A striking team jersey does more than identify the players, it inspires and unites the fans — especially when the team is representing your country on a world stage, such as the one international soccer champions will be taking in Qatar for the much-anticipated World Cup.
But when Nike unveiled its design for the USMNT’s World Cup kits, the only thing uniting fans was their “collective hatred” for the less-than-Patriotic look, which is drawing scores of criticism for a boring design that, as former defender Alexi Lalas said, could have “leaned” more into the “red, white and blue.”
U.S. team members will don what is little more than a white shirt at home. Small blue and red squiggles and a small USA crest under the neck are all that allude to the American flag.
For games away, the jersey to be worn is splotchy blue, a sort-of tie-dyed affair that more closely resembles a Rorschach Test than it does a winning American brand.
Prepped to battle in Blue 🇺🇸
— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) September 15, 2022
Or, as one user on Twitter put it, “That kit looks like an animal print my single aunt would wear to a cocktail party.”
That kit looks like an animal print my single aunt would wear to a cocktail party. 🤮🤮🤮
— Michael Zarocostas 🌐 🇺🇸 ⚖️ (@ZeeEsquire) September 15, 2022
Another user expressed concern for player Brenden Aaronson, who was pictured flashing a “heart” sign with a smile plastered on his face.
Just outside the frame on Aaronson’s picture is a Nike exec:
“Do the heart sign with your hands and pretend to love the kit!” pic.twitter.com/PJxXhAct5C
— horsepepsi (@horsepepsi) September 15, 2022
Another fan claimed he’d now have to change his status as a U.S. citizen.
“Hey, nice job @nike,” the user tweeted. “Instead of buying my 5th USMNT jersey, now I have to switch citizenship.”
Hey, nice job @nike. Instead of buying my 5th USMNT jersey, now I have to switch citizenship.
— dbex (@dbex99) September 15, 2022
On his “State of the Union” podcast, Lalas wasn’t quite as harsh, but his disappointment in the design was palatable.
“No matter what you do, there are going to be people who aren’t going to like it,” he said. “It’s very, very rare that jerseys come out and they’re universally beloved and even sometimes it takes time for that to happen, so I’m not saying that can’t change.”
“But we have a built-in appearance. We are red, white and blue. We are stars and stripes. And I think no matter who it is, whether it’s a soccer team or somebody else, we should lean into that and we should take pride in that,” he continued.
“‘I think that being big and bold and beautiful, and yeah at times a little arrogant, that’s who we are and our aesthetic should reflect what I feel is the greatest country in the world. All of that good and at times the bad should be reflected in what we do,” Lalas stated. “So, it designs itself to a certain extent. Be big, be bold, be red, white and blue, be stars and stripes, be over the top. But most importantly, be memorable.”
“US jerseys grow/change with time. Our aesthetic should reflect what I think is the greatest country in the world,” the soccer star said on Twitter. “But if the times we live in have us scared to lean into the red/white/blue or stars & stripes of the flag, then we’re lost.”
US jerseys grow/change with time. Our aesthetic should reflect what I think is the greatest country in the world. But if the times we live in have us scared to lean into the red/white/blue or stars & stripes of the flag, then we’re lost.🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/7RRUrWjXMo
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) September 15, 2022
One fan prefers to see this as a possible glass-half-full moment.
“The only thing that has ever brought the entire USMNT Twitter community together,” the user noted, “is our collective hatred for the World Cup kits.”
The only thing that has ever brought the entire USMNT Twitter community together is our collective hatred for the World Cup kits
— American Hooligans🇺🇸⚽️ (@AmericanHoolis) September 15, 2022
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