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MLS has way too many white jerseys

Nearly every one of MLS's 22 teams has a white primary or secondary jersey. Let's start mixing things up.

As the calendar begins to flip to 2017, we look forward to the impending beginning of MLS preseason, training camps in Florida and making plans for the first couple matches of the year. There is one thing that most people always look forward to during the preseason, and that is the release of the new 2017 jerseys. While we will separate the discussion of why MLS doesn’t like money by introducing these jerseys before the holidays (seriously, my parents would never have to think about what to get me for Christmas), let’s dive into the actual color schemes of the various jerseys each team will wear. One thing you immediately notice when thinking of the primary and secondary jerseys is that many teams love to wear white either at home or on the road. 15 of the 22 teams (including Atlanta United and Minnesota United) have a white primary, secondary or 3rd jersey that they wear. That number will move to at least 16 if the rumored Atlanta secondary jersey is true.

Of course, there’s history behind teams carrying a white jersey to wear at home or on the road in American sports. The rationale behind it initially was so people with black & white televisions were able to identify the teams – one team wore a white jersey and the other wore a jersey with their team colors. In soccer, however, a white jersey is never viewed as necessary, as teams employ not just team colors for their secondary jerseys, but also colors that may have special meaning or no meaning at all. It’s time for MLS teams to think this way and get away from their dependence on having a white jersey just for the sake of having something to wear on the road.

Here are the 15 teams that wear white either at home or away:

White Primary Jersey: LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps, New York Red Bulls

White Secondary Jersey: Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union, D.C. United, Orlando City, Sporting Kansas City (3rd jersey), San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle, Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas (white/blue hoops), Chicago Fire, Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew SC

With so many teams employing a white jersey either at home or the road, it makes it so every match looks the same. It limits creativity and makes the aesthetics of MLS matches appear like every other sporting match we watch on television or live. Let’s review what the MLS teams currently possess for primary, secondary and 3rd jerseys:

Eastern Conference

Team Current Primary Current Secondary
Team Current Primary Current Secondary
Chicago Fire Red/blue White
Columbus Crew Black White/Yellow
D.C. United Black White/Red
Montreal Impact Blue/Black vertical stripes White
New England Revolution Navy Red/Green
New York City FC Light Blue Navy/Orange
New York Red Bulls White/Red Navy/Yellow
Orlando City Purple White/Purple
Philadelphia Union Navy White
Toronto FC Red White/Blue
Atlanta United Red/Black vertical stripes Unknown

Western Conference

Team Current Primary Current Secondary
Team Current Primary Current Secondary
Colorado Rapids Maroon/White Yellow/blue
FC Dallas Red w/White pinstripe hoops White/Blue hoops
Houston Dynamo Orange Black
LA Galaxy White/Navy-Yellow diagonal sash Navy
Portland Timbers Green/white Red/black
Real Salt Lake Red White
Seattle Sounders Rave Green/Blue White (Dark Blue/Cyan 3rd)
San Jose Earthquakes Blue/Black White/Red
Sporting Kansas City Light Blue Navy (White/Silver 3rd)
Vancouver Whitecaps White/Light Blue Navy
Minnesota United Unknown Unknown

That’s a lot of opportunity for creativity lost in teams restricting themselves to these Adidas templates with just one color. This is also how jerseys end up looking the same and how casual fans turn on a game and have to sit there for ten minutes before they can figure out who is playing and where. MLS has plenty of room to use other colors on the spectrum to stretch the imagination and create some different traditions with their secondary jerseys. Here’s an idea of what colors MLS teams could have in an ideal world that will limit the number of white jerseys and create some team identities not just with primary jerseys but also with their secondary jerseys:

Ideal Eastern Conference

Team Primary Secondary
Team Primary Secondary
Chicago Red Light Blue OR Navy
Columbus Yellow Black
DC Black Red
Montreal Blue/Black vertical stripes Silver
New England Navy Red or Green
NYC Light Blue Navy or Orange
Red Bull Red Navy or Yellow
Orlando Purple Gold
Philadelphia Navy Light Blue/Gold
Toronto Red Charcoal
Atlanta Red/Black vertical stripes Gold

Ideal Western Conference

Team Primary Secondary
Team Primary Secondary
Colorado Maroon Light Blue OR Yellow
Dallas Red/White hoops Blue
Houston Orange Black
LA White/Navy-Yellow sash Navy OR Green/Yellow
Portland Green Red
RSL Red Yellow OR Blue
Seattle Rave Green Blue OR Dark Gray
San Jose Blue/Black Red
SKC Light Blue argyle Navy argyle
Vancouver White Navy
Minnesota Gray Light Blue OR Purple

As you can see, there are two teams that I think should keep a white primary jersey: the Vancouver Whitecaps (because duh, the color is in their name and it makes sense) and the LA Galaxy (begrudgingly, they have created an identity with their current primary jersey of white with the yellow and navy diagonal sash). The third team who currently wears a white primary jersey is the New York Red Bulls. They are the Red Bulls, and in a league that continually asks the question of whether New York is red or blue, it’s stupid that the Red Bulls insist on saying New York is red while walking out onto the field in predominantly white jerseys. Go back to red primary jerseys, Red Bulls. Even better, call yourselves something else and create a new identity with a different color scheme.

Hey, there are also a couple more expansion teams coming in. We already know about LAFC, and for sake of argument (and while I laugh heartily), we will also include Miami since they are supposed to be the 24th team in the league. These teams also have a chance to introduce some new color schemes that will stand out in the league:


Team Primary Secondary
Team Primary Secondary
LAFC Gold Black
Miami Pink Teal

In this ideal world, none of the teams in the league would employ a white secondary jersey. The team that would be closest would be the Montreal Impact, who would have a silver secondary jersey. There are two teams that I would allow to have a white 3rd jersey: the Chicago Fire and our beloved D.C. United. However, the only way this would be allowed is if the 3rd jerseys are based on the Chicago and D.C. city flags.

There are so many other colors that you really don’t see in MLS that would make for an eclectic mix of jersey traditions: aqua, brown, bronze, pink, teal, lavender, lime green, and so many other Crayola colors. Also, designs like checkerboard, half & half, Monaco-style, chevrons, and vertical sashes would make teams look different and fans can latch onto their club’s jersey identity. Either way, the release of the new MLS jerseys is one of the most anticipated moments of the year for diehard supporters. We realize that these jersey decisions happen sometimes years in advance, but maybe Adidas will listen and over the next year or two we can wean off the league's tendency to settle for predominantly white secondary jerseys.