Ironing Out the Wrinkles: The Top 5 USL Eastern Conference Kits

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Source: USL

With all of the uncertainty surrounding FC Cincinnati’s stadium applications and roster alterations, the fan base has been anxiously waiting for change. To coincide with the team’s third USL season, there were indications that FCC’s kit designs would be changing. On the whole, fans loved the initial 2016 blue-orange bomb-pop designs. However, the 2017 all-black third jerseys felt recycled from the San Antonio FC collection and a step back from the previous year.

2018 felt like a complete facelift was in order. Pittsburgh and Harrisburg were revamping their logo and appearance, while Nashville and Fresno were coming out of the blocks with a fresh look. However, both were completely upstaged by the neon-and-confetti Las Vegas Lights FC kits with emoji faces on the inside.

FC Cincinnati had to make a splash, and I feel they hit all the right buttons with the concept. The new primary kit rocks a hooped orange-on-blue design, while the secondary white kit with orange sleeves has me thirsty to spend my hard-earned dollars. For both designs, the Bavarian diamonds are exactly what the team needed to make the brand unique.

All of the kit changes have me wondering—which ones are the best in the Eastern Conference? Which kit would I be willing to trade for? Since it’s hard for me to stay unbiased, I’m going to keep the FCC threads out of my rankings. Here are my Top 5 from 2018.

5. Charleston Battery (Home/Away/Third: 2018)

Last year’s black-and-yellow design was cool with a top-to-bottom gradient transitioning from shoulders to hem. Still, if you’ve witnessed Charleston’s quarter-century history, the horizontal look was a step back from the traditional black-and-yellow vertical-stripe design. The team returned to that thick-striped iconic look from the past and introduced secondary and third jerseys that are photonegatives of each other. Bengals diehards will likely shy away from the primary kits, but the black “25th Anniversary” alternate jersey is pretty sweet with the Battery logo in black and white.

4. Bethlehem Steel FC (Home: 2018, Away: 2016)

This is the point of the list where I could honestly see myself purchasing any of the kits available this year. Philadelphia Union tried before with a 2013 ode to the old 1920s Bethlehem Steel, but the bloated Bimbo logo was a hindrance. Bethlehem’s kits from 2016 were a solid restart and a comfortable dichotomy of a collared white secondary with a non-collared dark primary kit. Even though the big red B on the hem may be gone, the new primary kits look quite nice with the diagonal pinstripes, opting to use the Bethlehem-logo red in the collar.

3. Penn FC (Home/Away: 2018)

You may laugh at my choice of Penn FC at this point of the list, but I like variety. I’m a big fan of having one kit with a collar and the other without it. It tells me that the team wants to stand out between the home and away models. The electric-blue and white color scheme is bold, a daring choice for a reset team that needed to make an immediate splash in the USL. The secondary kit’s staggered collar, white sides, and dotted-line shoulders stand out from other away kits, and the home kit’s polo collar is pronounced, blue on a white shirt. Take away one of the three logos on the front, and I’m buying one.

2. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (Home/Away/Third: 2018)

There have been some chuckles about the Riverhounds’ branding in the past. However, it’s 2018, and the complete logo refurbishing has led to a really solid improvement in kit design. As overused as the yellow color may be, it’s a constant torchbearer and unifying scheme in the Pittsburgh sports scene. The primary jerseys with horizontal black stripes are eye-catching, and the yellow color is brighter than last year’s mustard. The tertiary jersey is also quite unique, as its vertical black stripes are composed of finer smaller stripes. The secondary kit—a black-and-grey half-and-half design—is a little distracting like Louisville’s third design, but overall the kits make these designs a terrific upgrade.

1. Tampa Bay Rowdies (Home/Away/Third: 2018)

It’s hard for me to deny that Tampa Bay has the most remarkable color scheme in the second division. A team in the Sunshine State needs to have something as citrusy as possible, so the lemon-lime hoops make sense. The home and third designs are merely flopped versions of each other, but the white away kit is unique to both. Look closely, and you’ll see a very light yellow tiger-striped edge to the white-green hoops. The Hard Rock Café logo is perhaps one of the more recognized ones in the USL, and I can’t imagine the Rowdies not wearing that sponsor now or in the future.

What USL team kits have caught your eye this season? What are your thoughts regarding the new FC Cincinnati jerseys?  How bad is the Louisville City FC third kit? Let us know what you think!

Author: Geoffrey Tebbetts

Contributor for the Orange & Blue Press for FC Cincinnati coverage.

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