But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous – why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian's Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind.
- Herman Melville, "Moby-Dick"
They just didn't care.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000, "Attack of the The Eye Creatures"
What's particularly galling about the 2019 Crap Rides a Pale Horse collection that Adidas has bestowed upon poor, long-suffering MLS teams is that no, as a matter of fact, the white shirts are not all the same. Real Salt Lake has red glitches. Philadelphia has their snake radiating rays of, unity? I don't know. New England has two shades of white. Dallas, San Jose and Orlando have stripes – stripes it would take Antonie Van Freaking Leeuwenhoek to make out, but by golly there they are. Vancouver, Chicago and the Galaxy have big stripes, and are probably all really grateful this year. The Rapids get to have the Colorado flag as a jock tag. The Red Bulls even get to wear gray, with sublimated inspirational words. It's godawful! You'll love it!
So it's possible to individualize these things. And none of them would be infuriating, in the traditional Major League Soccer sense, by themselves. Colorado in particular showed, with its impressive "Black Diamond" campaign, that a spare look by itself can be attractive and interesting. Imagine how effective it would have been if the Rapids weren't lost in a sea of white deeper than Tony Montana's conference room. The "Black Diamond" loses a lot of its luster when it's rolled out next to obvious low-effort, they'll-buy-it-anyway nonsense like Cincinnati's inaugural replica.
Fortunately I have solutions. Don't I always?
I've read that some of this stems from FIFA wanting as much contrast as possible, but on the one hand I'm skeptical of FIFA trial balloons, and on the other hand, who cares what FIFA thinks? What are they going to do, disband the league? Give the World Cup to Morocco? "Hey, when San Jose and Kansas City play, those are two shades of blue and it can be confusing" WHO CARES. If Gianni doesn't like it, let him watch college football like everyone else.
The real issue is league-wide rollouts and templates. Major League Soccer is a collective that ants and bees would admire, but a consistent brand identity is the last thing sports fans want. Bears and Packers fans don't want to look alike. The Yankees don't want to adapt to anyone else, and should frankly be annoyed with the White Sox at this point. So is Columbus the only team that gets to be different? Was it just because Garber didn't think they'd be in the league?
Well, and Seattle. Maybe this was just Adidas making sure that the Puget Vice design was well-received. And it worked! I love it! Compared to all the others!
So mix it up more, Adidas. As far as we're concerned, FIFA is a deep-sea fishing industry association. If they say you have to work with white – ignore them. You got peach to work last year, didn't you?
But Adidas, despite the high-hat they gave to Cincinnati, isn't the issue here. The clubs need to assert their identity. Stop thinking in terms of black and white – please. The first set should be something iconic – and that's up to the club to figure out, and it may take years. Some teams get it right in year one, like DC and Chicago. Some take a little longer, like the Galaxy. Some might never. But the goal is, eventually, a consistent primary jersey.
The second shirt can be a little more fun. "What WOULD we look like in purple, green and clear?" If it's fun and it sells, great! If it stinks, who cares? You're punishing the other team's fans. The RSL, LAFC and Seattle shirts are, in this case, perfectly done. Imagine how successful the Rapids' Black Diamond spiel would have been if six other teams weren't using the same thesaurus.
The third jersey should be something local. Like, obnoxiously local. City flag shirts are the obvious choice here, of course, and of course throwbacks and fauxbacks. But something for diehard fans, obsessive and devoted supporters – the sort of person who would buy and wear a third jersey, basically.
Lastly, let the teams pick their own number fonts. This league-wide design nonsense makes every team look interchangeable. The convenience isn't worth the anonymity. And don't tell me this opens the door to bringing back the Tampa Bay Mutiny LED clock numbers. First of all, that would be glorious. Second, the entire league had LED clock fonts for a couple of years, and it looked trite. It's great when one team does something off-center, not so much when four hundred players are wearing the same thing. Baseball is so clearly your model here, it's not funny – look at all the different ways teams can be interesting. How stupid and boring would it look if the Red Sox had the same number set as the Blue Jays? MLS stupid and boring, that's how.
