Within a four-day span (February 15-18), Major League Soccer officially released all of the new kits for the 2023 season. As we’ve been inundated with all the new shirts almost all at once, it’s only natural for MLS fans to compare their shirt to everyone else’s in the league. I think I speak for all soccer fans when I say that, in the absence of actual football (and the inability to watch preseason matches), these releases are what keep us going.
So with that in mind I decided to put pen to paper and rank all of the new shirts.
Here are a few things to consider as you read these rankings:
- Because the release of home and away shirts are staggered year-to-year, I’ll be comparing home kits to away kits. That can be an apples to oranges comparison in many cases. Home kits follow the same general schema; away kits are wild cards. I tried to adjust for that by not considering previous iterations of any shirt in my rankings.
- Montreal had major issues with their intended home shirt and, as of February 19, have not yet released their shirt. I’ll not include them in my rankings.
- I’ll use the words ‘shirt,’ ‘jersey,’ and ‘kit’ interchangeably.
- I will (do my best to) remove bias in my rankings. Yes, I hate FC Frisco and Houston Dynamo for obvious reasons. But I won’t allow that to sway my ranking (I think).
Ranking Criteria (in order of least important to most important):
- Shirt sponsors: Sponsors play a huge role in making the overall aesthetic of a jersey. Would you rather have a cool brand with an awesome font like ‘Yeti’ or an English muffin brand like ‘Thomas’ on your shirt? Exactly. Unfortunately, many of the shirt sponsors in MLS are already terrible, so this will not factor in much.
- Creativity: It’s important to be creative, but it’s also important that the shirt isn’t too creative for its own good. Some shirts hit the ‘creative’ mark. Others took a risk, and failed.
- Colors: Does the kit coordinate its colors well? Does the color of the shirt pop? Always a big risk if you use yellow, or purple, for example. You also can’t use too many colors. A shirt works well when 2-3 colors are used.
- Pitch Factor: How is this going to look when the players wear them during matches?
- Wearability: If I were a supporter of this club, would I want to wear this shirt on the streets?
Remember that this is all subjective, my friends!
Tier V: If relegation were a thing, they’d be playing in the USL next season.
29. St. Louis City SC (Primary)
I knew this jersey would be last place the second I saw it in November. Also, Purina is the shirt sponsor, LOL. Welcome to Major League Soccer, STL City!
28. Los Angeles FC
Black and Gold? More like Black and Mold, amirite?
27. New York City FC
It has some crocodile-tiling vibes going on. No thanks. Maybe they should have put an image of their stadium on the shirt (badum-tss).
26. Toronto FC
The colors just kill it for me. This is a great example of a kit that has too many colors on it. Couldn’t pay me to wear it.
Tier IV: You’d be unlucky not to get all three points against them.
25. FC Cincinnati
I don’t know how I feel about a river running through the middle of a football shirt. Actually, I do! I hate it.
24. St. Louis City SC (Secondary)
Good news: It’s not as bad as their home kit. Bad news: They could have made it white and it would have been sooo much better. Two L’s for their first season.
23. Real Salt Lake
22. FC Dallas
The design of both of these shirts is really clean, but it’s the yellow in RSL’s jersey that kills it for me. FC Dallas got the colors right; those flames are super cartoony and give it a goofy vibe (nice try, Dallas Burn).
Tier III: If things go their way, they could possibly, maybe, potentially sniff the Playoffs.
21. Columbus Crew
20. Houston Dynamo FC
Both of these remind me of my days teaching Geometry.
19. Philadelphia Union
18. New York Red Bulls
I want to like both of these shirts, and they definitely don’t go with something standard or boring. I just can’t rank them higher than anyone else.
17. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
This is mid (as the kids say), but the sponsor really ruins it for me. TELUS? I’ll stick to T-Mobile, Canada.
Tier II: Won’t win any trophies, but you’re not looking forward to playing them.
16. Atlanta United FC
A clean, classic look for The Five Stripes. Their sponsor has always killed it for me, though.
15. Colorado Rapids
I could do without the gold trim on the bottom and sides but the colors work really well and I love the collar.
14. D. C. United
Probably the most frustrating shirt of them all in that it has so much potential. If they had only made the cherry blossoms more pronounced it would be a certified winner.
13. Seattle Sounders FC
Everyone loves that this is a Bruce Lee tribute, but if we’re just speaking strictly about the shirt, I simply don’t think it’s better than anything else I ranked before it.
12. Charlotte FC
One more color would have ruined the entire thing, but for a purple jersey, this is pretty good. The crown accents are a nice touch, too.
11. Austin FC
There’s a lot more I should say about this, but it’s not boring and it looks great in person. Most people hate it. I don’t. I know the point is to have mismatched stripes, but they’re almost too mismatched, if that makes sense.
10. New England Revolution
I’m a sucker for a sash; the Revs took a page out of River Plate’s book, and it works!
9. Sporting Kansas City
It’s simple but not too simple. I like the hoops, but the collar really does it for me.
8. Minnesota United FC
I think this one is going to grow on people over time, but I will admit I wasn’t too crazy about the northern lights initially. They also have an excellent crest (the Loon) and the Target logo is one of the best-looking shirt sponsors in MLS. Would have scored higher if it wasn’t half white in the front.
Tier I: If they played in Europe, they could totally win the Danish Superliga.
7. Inter Miami FC
Super clean look. Two colors (well really three if you count the striped hoops), and it really pops. Well done, Miami Beckhams.
6. Orlando City SC
I honestly didn’t think that a purple shirt would work so well, but this is (a) really clean and (b) the wall blends in perfectly.
5. LA Galaxy
The colors pay homage to the city of Los Angeles (even though they don’t play there…). Galaxy really took a risk here, but this one paid off.
4. Chicago Fire
Remember what I said about 2-3 colors? Forget that, this is beautiful. I’m usually not a fan of the crest in the middle of the shirt, though this would have ranked higher if it had a sponsor. Like…do they plan to get a sponsor later? Cause there’s a big empty space for one.
3. Portland Timbers
Plaid? Sign me up. Captures the club’s essence really well.
2. San Jose Earthquakes
This is one of those shirts that gets better every time I look at it. I think it’s going to look absolutely incredible on the pitch.
1. Nashville SC
All black with gray accents. It’s clean, it’s going to look great on the field, and I would wear that every day. I thought this was the best kit even before I knew it was a nod to Johnny Cash. An instant classic.