Voices: Sam Jones

Jersey Week: Which team has the most MLS Cup-worthy kit?

Timbers LAFC jersey week

If you thought you were smart, you could try and predict the winner of MLS Cup by things like “statistics” and the “eye test” and “the better team.”

If you’re truly smart and know how dumb we all actually are when it comes to predicting MLS, then you know that every single selection criteria is just as viable as any other when it comes to making MLS Cup picks. Because all of them are equally wrong. You can’t predict MLS. You might as well go ahead and pick by something totally irrelevant to on-field performance – like which team has the better kits.

Welcome to the world’s most definitive Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoff predictions. In honor of Jersey Week, we’re selecting the 2022 MLS Cup winner based on each playoff team’s kit set.

Now, obviously, we don’t know the official playoff setup yet. But if your team is not included, that’s their fault for not being good enough before Jersey Week articles started production. They should have known better.

Jerseys are available for purchase on MLSstore.com.


(2) CF Montréal vs. (7) Inter Miami CF*

We are … not starting out of the gate hot in the East. The strongest kit in this collection is probably Montréal’s Secondaire kit. The marble design is interesting enough and the shirt as a whole looks a little less clunky than Inter Miami’s all-pink Heart Beat kit. The all-pink is great. The collar is…there are lots of folks who are anti-collar out there and I think I understand their point of view when the collar is the same color as the entire kit.

That being said, when you see the Heartbeat Kit, you instantly know that it’s an Inter Miami kit. It takes a little extra work to recognize each team with the rest of these kits. The Herons get the upset-minded nod.

Winner: Inter Miami

*The East's No. 7 seed is wide open, but we're going with Miami for now because, well, their jerseys are pink.

(3) New York Red Bulls vs. (6) Columbus Crew

Both of these teams have great color schemes and therefore kit sets that are hard to get wrong. New York’s all-red 1Ritmo kit with the checkboard pattern is outstanding and the home white 1Beat is what you expect from a Red Bulls home kit.

The Crew’s Gold Standard kit is fine on its own and particularly great when you consider that Columbus irresponsibly went away from having a gold kit entirely for a moment there. They’re truly at their best though when accompanied by black shorts. That might be the best Crew look ever.

But the Crew’s secondary kit doesn’t hit in nearly the same way. Advantage New York.

Winner: New York Red Bulls

(4) New York City FC vs. (5) Orlando City SC

Oh man, I nearly forgot about NYCFC’s Volt kit. They really went for it, huh? To be fair, so did Orlando with the Sunshine kit, but NYCFC really went for it. It’s hard not to reward that. But, if we’re being subjective, neither secondary kit is my favorite I’ve seen from these teams. Which means it comes down to what each team has done with two instantly recognizable home sets.

In this case, that’s an easy call. Remember what I said about the monochrome collar on the Inter Miami home kit? The same applies to Orlando’s Thick N Thin kit. Meanwhile, NYCFC went with the white retro-style trim for the collar and sleeves and absolutely nailed it. It’s probably their best offering to date.

Winner: NYCFC

NYCFC - Santi Rodriguez
NYCFC midfielder Santiago Rodriguez in the Volt kit. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

(2) Austin FC vs. (7) Portland Timbers

Austin FC’s primary kit is solid and possibly nostalgia-inspiring for folks in Atlanta, while the mint green Sentimiento kit is a totally acceptable secondary offering even if it is a bit straightforward.

Meanwhile, Portland’s primary kit fails the collar principle we’ve been talking about and just looks kind of disorienting with the multiple shades of green. Portland have had some of the best home kits in the league for years. In my view, it’s a big step down from their stellar 2019 primary. I guess they had to miss for me at some point though.

Anyway, none of that matters because Portland has the Heritage Rose kit and Austin doesn’t. It’s a rout.

Winner: Portland Timbers

(3) Minnesota United FC vs. (6) Real Salt Lake

For me and Minnesota, I only ever have one question: Do you have a light blue kit? If the answer is yes, then Minnesota have good kits. Thanks to the 2021 The River Kit, Minnesota have good kits.

But RSL have the Believe Kit as their primary. That would be enough to put them well ahead of the Loons, but the Supporters’ secondary kit is a step ahead of Minnesota’s more straightforward Night kit too.

Winner: RSL

(4) FC Dallas vs. (5) Nashville SC

Dallas get points for returning to hoops with their Crescendo kit, I just kind of wish they had gone with more traditional lines. The good news is, I don’t have any notes for their light blue Community kit. It looks fantastic, especially when paired with dark blue shorts. I would have added hoops, but I just really like hoops and Dallas should claim that identity as much as they can.

Meanwhile, Nashville’s are just a bit too direct for me. This is an easy call.

Winner: FC Dallas

FC Dallas Jesus Ferreira
FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira takes a shot in the club's iconic hoops shirt. (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

(1) Philadelphia Union vs. (4) NYCFC

It feels appropriate that the Union ended up as a one seed. Their fan-designed For U kit is one of the better primary kits in the league and maybe the best Union primary of all time. Their (also fan-designed) secondary BY|U kit is just one of the best kits in the league period. 

As much as I love NYCFC’s primary kit, the Union have the full package.

Winner: Philadelphia Union

(3) New York Red Bulls vs. (7) Inter Miami CF*

Did I mention I really like the all-red 1Ritmo kit? It feels like the Red Bulls are living up to their full potential with that one while Inter Miami are only tapping into theirs. There’s a world-changing all-pink kit locked away in there somewhere. Until then though…

Winner: New York Red Bulls

Caden Clark cele
Caden Clark celebrates scoring for the New York Red Bulls in their 1Ritmo kit. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

(1) LAFC vs. (4) FC Dallas

Once again, the one seed feels appropriate. The 2022 5-year Anniversary kit is one of my favorite of the season thanks to the art deco pattern and the well-executed center logo. The Heart of Gold Community kit isn’t perfect, but the “soft gold” (their words, not mine) color is at least interesting relative to plenty of other secondary kits and it looks sharp enough. 

It’s a tough pair to overcome. As good as the Community secondary kit is for Dallas, the Crescendo primary kit doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with LAFC’s primary.

Winner: LAFC

(6) Real Salt Lake vs. (7) Portland Timbers

If we’re going by primary kits, RSL are running away with it. If we’re going by secondary kits, Portland are running away with it and then some. The Heritage Rose kit is too much for RSL to overcome.

Winner: Portland Timbers


(1) Philadelphia Union vs. (3) New York Red Bulls

It’s not close, is it?

Winner: Philadelphia Union

Julian Carranza
Philadelphia Union forward Julian Carranza celebrates scoring in the BY|U kit. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

(1) LAFC vs. (7) Portland Timbers

This is very tough. Portland’s are objectively more interesting, but the execution on LAFC’s primary is so good that it almost makes up the ground the Black & Gold lose in the secondary kit battle. Almost. I’ll take interesting and slightly flawed over slightly simple and well done.

Winner: Portland Timbers


(1) Philadelphia Union vs. (7) Portland Timbers

To be honest, in a normal year the Timbers have the edge. Like I said though, this is maybe the weakest Portland primary in a while. The Union stuck the landing on their primary. The Timbers didn’t. And that makes the difference in this one. 

Go ahead and put all your money on Philly.

Winner: Philadelphia Union