, it is my least favorite US jersey since Adidas' 94 World Cup shirts.  I get that the red stripe look is straight off our flag.  But it actually looks like a yuppie sailor outfit, the kind you'd wear if you were dressing up at Halloween.  And they didn't even have the conviction to run the stripes all the way around.  The back has a horrendously huge, white square box, presumably so that the number and name can be displayed inside.  The past 3 Nike off-World Cup ('00, '04, '08) home jerseys have been fairly plain.  They would have been better off sticking to that plan.  1 out of 5.



2012-14 Away
(Jozy Altidore)
Nike is going with the "sash" design for this off-WC 2 year cycle.  It's rumored that Nike may decide to keep the sash indefinitely as US' trademark look - I'm not entirely against the idea although I'll miss seeing the new ideas they come out with every 2 years.  For the blue away, they have changed the white pageant sash to a dark one - a marked improvement.  However, the sleeves are now white, giving the whole jersey the look of a vest - a marked regression.  The new tri-color collar reminds me of a ribbon, but I don't hate it.  Though we beat Italy in Italy in this jersey's debut, I'm giving it just a 3 out of 5.


 2013 Centennial Special
(Clint Dempsey)
This new jersey commemorates the 100th anniversary of US Soccer's existence (1913).  Just as the pre-1950s jerseys were, it is plain white, with the shield being the main attraction.  However, I wish they had the guts to use an enlarged shield and place it centered on the chest, just as it was 100 years ago.  The blue v-neck collar and thick arm cuffs are a nod to the first US jersey as well.  Yes, overall this throwback is clean, simple and elegant.  And yes, it is a necessary (and hopefully extended) relief from the horrific "where's Waldo" disaster.  But ultimately, the reality is that this jersey is nearly identical to the '00-'02 Home jersey, except with the throwback shield.  Furthermore, I personally prefer the shield to say 'USA' on it.  3 out of 5.


2014-16 Home (World Cup)
(Aron Johannsson)
After ditching the traditional home whites for the "where's waldo" horror show, Nike went back to what it began back in 1995 for every edition of our home jersey.  I actually love that our home jersey is white.  But I'm not too excited with this release.  At first glance, this looks like those travel polos that our team wears on the plane.  Or something Federer wears at Wimbledon.  I've got no problem with collars, but why are there buttons on a jersey?  However, the biggest mistake is the lack of imagination in a World Cup year.  Look at our last two WC home releases.  One had a vertical stripe '06, the other a (faint) diagonal stripe '10.  Like it or not, they were at least unique designs to the US.  This one is nearly identical to England's 2010 WC home.  Plain, white polo with buttons.  Ok, ok, up close, it has thin, gray pinstripes, but they're undetectable from a distance.  Bring back a red/blue two toned stripe somewhere.  Anywhere.  They call this a classic, I call it boring.  2 out of 5.


2014-16 Away (World Cup)
(Michael Bradley)
For the first time since the red kits of 1998 and 2000, the away jersey is not predominantly navy blue.  Technically, its mostly red on the front and completely red on the back.  In a Nike-crafted statement, Dempsey hails it as a "patriotic colorway".  Is this design unique as US jerseys go?  Absolutely.  Is it American?  No.  It looks like Russia invaded Nike HQ.  Not acceptable at all.  Adidas actually had us in a lighter shade of blue all the way up through the '94 WC (denims!?!) but when Nike took over in '95, they went to dark blue.  Besides, the barely-worn pinstripe third jersey of '07, this is the first time they've gone back to that lighter shade.  Nike, please go back to the blue from our flag.  As for the design itself, it reminds me of those generic shirts for kids sold at Target.  And just as the Where's Waldo stripes did, I think it looks way better on our women's team than on our men.  Just not masculine enough.  Well .... at least its not boring.  1.5 out of 5.

32 comments:

  1. Nice post! I have to say my favorite series was the world cup 2010 one. plus I loved the third red jerseys too. This years set will take me a while to get used to. While I am not a big fan of the away, I think the home is neat. Still, for the 2014 world cup I hope they stick to something like the 2010 versions, with improvements

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    1. Thanks. I'm hoping Nike gets these hoops out of their system by the 2014 release. Its possible that the "sash" may be the look Nike is trying to marry to US Soccer, so we can expect to see some new variation of the sash jersey again in Brazil.

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  2. Nice post it was amazing!

    I actually do like the new 2012 - 2014 Home jersey because it gives us an identity and Hopefully later one they make better versions of the hoop jersey.
    I think the home uniform looks weird because of the socks......
    the uniform would look better if they were to use navy blue socks.
    This is probably the beginning of a new type of jersey (hoops) Maybe this one isn't the best but maybe the next one might look better.
    I liked the plain old white jerseys but we need an identity and maybe this is it.
    First versions are always a disaster but Nike will learn.

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    1. Hey, thanks for your kind comment.

      It seems that our home jersey this cycle is definitely one of those love-it or hate-it editions. To each his own. Its not for me, although I do think our women's team makes it work well.

      I'd still guess that Nike/US's plan for US jersey identity will be the sash and not the hoops. And personally, I much prefer the white tops/blue shorts as our indefinite home look.

