A few months ago, I wrote a piece declaring the 11 Best MLS Kits of the Decade. What’s fun about writing these kinds of pieces is how everyone comes together to agree with you and applaud your great taste. That being said, with apologies to the recent expansion teams, I wanted to definitively declare the best kit of all-time for each team. A thing that everyone will agree on...
Atlanta United FC
The 2017 primary is one of the best MLS kits of all-time. Sure you may think I’m “wrong” or “blinded by bias” but come on, this is a stellar look for a team that desperately needed a distinguishable piece of branding after announcing a logo and name that lacked … anything interesting. The Five Stripes actually wearing Five Stripes is an easy choice.
Chicago Fire FC
Of all the “we are a red team wearing lots of red” kits in MLS, the Fire consistently have the best look, in my opinion. That being said, we’re going back to the beginning. And to a kit that isn’t red. Which makes me wonder why I even led with the thing about the red kits.
The 1998 away kit with hooped sleeves and socks is phenomenal. Something I noticed as I went through all the kits on this list is that having numbers on the front either made them look cool and throwback or goofy and old. There was no in-between.
This is an example of the front numbers coming off very very nicely. Throw in the lost art of having the team nickname on the front of the jersey and you have a kit that your friend buys off eBay to show that he knows the history of the team better than everyone else and wears it to every single game and asks, “Hey, what do you think?” while tugging at his shirt.
I’ve written about my love for the kit emulating the Colorado state flag before so this seemed like a relatively easy choice. Just to be sure, though, I went back through the Colorado Rapids kits of old and…
After a bunch of green and late 90’s aesthetic kits, they decided somewhere along the way to emulate English powerhouse [checks notes] Burnley? I get it, though, it’s an admittedly great look.
But I’ve got to stick with the flag kit. In particular the 2017 edition. It’s too Colorado and too unique of a look to dismiss.
Columbus Crew SC
The history of Crew kits is a mixed bag. Seriously, some of the worst kits … maybe ever, some plain yellow shirts and some truly excellent looks. If I’m picking from the excellent, though, I have to go with the 2017 primary. The checkerboard pattern is a distinctive touch that the sometimes overly plain kits needed. Plenty of people will argue for one of the more recent variations of black kits and I totally get it. They look great. But the yellow checkerboard is just a little more unique.
I’ll defer to Charles Boehm.
Remember what I said earlier about numbers on the front? Sometimes it just hits right. Well, the same goes for giant jumping electric fire horses.
The 1997 away kit feels like a crossover between a hockey sweater, soccer uniform and your dad’s old metal band T-shirt and I love it. FC Dallas fans named the giant electric horse Trogdor the Horse-inator (probably) and desperately want it back (probably). I say we need to work it into the next hoops design somehow. And I’m sure everyone will agree. Everyone.
It’s the 2018 secondary kit. The subtle nod to the incredible Astros uniforms of old is perfect. I was sad to see it go this year, but maybe someone will make my dreams come true and take a swing at an upgraded design the next go around.
First off, weird shoutout to the 1996 away kit which looks extremely not LA Galaxy but still works on some level? It’s kind of jarring to see Galaxy across the front of this thing honestly. I don’t know if it’s good, but it is interesting. I just wanted to share.
The 2003 away kit is the actual winner here. It’s the first year of the sash and it gets LAG closer to the classy look it has now. It’s like how [insert old band here] maybe weren’t actually that great compared to [similar newer band] but it’d be criminal to not acknowledge their clear influence.
Minnesota United FC
Uhhh...is it this year’s? Can I say that without being called a shill? The sky blue shoulder stripes are maybe the best looking of the new collection and the Loon wing silhouette is excellent. It’s this year’s and if that makes me a shill then you should go to the comments and sarcastically demand I get paid double for being such a company man and just really keep pushing that idea. Really, really push.
Montreal hasn’t changed up its look too much over the years in MLS. I’ll still pick a winner: the 2016 primary kit, worn by the likes of Didier Drogba in the Impact's best MLS season to date.
New England Revolution
What were y’all even doing in the 90’s? Why did everyone look at each other and say this was ok? Not just this, but all of it? You made Limp Bizkit happen. You did this. And you should have to live with it. You monsters.
The winner is the 2016 primary kit. It’s almost enough eye bleach to make things ok again. Almost. I’m gonna walk off the 1996 jersey real quick. Be right back.
New York City FC
The 2017 home kit is the winner here. It’s got enough orange to be distinct from NYCFC’s partner club but looks sharper than the most recent badge stripe kit. Let’s not talk some of the away kits, thanks.
New York Red Bulls
The 2017 home kit is my favorite of the Red Bulls’ kits, although there's an argument that the best in franchise history is the 1997 MetroStars home kit. The black stripes lost the white outline in the coming years and, in my opinion, the kits lost a bit of individuality. Clunky logo aside, these are excellent.
Orlando City SC
Full disclosure, I’m an Atlanta fan, so it’s hard to give props to our rivals to the south. But that 2016 away kit ...
I still adore the 2013 third kit. The nod to the 1911-1930 Bethlehem Steel FC teams is a phenomenal look. I don’t dislike Philly’s regular kits, but these connect on a different level. More historically based kits, please.
I named the 2019 primary the best of the decade. What authority did I have to do that? Well, someone let me post that opinion on MLSsoccer dot com. So. Must be right.
Look, Portland has probably my favorite kit set in the league. Throw out any year and you’re going to have at least one good to great Portland kit. People will scrap hard for the 2014 third kit or the 2015 primary kit but what’s important to remember is that they’re wrong. Because they didn’t post that opinion in an article on MLSsoccer dot com.
Real Salt Lake
The 2010 third kit. Ok so. Listen. I just. I know what you’re thinking but. I don’t know, y’all, I stared at these for like 30 minutes. Or maybe five hours. It’s all a blur. I’m not sure if they’re…”good,” but I’m fascinated by them. It’s the most interesting set RSL has put out at the very very least.
San Jose Earthquakes
Since I can’t put the incredible 1981 NASL San Jose Earthquakes kits worn by the likes of…...WAIT IS THAT GEORGE BEST? Wow. Actually learned something today. That’s disappointing.
Anyway, the classic blue and black really hasn’t changed all that much over the years. Let’s be individualistic here and all agree together, collectively that the 2016 away kit is really sharp.
None of that matters though because San Jose's best kit is inarguably the 1996 Clash kit.
Seattle Sounders FC
It’s the 2014 “Pitch Black” kits with neon green shorts and it’s not even close. I mean this in the nicest way when I say that it reminds me of when the lights go off at a bowling alley and everything starts glowing like it’s more radioactive than normal levels of bowling alley radioactivity. This aesthetic works for me.
You could maybe talk me into the 2016 primary kit. Maybe.
Sporting Kansas City
It is not in fact the 2013 argyle third kit, or the 2014 hoops secondary kit, but the 1996 home kit worn by Digital Takawira. Only the Digital Takawira one though. Seriously, still waiting on someone to sell me this jersey. Please sell me this jersey.
The 2016 secondary kit still works on every level. I know / folks don’t love that there’s blue in this one, but it looks excellent. It’s one of the most unique and clean combos in Toronto’s history.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
I stand by this strange brown third kit from 2012 and I refuse to step down from it. So what if every time I look at it, I confuse the Bell sponsor with Belk. So what if it looks like a shirt you could actually buy at a Belk. It stands out and I appreciate it despite the fact it’s called the “Arbutus Brown” kit and “Arbutus Brown” sounds like a 1950’s noir detective sidekick or a flower that makes you sick when you eat it.