I rant about this because it's so frustratingly fixable. Nobody in the world is thinking "MLS has consistent numbers, like the Premier League. So, the quality of play must be as high as the Premiership." At least, I hope nobody is. If they are, MLS should not be encouraging that sort of person to out in public unsupervised.
No, the title is not a reference to the MLS coaching ranks.
I agree with Bill about Robert Kraft, and I hope they put him and his family on a heated griddle until they recite everything they know about human trafficking in iambic pentameter. This is a Department of Justice matter, after all, nothing against Jupiter police, and I hope heads roll and blood is spilt.
So, quick MLS guesses:
1. Atlanta – you know, if they wore blue and black, they could be Atlanta Atalanta. Stop me if I've told you that one
2. New York Transhudson
3. New York Cishudson
4. DC United - unless Ben Olsen is the problem? Nah, couldn't be
5. Cincinnati – everyone has them down to be inaugural Minnesota United/inaugural Salt Lake level of stink here, so I'm going to be cool and different. And, very likely, wrong.
6. Columbus – I underrate and underappreciate Caleb Porter, and think the Crew will lose a few steps in the transition. But rediscovered home field energy could put them in the top three.
7. Montreal. I'm overrating these guys something fierce, aren't I.
8. Orlando – the WORST thing about MLS is trying to decide whether to give the last playoff spot to Orlando or Montreal, or a similarly inconsequential choice.
9. Toronto FC – until they show otherwise, 2017 was a fluke engineered by the little guy they ran out of town. Prove me wrong, Coach Greg with One G. [Edit - two G's, technically, but]
10. I hate putting Chicago down here etc. etc. see above except for the Sting and early Fire actually winning stuff. Does the Fire actually still have an owner?
11. I hate putting New England down here every year. They're, like, the fossil record of pro soccer, but first the NASL in the 70's now MLS gives a market that should be – and has been – top two pure garbage. But I have to keep them down here until ownership changes.
1. Sporting Kansas City, by enough to get the Shield, maybe
4. You know what, screw it, kick off for the regular season is in twenty minutes or so, and I'm super-optimistic about at least two teams IF crap gets resolved by Call to the Post. And I have no rational reason to believe it will, but let me just assume the very best here and start over.
1. Sporting Kansas City.
2. Seattle. I think they'll be fine without Ozzie, what do you think of that, huh?
3. The Galaxy could begin the season a little light and fragile up front, a little unreliable in the back – and freaking loaded with money. Or they could have a couple of fraternal millstones for another season. I'm choosing to believe if LA were going to keep Gio under any circumstances, they'd have done so by now. They'll stink early, sign a huge name – maybe two, they have room and creativity – and get white-hot by October. Or they'll finish nineteenth.
4. San Jose was my surprise to be sneaky good, until rumors started circulating that Club America wanted to beat them up and steal their coach. I also don't think too highly of the West this year, truth be told. But Almeyda shows an institutional willingness to go in the right direction, even if Almeyda himself doesn't work out. And I don’t think much of the West this year.
5. Okay, rationally Portland should be up a few spots, since according to one recent ranking – the ACTUAL PLAYOFFS – they were the best of this lot
6. Minnesota. You heard me. Can't very well say DC, Cincy and Columbus will ride home field advantages and not include the team opening their new home, can I?
7. Vancouver. Here's a mystery team. They could rocket all the way to sixth, or drop all the way to eighth.
8. Or maybe Dallas makes the playoffs? Why am I not sold on their new coach? Because whoever finishes seventh has a chance to WIN IT ALL, BABY, and I want to get this pick right
9. I guess I could pick Houston to win the Open Cup again
10. How the hell did the Rams make it to the Super Bowl with Kroenke in charge? Hell, how did the Rapids win an MLS Cup with Kroenke in charge?
11. I'm not letting my biases guide my judgment, I have arrived at the conclusion that LAFC suck and I hate them on strictly empirical data, careful observation and solid facts. By the way, what does happen if LAFC does become the indwelling for Chivas USA and starts having Tarp Appreciation Night, have we planned for that?
Shield: Kansas City
Open Cup: Chattanooga Red Wolves (USL)
MLS Cup: New York Red Bulls. I think this is their year, and the season-long race against Atlanta will be a towering classic in any case.