Over the past two or so years, there has been a beam of happiness amongst all the anguish we’ve collectively dealt with. A source of hope when there has been so much darkness around us from an unlikely cast that has stolen our hearts one by one with a new fan favorite by the week. Of course, I am talking about Ted Lasso.
Kidding aside, the same can be said about the Philadelphia Union. We are truly lucky to have had the Union and their recent rise to be amongst MLS elite to distract us from the absurdity of everything outside of soccer in the recent years. Therefore, the visual connection between the AFC Richmond home jersey and the 2022 Philadelphia Union home jersey feels fitting.
The new home kit, dubbed the “For U” kit, is a classy design that gives a respectful nod to the past while stating that it represents something new. That’s what this kit does. The main design feature is a solid light blue stripe with gold trim that sits behind the crest and goes down the left side of the jersey, not too dissimilar to that of the fictional Greyhounds, given some slight adjustments to the color scheme. It is not a revolutionary design, it’s a classic one.
While not the full center-striped remake that some may have wanted, the 2022 home kit feels like something way more fitting to the current Union who have become a sleeker and more modern franchise since the wide center-stripe was donned by the Union. Rather than take steps back to an older, albeit memorable, look, the new home kit pushes the Union brand forward. The Union have moved their brand into new territories with the same incremental progression and success as we see the team’s season by season results on the field. This is an especially commendable feat when you start to look around MLS and see countless rebrands or fizzled out brands that struggle to resonate with their respective cities. The 2021 away jersey was a smash hit with the boldness in both colors and visual design. The 2022 home jersey might be a smaller step in the brand’s trajectory than last year, but it achieves great balance in looking forward while also respecting what was in the past.
I have the privilege of being a part of the Union Creative Council that gets to sit in on meetings amongst other fans and provides as much feedback as possible to make Union jerseys. The process is very restricted by Adidas and, for this kit, was extremely disrupted by the pandemic, as group meetings in-person weren’t possible for most of the window of the kit’s design cycle. One bit of feedback that I feel is worth sharing, from the discussion around this kit that I was able to be a part of, there was split opinions on the center stripe. While I don’t necessarily disagree with those who wish to have it back on our home kits, the center stripe jerseys are not the first ones I reach for when I go to put on a Union jersey from my closet filled with what some would say too many Union jerseys.
Rather than the center stripe, the stripe you see on this year’s jersey is a visual representation of the base of the primary Union logo, the navy shield that contains the iconic snake and Union wordmark sits on a solid light blue vertical stripe bordered by gold. You can see the 2022 design is essentially an extension of this element. Paired with gold shoulder stripes and as well as gold trims on the sleeves and color, it is an extremely cohesive look and the strongest Union home jersey we’ve seen in a long time.
The cherry on top is that we get a gold treatment of the sponsor logo, Bimbo, that is given a navy stroke so as to still be readable on top of the left stripe while not breaking up the stripe itself. Since 2019, there has been steady progress in making the sponsor logo less and less obtrusive and this feels like the end result of that work. It goes a really long way and is much appreciated, especially given the contention that comes with the sponsor’s name.
The lightning bolt backtag of the home kit offers a link to the beloved BY|U away kit and I believe the pairing of these two kits give the Philadelphia Union about as strong a duo as the starting center backs we’ll see on opening day in Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott. This is just my take and I’m sure there will be plenty of opinions on the jersey, some very different from this one, and that’s great. There are no wrong opinions and you don’t have to like the jersey, so long as you disagree—you know—respectfully. As for me, I can’t wait to be rocking this jersey amongst you all in Subaru Park this upcoming season.