Design is, for better or worse, something that everyone has opinions about. While you can usually point to "good" and "bad" design there’s no accounting for taste; some people like subtle, refined design while others prefer bold and aggressive work, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve always felt the worst design is the kind that’s boring and inoffensive, and that’s unfortunately where the look of US Soccer seems to reside.
Soccer kits generally inspire violent reaction from a team’s fans and this World Cup will be no different. Designers will go with classic looks in some instances and take bold chances in others, and either way you’ll have a segment of unhappy supporters. In the case of US Soccer the desired reaction seems to be one of indifference.
The USMNT 2014 World Cup home jersey was revealed last Monday morning and the soccer public seemed generally unimpressed. While I imagine there’s some hidden tech in the jersey that we aren’t aware of, to most it looks like Nike has given us a Dri-Fit polo with the oft maligned US Soccer logo on it. It’s hardly anything that looks uniquely American, unless our definition of uniquely American is an accountant on casual Friday.
Our country has a rich and colorful history full of iconic imagery, from the Stars and Bars to the bald eagle to the Gadsen Flag, and at times our uniforms have integrated aspects of all of these. The red and white hoops of this past World Cup qualifying cycle weren’t exactly unique as a soccer jersey but did make the US readily identifiable on the field. The sash applied to the USA kit in the 2010 World Cup divided critics but had a nice historical nod to past American World Cup jerseys and gave the US squad a unique look.
Countries like Germany, Ireland, and Russia do a great job borrowing iconic imagery from their countries' history and integrating them into their kits and logos. Here in the States the US Olympic Hockey team borrowed a logo that looked quite similar to the US Soccer Centennial badge and used it on a nice, classic look for this past Winter Olympics.
Hopefully US Soccer will look to take cues from these other federations and start to brand US Soccer into a product that will look sharp on the field as well as, hopefully, help bring a distinctly American brand of soccer into the public eye with sales of jerseys and other items.
If they’re truly stumped, let’s let Nike have a shot at reworking the US Soccer badge and overall look. I don’t have any desire to go with fluorescent uniforms and shiny chrome shoes, but if Nike can make playing football at Oregon look cool imagine what they can do for the Yanks.