Atlanta United is the latest MLS club to unveil an unforgettable third alternate jersey ahead of the 2023 season resuming, and it’s another that pushes the boundaries of what is possible for a kit in a professional soccer league.
The four kits share a common theme in that they all pay homage to each club’s native city and culture. The results are fantastically wild and varied, taking inspiration from diverse subject matter such as hip-hop culture, carnivals, street art and urban green spaces.
It’s fair to say that the designs on display are among some of the most eye-catching witnessed for quite some time — in MLS or anywhere else — and run the full gamut from jarring neon colors and graffiti to verdant graphics invoking the serenity of lush parkland.
All four kits are sure to split opinion among fans and neutrals alike. We’re sure that at least some of them will be making future rankings of the best and worst jerseys in MLS history.
Toronto FC made a big splash last month when it unveiled its third kit which serves as a tribute to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, held annually in the Canadian city for more than 50 years.
The jersey is a festival of colour with flashes of tropical blue, pink and yellow forming a graphic that resembles the spectacular feathered costumes synonymous with the infectious rhythm of the Caribana celebrations.
Unveiled earlier this month, the latest New York Red Bulls’ uniform marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop, when DJ Kool Herc threw a “Back-to-School Jam” at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx.
The jersey is plastered in an eye-catching all-over graffiti graphic that salutes all the MCs, DJs, artists, breakers and beatboxers who have collectively pioneered the scene from the early 1970s right through to present day.
NYCFC took an altogether calmer approach in heralding its home city last week by releasing a kit highlighting the vital role that parks play amid the Big Apple’s sprawling urban metropolis.
Like dappled foliage, a leafy print is used to highlight the nourishing role that New York’s various public spaces have played throughout the city’s long and often hectic history, from Central Park in Manhattan to Flushing Meadows out in Queens.
Taking its name from the Atlanta area code, the 404 is perhaps the most striking kit of the bunch thanks to an imposing graffiti graphic that covers the entire jersey.
The design is a tribute to the 1990s, a golden period for Atlanta in which the city was transformed into a hotbed of art, music and “Dirty South” hip-hop culture, propelled by the likes of Outkast, Goodie Mob and Arrested Development.
Later this week, the club will release a documentary about the city’s global impact in collaboration with Atlanta Influences Everything entitled “Inside the 404” with interviewees including Big Boi, Killer Mike and Shanti Das.