Jersey Review: Galaxy Unveil 2012 Kit

If there is one thing many of the MLS Original clubs have in common, it is a history of kit design with little continuity and even less tradition.  Los Angeles shares the top spot  on this unfortunate list – alongside Kansas City – with a radical departure in design coming every year or two since their inception.

But the beginning of the Bechkam era (MLS 2.0) coincided with a league-wide push for brand identity and as a result, in the years since, the casual fan can identify the teams around the league using only the clues provided by a color swatch.

And as far as brand identity goes, Los Angeles Galaxy has led the way.  Their all-white home kit with accents of blue and gold is not only recognized by casual soccer fans the world over, but by American soccerphobes as well, an arguably bigger achievement.  On top of that, the Galaxy’s #23 jersey is one of the most-sold jerseys in the world.  In any sport.  Ever.

The Beckham-era Galaxy jersey, love it or hate it, works.

So why does the 2012 version radically depart from it?

The 2012 LA Galaxy Home Jersey

The 2012 Galaxy home jersey is an ambitious change from the understated white the team’s fans have grown accustomed over the last half-decade.  The differences between this jersey and the one splashed across global newspaper headlines after the team’s 2011 MLS Cup title win are difficult to compare side-by-side – there just isn’t a lot of carryover between the two.

So let’s just look at the new jersey, get feel for it, and share some opinions, shall we?

Goodbye, Gold (bad)

Every Galaxy jersey since the team’s earliest days has included the color gold, either as a dominant color or an accent color.  This jersey, outside of the crest, lacks a single speck of gold.  Considering that Galaxy’s fans have long called themselves the “[_blank_]-&-Gold,” – formerly the “Teal & Gold,” the “Gold and Green,” and most recently, “Blue and Gold” – this is a pretty big omission.

Badge/Logo Clutter (bad)

The Scudetto (the defending champion crest, upper left) clutters a left side already occupied by the Adidas logo. Nevermind that I’ve long harbored misgivings about its design and color – it’s TV unfriendly, looking like a blotch from afar – the Scudetto’s placement definitely didn’t figure into this jersey’s design.  If it and the Adidas logo were to switch places, that might be an improvement.

Armhole Accents (good)

The sharp, pointing accents around the armholes are an excellent touch.  They provide a hint of color and imbues the jersey with an aggressive and sporty personality.

The Blue (great)

The Galaxy has done a great job using the color blue over the last few years, whether it’s their accent striping on their home jerseys or their blue-dominant away kits.  This years’ jersey looks to use a bolder, richer, more “royal” shade of blue that pops against the predominant white.  It’s a visually-pleasing shade that borders on sexy, in this writer’s opinion.

The Sash (great)

The elephant in the room, the sash is the biggest addition to – and the biggest deviation from – the Beckham-era jerseys.  Not since the 2003-2006 campaigns have the Galaxy worn a sash and, just like then, the sash is distinctive amongst the league – which is always a plus.

A hatch-like pattern adorns the sash and gives the impression of sparkling and shimmering, of stars shining, an appropriate subconscious association considering this is Galaxy – a collection of stars – we’re talking about.

In short, the sash is beautiful, but…

The Sash (bad)

…there are three bad things about the sash:

1) The sponsorship logo slices it in half.  This ruined continuity in the sash’s run detracts from it.  While most people don’t like the “HERBALIFE” logo (or more accurately, its typeface), I do.  The logo itself is not a problem, as far as I’m concerned.  I just wish it they hadn’t sliced the sash in two to accommodate it.  Surely an overlay a la the ’06 jersey (see header image)  could have been worked out.

2) Star placement.  After this season, Galaxy will add a third star above their crest (it currently resides in the Scudetto) but in order to do this attractively, there needs to be room above the crest.  Take a gander at the placement of the current crest and its two championship stars.  Unless Galaxy decide to forgo convention (horizontal alignment of the stars) and get creative with their star placement, the crest/star arrangement in the 2013 version will be grossly asymmetrical with the sash to the point that it will distract from the elegance of the sash itself.

3) The knee-jerk reaction when I first laid eyes upon the jersey.  I knew I had seen this jersey many times before… but from where?

Oh.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the away jersey of the Guatemalan national team.  I’m no fan of fellow CONCACAF nations and particularly the brand of nasty ball the Guatemalans are known for. Anything related to their program just puts a bad taste in my mouth.  So much so that my first action upon seeing the Galaxy’s newest jersey was to wrack my brain trying to figure out why it seemed so familiar – and why I had a nagging distaste for something I was trying to convince myself was beautiful.

Admittedly, there are significant differences between the two jerseys, but the similarities exist and they’re not entirely dismissible. And that’s a shame.

I really, really hope that fans in Central and South America – not to mention around the world – don’t make a similar reflexive association, even if a second later they realize whose kit they’re seeing; it will undo a sizable part of the brand-building the Galaxy’s previous design has done for them over the years.

Verdict

This writer has mixed feelings for the new jersey.  In time, I’m sure it will grow on me. In the end, regardless of what they wear, they’re still Los Angeles’ team.  And as a native Angelino (or close enough), I will continue to support my team.

And I might even buy the new jersey.

But I’ll wear my old one when Guatemala comes to town.

What are your thoughts on the 2012 Galaxy Home Jersey?  Love it?  Hate it? Share any of Tommy’s opinion?  Couldn’t disagree with him more? Share your thoughts below!

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Posted on 02/01/2012, in Culture & Style, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. My biggest problem with the sash is the pattern on it. It looks like tire marks. I’m not a fan of jerseys that look like they have been run over. They definitely should have kept the god too.

    • You know, I hadn’t given thought to the sash resembling a tire tread but upon looking at it again, I can totally see your point. My own generally-positive review of the sash element may have to be re-evaluated!

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