Standing on stage in a sun-drenched pavilion on Orlando Health’s downtown campus, Orlando City President and Founder Phil Rawlins couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning for the release of Orlando City’s inaugural MLS home kit.
It was a star-studded event, as nearly 100 media members joined Rawlins, along with a majority of the current MLS roster. Kevin Molino and Tommy Redding were on hand to model the new kits for the crowd, while Tyler Turner, Harrison Heath, Darwin Cerén, Rafael Ramos, Estrela, and Luke Boden looked on from the front row. Notably absent, of course, was Brazilian superstar Kaka, though not entirely, as he made a larger than life appearance on City’s new gigantic billboard, which was unfurled at the end of the event.
It’s worth noting that my fashion sense isn’t exactly my most respected trait. However, based on the response, I think it’s safe to say that City might consider stocking up on these for the team store.
The home jersey itself isn’t a major deviation from what Orlando has worn in the past. Purple is still the team color, contrary to Phil Rawlins’ quip that they “thought about switching to black and white stripes,” a la Newcastle United.
In fact, it may very well be the kit’s subtle nods toward the past that have already clearly made it a fan favorite.
- “This is Orlando” is stitched on the inside of the neck tape, a reference to the Iron Lion Firm slogan. Rawlins says “Forever Our City,” the motto of The Ruckus supporter group, will appear on the away kits.
- A small gold crown on the back neckline, highlighting City’s championship success prior to MLS entry.
- City’s original three-lion logo is stitched onto the inside of the jersey, directly on the player’s heart.
Other than that, we see white stripes on the arms and waist, and subtle hints of gold on the neck line, as well as the team crest, sponsor logo, and MLS crest.
It seems like an easy thing, but there’s no shortage of examples of professional teams that have disappointed their fans with new jerseys. It can’t be overstated how important the subtle nods to the past are to the City fans and supporter groups. With the move to MLS, City has always run the risk of alienating the fans who have followed them since the USL years and even before. It’s a very fine line between marketing and bringing in new fans, and staying true to the fans who have brought you to this point. This jersey design is a hugely positive move on both fronts.
For some reason, the Colorado Rockies’ Twitter account (@rockies) summed everything up perfectly: