In addition to paying tribute to Houston icon DJ Screw, Screwston FC’s upcoming kit is a talisman that unites the city through two of its biggest loves — hip-hop and sports.
I have lots of kits — five of them alone from my hometown Sounders. The item I wear the most though isn’t a traditional jersey, scarf, or even t-shirt (technically).
It’s a quasi-kit that blends elements of soccer and basketball on a retro-style baseball jersey. There’s a Sounders crest, but the colors are in those of the Seattle SuperSonics (RIP and for the record, fuck the NBA). I love it — anytime the Sounders come to LA to play the Galaxy or LAFC I wear it to the game, and it’s fun to see Seattleites and their excitement over a Sonics/Sounders crossover. You have to know Seattle and the Sonics to get it — it’s not simply a Sounders thing, it’s a Seattle thing. It’s cool to have things that connect to an entire city, rather than just a sports team.
I also used to have a job that allowed me to travel a lot, and everywhere I went I would try to scope out where the local professional soccer team played (if there was one). I’ll always remember Houston. BBVA Stadium was a seven-minute walk from my downtown hotel — the shortest walk I’ve ever done to a stadium. It’s also a beautiful, state-of-the-art structure.
But Houston’s presence in MLS has been minimal for a while now, despite it being the fourth-largest city in the country. The Houston Dynamo has seen a fair share of success, including back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007, and more recently a U.S. Open Cup victory in 2018, but the club’s attendance doesn’t quite reflect that. Over the past few seasons, the Dynamo have consistently ranked in the bottom half of MLS attendance, and after seeing the city, the stadium and the stadium’s location, it doesn’t make sense seeing it empty week after week on TV (before that was the norm).
The same goes for the Dash, the reigning NWSL Challenge Cup victors. The club had the third-highest average attendance in the league in both 2016 and 2017, but it dropped to the bottom four in the next two seasons, including eighth out of nine teams in 2019.
Screwston FC aims to fix some of that and give the city’s residents a new kit to rep.
“I always felt Houston was kind of under-represented soccer culture wise for how big of a city it is,” said Screwston FC founder Bryan Salas.
Salas wasn’t born in Houston — his family moved from Mexico when he was 9 — but he calls the city home and it’s where he grew up.
“We moved to Southeast Houston, which is where DJ Screw started,” Salas said. “My cousins and I grew up jamming to him so it’s pretty nostalgic, and with him passing it made sense for this project to pay homage to what the city represents for me.”
If you couldn’t tell by its name, the late and legendary DJ Screw is the inspiration behind Screwston FC, which blends hip-hop and the beautiful game through kits. We’ve seen this medium connect the two wildly popular cultures in the past, but unlike what’s come before it, Screwston FC has a deep, inseparable connection to its namesake, someone with perpetual ties to the city of Houston even two decades after his death.
DJ Screw originated the “Chopped and Screwed” subgenre of hip-hop, and is an essential figure in the Houston rap scene that has thrived since the ’90s. Artists from UGK, Mike Jones, and Paul Wall, all the way to Travis Scott have all been influenced by Screw in some way, and any Houstonian would be quick to tell you of his legendary status.
To pay tribute to the Houston icon, Screwston FC’s kit is decked out in purple, the color of Screw’s drink of choice, and details like the crest and name/number are homages to his short-yet storied career. Just how big was DJ Screw’s sphere of influence? “June 27,” the track referenced on the back of the Screwston FC kit, was sampled by
rap pop superstar Drake on “November 18,” a cut from his seminal mixtape So Far Gone.
The kit represents Salas’ first foray into kit design, but as the in-house photographer and graphic designer for both the Dynamo and Dash, he’s far from green in terms of creating with soccer fans in mind.
Salas said that both the Dynamo and Dash have been open to him branching out for a personal project, and that even a few coworkers have offered to help. There’s rumors of an Austin FC employee getting involved as well…
But all jokes aside, Screwston is something I’d love to see pop up all over the U.S. It’s always great to see the local scene making the city its own kit.
As amazing as it would be, it’s completely understandable why Dynamo or Dash are yet to rock purple despite the color’s connection to Houston. That’s why every city needs a Screwston FC to connect with the community in ways that larger teams can’t.
“I can see people wearing this to Astros or Rockets games just as much as the Dynamo or Dash,” Salas said.
We know MLS is strict about jersey design, but what that really does is create an amazing opportunity for us fans to take ownership of our culture. With COVID-19 stalling last season and still affecting the life of a team photographer, Salas decided to start the dream idea — but that wasn’t as simple as flexing his graphic design muscles.
Every Screwston jersey is hand made and it’s still just a one-man (S)crew officially. Acquiring blanks and learning to heat press the graphics has taken time.
“You have to be exact man, any little mess up in alignment shows, but with COVID I’ve had a good amount of time to learn,” Salas said.
With the mess-ups out of the way, a finalized design, and everything else in place, it’s just been a matter of making them. After a slight delay in the launch, Salas plans to go live with the kits next week. As for what the future plans are? After next week’s release, Salas looks to create more.
“Every club has at least two kits and we’re only at one,” Salas said. “I’m also a huge fan of third kits.”
I think it’s safe to say it’s a good time to buy stock in Screwston FC. Salas isn’t the first person to start a project like this, but few tie their entire look so closely to a city. To be clear, anyone can rock these, there is no requirement to be from or even know Houston — but if you know, you know…you know? Similar to its namesake, Screwston FC is creating its own path by doing something that no one else in Houston has, and you’re damn right it’s for the city, by the city.
Photos courtesy of Screwston FC.
Follow Screwston FC on Instagram to stay up to date with next week’s planned release.