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  3. No problem!

    I have to agree there with you because it true....... the white jersey with the blue shorts fit us well and gives us somewhat of an identity.
    My favorite jersey has to be the 2006 home the one with the red/blue line running all the way down to the socks.
    Nike is always changing the looks of the uniform therefore we still don't have an identity.

    The 1994 home jersey would fit us well also but of course with nike details , the sleeves would look good blue , and it would certainly look better than the current one.
    But the thing is Paraguay already has that design and so does Chivas Guadalajara.

    The sash I like but I think its to plain simple and nike is not making me happy at the moment.

    By the way we just defeated Mexico at the Azteca!

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    1. I'm with you on the 2006 home - definitely one of my faves. I'd be fine if they took that vertical stripe and made that our sash. The two-toned red/blue sash would be infinitely better than the barely visible gray we had on our 2010 home.

      As much as I dislike the 2012 hoops, it will live forever in the images of our 1st Azteca conquest!

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  4. I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before

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    1. Oh my. That is very high praise. Thanks for your extremely kind comment. (And please don't ready any other post on the blog, haha.) Thanks again.

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  5. You should give more recognition to the 2004 third kit. Its the most accurate jersey Nike has made to honor the USA team that defeated England in 1950. I agree that the 2003 and 2006 third jerseys are nice but the 2004 third jersey takes the cake, I dont think it should be a 4 but a 4.5 or even 5.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. Good point, the 2004 3rd is definitely the most accurate to the 1950 kit. But I just can't get over the 3/4 sleeve, even if it is true to the '50. And since it was a retro release and didn't add anything new, I gave the original a 4.5 and the retro a 4. Then again, you can probably tell the ratings overall are not so objective. No sabermetrics were consulted in this endeavor. Haha. Thanks for reading.

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  6. Any suggestions for finding this for women's team?

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    1. Sorry, never seen it. If you go to the US women's page on wikipedia, you will get at least a basic idea of their jersey history.

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  7. Well I searched about this topic on Wikipedia they have comprehensive information about this topic but you also mention it nicely in your post the best part of your post is that you display jerseys with their years of use this idea is really awesome.

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  8. '12-'14 home hoops/stripes has become an instant classic for a reason. and Nike reports their most successful top (in terms of sales) to date; you only have to look at the stands.

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  9. My personal favorites are the Hoops from 2012 and the third kit of 2011.

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  10. The 2012/13 hoops are fantastic....try to find one online right now, impossible. I wish I had bought one earlier and only can hope Nike Re-issues. Also take a look at the USA supporters in the stands...the hoops are a HUGE favorite and a great way for us to show our support com e2104. Hoops will be the USA version of the Dutch orange...

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  11. The new home red hoops jersey should've been a 5 out of 5! Probably Nikes best selling USA jersey ever. Best design they have had in years.

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  12. The Hoops are a classic. You, my friend, are fooling yourself to believe otherwise... but then again, wouldn't expect much less from an NFL fan. sorry, but Football and American Football are pretty much mutually exclusive.

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  13. 1975 Red

    http://naslmemories.blogspot.com.br/search/label/1974

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    1. Much appreciated. Updated the post accordingly.

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  14. 1989? Home

    Is vire nice 5 out of 5.

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  15. so great article. like the 2003 third US soccer jersey most

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  16. Very nice post!!! Congratulations!I

    I love the 2012-2014 home jersey, I know a lot of people don't like it, but has something special for me.

    Thanks!

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  17. Hello,

    My favourite one is the Centennial special jersey, I wish they will use the same at the World Cup.

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  18. Funny how the template still remains, which says a lot about the nature of the sport, in my opinion: straight up, no frills, and tactical. Soccer is the type of sport that doesn't need blaring logos and jagged flourish, as it is directly a matter of getting to the ball and kicking it. Nothing more, nothing less, which I guess explains its economy.

    Jennine @ UE Sports

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  19. I couldn't agree more with you when I saw the new away jersey's. I thought I was looking at the Russian Jersey's. I think they'll stand out though, for being one of the ugliest jerseys in Brazil. It will be easy to look back and World Cup footage and know what World Cup these came from, just like you can look at the Denim Kit and instantly know what year pictures and/or video is from.

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    1. You're right in that its unique and instantly recognizable. I get the feeling that it'll be like the Where's Waldo jersey - some will love it, some will hate it. I'm trying to keep an open mind. We'll see how it looks vs Mexico tomorrow....

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  20. Great post.. I can't believe it was only one jersey that used the stars of our flag... we need a jersey that's more American, rather than appealing to soccer jersey fashion or modern sleekness...

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    1. Thanks for reading. I believe the one jersey using the stars are the 94 denims, which were not too successful. But it can be done - this year's US Olympic hockey team managed to incorporate stars in a classy and subtle manner. Also, the '94 red stripes and the recent '12 Where's Waldo jerseys also used our flag's design. Honestly, I don't like any of them. For me, the US soccer tradition to be passed on is the white top and blue shorts. Just not too plain - that's all I'm asking.

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