My duties around here rarely require me delve into the world of American soccer below the level of MLS, but today I thought I would. I want to shine a little light (and maybe throw a little shade) on the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies and their new kits because they really do fit in with the ethos of this site- and I also know that I have at least one reader who is a HUGE fan of the club.
The home (green) and away (white) are great and they are great for several reasons. First, they carry on some kit traditions that have been around since the original club was founded in 1974- the hooped sleeves remain (and sewn from separate pieces of fabric, not just printed on), the original font remains (used for both the wordmark and the numbering), and the colorways are also retained without any extra flourishes or additional trim colors. And then there are the socks- I could not like them more. They could have gone with the more traditional, wide-hooped style, but these are just perfect. P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
They get the basics right, but what about the details? With one exception (which I’ll get to in a moment) they get the details right as well. The kit provider, Admiral, is perfect for a club so in touch with its history- Admiral has been around since 1914 and has been making football kits since 1966. The sponsor’s logo (Mainsail Suites) is so small- it’s on the left side of the chest- that I hope they didn’t pay too much for it! There are two stars above the “ROWDIES” wordmark- one for their Soccer Bowl victory in the “old” NASL, and one for their “new” NASL championship last season. Again, well done. Finally, the sleeve features a sweet NASL patch (I LOVE the way the silhouette of North America is worked into it), and the back features a smaller player name above the number and the Admiral wordmark below it:
What don’t I like? The not-meant-to-be-tucked-in shirt is not my favorite style, but the contrasting band around the bottom helps, and in a pair of kits so well done in general it doesn’t come close to “ruining” it. As for the black alternate kit…whatever. It’s nothing more than an attempt to generate some income and, objectively speaking, it’s not awful, so, fine. I think they probably could have been more creative with it, but if it sells, it sells.
Finally, there are the goalkeeper kits. Generally speaking, I like the “all gray” look that a lot of kit providers/clubs have adopted in recent years, and on a team that wears a lot of green and yellow, the goalkeeper really can’t wear those colors, so it makes sense as a choice for the Rowdies. It fails, however, for two reasons. First, using yellow for the secondary color on this kit is a huge mistake- it just doesn’t contrast enough with the gray. I don’t think substituting green for the yellow would have been perfect, but it would have been a marked improvement. I also think that on such a plain kit the absence of the contrasting band around the bottom of the shirt makes it look both plain and shapeless. The away goalkeeper kit is better- it’s all red with white trim and lettering/numbering- in terms of the contrast, but as with the home kit, the lack of any contrast in the waistline makes it look like a unitard. That is decidedly not a good thing, by the way. Both goalkeeper kits feature solid socks as well, and that is a mistake. Where are the hoops!?
Overall, however, a great job. A lot of clubs would do well to mimic both the concepts and the execution of the Rowdies.