With the NWSL Challenge Cup officially kicking off tomorrow, we decided to take a look at the best and worst 2020 NWSL kits. In an effort to spice things up, we also reached out to a few NWSL players to get their thoughts on a few as well.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is causing uncertainty in nearly every facet of our lives, some things remain the same. For example, the return of the NWSL comes with a slew of new drip to blow your quarantine budget on. Over the last few weeks, clubs began to roll out their 2020 kits — some of them are straight buttery and others…not so much.
As always, we celebrate the fire jerseys while also highlighting the near misses and complete fails.
Portland Thorns Home
We start off with perhaps THE kit of the 2020 NWSL season, the Portland Thorns home kit. The shirt is jet black, featuring a watermark pattern consisting of several gray roses along with a red stripe down the side of the torso. It’s Leonardo DiCaprio putting his fist in his mouth in Wolf Of Wall Street good. Seriously, give the Thorns’ design team their flowers on this one. The only thing holding us back is the hefty $165 price tag on the authentic version.
Pick up the Thorns’ home kit via their team shop.
Utah Royals Home
Playing in their backyard in the Challenge Cup, the Utah Royals will be one of the sharpest looking squads thanks to their beautiful home kit. It’s in a solid royal navy, but midway down the front a gold outline of the Wasatch Mountains sets the shirt apart. Reminiscent of the Slovenia national team jerseys that collectors widely praise, slight design cues with meaning to the team like this are always welcome and prevent a generic, boring release. At a $90 price tag on the authentic, the Royals kit is a bit more pocket-friendly for those looking to add it to their collection.
Unveiled last week, the home jersey has been well-received by not just the fans, but players too. Royals midfielder Lo’eau Labonta was particularly fond of the mountain design.
“Honestly I think adding the mountains onto the jersey was a dope idea,” Labonta said. “You see those beautiful mountains from our stadium so I think it’s part of our identity as a club.”
However, the shift to navy represents a departure from last year’s gold, which Labonta says she’ll miss.
“I will always miss the gold tops because that was the original jersey for the new club,” she said. “We still have our gold shorts, which I think is the color that helps us stand out from the other teams.”
The Utah Royals’ home kit is available now on their team store.
Chicago Red Stars Away
This is also saucy as hell. Dubbed “The Neighborhood Kit,” the Chicago Red Stars away jersey features the Chi-Town flag made up of city neighborhoods on the front, and the city’s skyline in the same design on the back.
The club turned heads with the introduction of their “Elevated” kit last year, and once again the Red Stars have cooked up a kit that pays homage to the city they call home.
“I really love the new white kits for this season,” says Red Stars forward Katie Johnson. “It showcases all of the neighborhoods in Chicago which I think is really unique. Our jerseys always do a really great job of showcasing the city of Chicago and why it’s such a special place to live and play sports.”
Pick up the Chicago Red Stars’ “Neighborhood” kit via their team store.
Sky Blue FC Primary
Unveiled yesterday, Sky Blue FC looked to make a statement with their 2020 home kits, fittingly dubbed “Lightning Strikes.” The black base is accented by electric blue lines in the shape of lightning bolts on the right half.
The contrast works extraordinarily well, and the lightning bolts stand out without being too distracting (take notes, AS Roma). The club plans to roll out a white version, presumably their away jersey, which will be made available via an online game-worn jersey auction that’s set to occur during the Challenge Cup.
The “Lightning Strikes” home kit is available now via the Sky Blue FC online shop.
North Carolina Courage Home
This one, like most in our “bad” section, is a near miss. We love the midnight navy color and the simple, classic look of the North Carolina Courage home kit. It reminds us of several of the big European clubs who don’t change their home shirts because they’re iconic and never go out of style. The issue here though is the jagged vertical pinstripes, which don’t quite seem to match up just above the sponsor.
Pick up the NC Courage home kit here.
Utah Royals Away
Similar to the NC Courage home kit, we love the concept of the Utah Royals away kit. The mainly white shirt has horizontal stripes made of a small gold sun dial pattern running down the torso. Between every other horizontal stripe, there are watermark patterns consisting of gray crowns, the same one at the top of the club’s crest. Perhaps if the horizontal stripes were solid navy and the crowns were gold instead of gray, the kit would pop more.
Pick up the Utah Royals away kit here.
Orlando Pride Away
The last of the near misses is the Orlando Pride away kit. Inspired by the iconic swans of Lake Eola, the shirt features a solid white torso with a plume design on the sleeves meant to represent a swan’s feathers. The design isn’t terrible, although it isn’t exactly the most colorful. Compared to the plethora of other bird-themed kits out there, it’s a bit underwhelming.
Pick up the Orlando Pride away kit here.
Houston Dash Away
The Houston Dash released their away kit in conjunction with a ‘Luv Ya Dash’ campaign, which gives off major retro throwback vibes to the Houston Oilers NFL franchise. The torso is solid white, with a light blue horizontal stripe sandwiched between two smaller burnt orange stripes where the sponsor is.
The powder blue is synonymous with the Oilers, who have some of the freshest throwbacks in all of sports. However, besides that blue stripe, there’s nothing super retro about the shirt. The Dash were founded in 2014, and there’s not much to work with in terms of retro, so it makes sense to tie in the Oilers. We just wish that they would’ve gone all in. There’s a lot of potential for an all-powder blue design with orange accents.
But not everyone agrees with us. (Shocker!) For Johnson, the Dash jerseys are some of her favorite outside of Chicago’s.
“I think that every [NWSL] team takes pride in the city they represent and pays attention to details in the jersey,” Johnson said. “I think that Houston has a pretty cool jersey this year, especially because orange is a hard color to wear.”
You can pick up the Houston Dash “Luv Ya Dash” kit here.
Portland Thorns Away
We can see what the Thorns were going for here with their away kit. A white shirt with a rose thorn watermark pattern to compliment the one on their home kit. It just came out poorly, with the rose thorns evoking images of barbed wire. Maybe it’s a crossover collab with the TV show Prison Break? Arsenal appear to have done a similar thing with blood spatter analyst Dexter for one of their leaked kits for next year. For $165, miss us with this one.
You can pick up the Portland Thorns away kit here.
NC Courage Away
Saving the worst for last, we have the NC Courage away kit. It’s literally just a plain white shirt. They either ran out of their design budget and mailed this one in, or they went to the MLS Away Kit School of Design for tips. It’s a Hanes undershirt, but for $115.
Labonta had similar thoughts to us on this one too.
“I mean the only thing I can say for them is that maybe less isn’t always more,” she said. “More is more. But, they also are back-to-back champs so I don’t have much place to speak.”
That’s a valid point — you don’t have to look good as long as you win. (But as a wise prophet once said, “Why not both?”)
Pick up the NC Courage away kit here.
What’s your favorite 2020 NWSL kit? Let us know in the comments below.