The kerflappery over the Galaxy third jersey announcement has failed to bring down Western civilization, at least as of today. But as fusterclucks go, it has been instructive as well as frustrating. And there's a larger (but not larger) issue here. In 2016, the Original Eight members of MLS 1.0 (plus San Jose, one assumes) will celebrate their 20th anniversary. Most of those teams, including San Jose, will have to decide how to address the fact that they dressed like idiots that first year.
DC United and Columbus have it the easiest, because in 1996, they proudly wore Perfectly Acceptable Uniforms, specially by the standards of the day. Adidas has taken abuse over the years for some of their MLShenanigans, but even if you don't think they created timeless masterpieces, at least they didn't completely crap the bed like Nike. Adidas can pretty much dust off the old templates, fire up the sweatshops, and the anniversary is good to go. Keep some spares for 2021 and the 25th anniversary.
New England has an out, too. As the other team besides Columbus who has not changed colors, name, or logo, they can simply focus on that continuity, and ignore their star-spangled crash-landing that year. It also doesn't hurt that very, very little about the 1996 team is worth celebrating in any but the most ironic sense. If the Revolution simply wear some navy blue, and fail to stock any jerseys in the team store, that will be true to the New England MLS experience.
Now that I think about it, San Jose doesn't have to face up to 1996 if it doesn't want to. I strongly suggest that Lew Wolff make a big celebration of 2014 as the 40th anniversary of San Jose pro soccer. The Clash can be a couple of highlight clips in the larger picture. Here's Paul Child, here's George Best; here's a nice long and long-delayed appreciation of the Blackhawks; hey, look, first MLS game ever! Moving right along, the Earthquakes returned in 1999.... They're still going to have to photoshop Landon Donovan out of every picture, but it beats spending long, agonizing reminiscences of the Calloway years. And when 2016 rolls around, how about a nice year long focus on the 1976 team that won the West! If they HAVE to talk about the Clash at all, roll out the cool black and cloudy jade numbers they had from 1997 to rebranding.
This is the alternative, guys. I'm not kidding when I'm saying there's some history that needs running from here:
Yeah, I stole the picture from a poster who stole it from Life magazine. This is a national treasure and should be in the public domain. Would Life sue me if I used the Iwo Jima picture? Of course not.
Road jerseys weren't on sale back in 1996, so that Clash jersey is exceedingly rare. Let's keep it that way. (I tried to find out what the Earthquakes did to celebrate their tenth anniversary in MLS, but kept getting redirects for some reason.)
The gentleman in hot pursuit of Altimont Butler in the above photo is Dan Calichman, who took time out of doing God's work in bringing Chivas USA to its knees to celebrate the Galaxy's third jersey. It's a fauxback, not a throwback, and I expect this will be the route that other teams try to take - especially those who have worked as hard to bury their past as Kansas City or the Red Bulls.
Carlos Rodriguez has taken some stick for inflicting this on an unwary nation, but as you can see, Adidas did him no favors. Sure, they unblue the logo, but they took the strong dark green of the original design, which as you see Rodriguez was faithful to, and completely Miami Dolphinized it.
I wasn't gonna buy it anyway, because Herbalife has vandalized it. But I would have. I think too many of the Galaxy fans who are decrying it have forgotten the pre-Beckham days when juniper was sartorial elegance, and we didn't let vanity get in the way of our offensiveness. And it will take more than glowers from Keane and DeLaGarza to convince me otherwise.
Oh, while I'm here - there is a theory that the original Galaxy jersey was an homage to the City of Los Angeles flag, which looks like this:
That would imply foresight and consideration in marketing which simply did not exist in MLS before Peter Wilt. (San Jose's crest, by the way, really is a tribute to their city logo, a fact which never fails to fascinate me but probably should at some point.) It's fairly easily disproven. The Galaxy have never actually called the city of Los Angeles their home, and in 1996 looked to be a Pasadena team for the foreseeable future. A true city flag design wouldn't have been so heavy on the black. And most damning of all, the original Galaxy 1996 jersey was actually based on a Nike template. Read it and weep:
Unless the theory is that San Jose and East Rutherford were also honoring the LA city flag. No, the 1996 Galaxy jersey was just the product of the same geniuses who brought you this:
But what about Dallas and Kansas City? They can't run from the past forever. I predict now that KC is popular and cool, they will embrace the past ironically with a couple of rainbow games. They may draw the line at "Wiz," but I can see the black Charlie Brown jersey making a glorious comeback. Remember how I said Adidas generally did a good job with their teams back in 1996? The Wiz were the tragic exception.
Dallas - yeah, they may have to fold the franchise. Or rebrand to the Tornado. HINT HINT.