With the new FC Dallas “Legacy kit” for the 2020 and 2021 seasons being released earlier this week.
Let’s take a look back at 25 years of FC Dallas home kits and rank them from personal least favorite to personal favorite.
This kit isn’t necessarily terrible but it marked an awkward time where Dallas seemed to struggle with a defined identity and decided to just copy Ajax.
I don’t think it works particularly well with the template they used, the middle red section on the top is so wide that the black is almost completely on the player’s sides. Not a huge surprise that this kit only lasted a single season.
The final Dallas Burn kit prior to the rebrand to FC Dallas and also the kit worn during the infamous season played at Dragon Stadium in Southlake, the 2003-2004 kit is just…uninspired. The overall look of the kit isn’t bad at all with the red top, black shorts and red socks but the kit is just so basic and boring it is hard to rank it above any others.
There’s no clear design philosophy going on here besides the colorway and this kind of kit helps illustrate why the Dallas Burn struggled to make a mark in a crowded Dallas sports landscape.
The first of two home kits made by Atletica, the 2001-2002 kit is another relatively boring and uninspired kit. After the late ’90s under Nike, there seemed to be a move to something more simple, but Atletica went a bit too far into the simple in my opinion.
This kit edges out Atletica’s second effort due to the lack of that unnecessary black detailing on the top and the presence of the polo collar, which gave it a bit of character that the subsequent kit lacked.
It may be controversial to have the club’s inaugural kit so low but there’s simply too much happening for me with this kit. Very typical of the initial MLS kit designs, the kit looks more like a hockey jersey than anything else. The design on the sleeves doesn’t make much sense to me and I’m not a huge fan of having the fire-breathing horse be so prominent on the front of the kit. It edges out the Atletica kits and the 2000 rendition because at least they were going for something original but original doesn’t necessarily mean great.
The 2014-15 kit marked the first time since rebranding to FC Dallas that the club did not use red and white hoops on the home kit, instead opting for a hoop-esque pattern with red tones all the way through. This kit is simply too red for me and comes across as a poor attempt to move away from the red/white hoops that characterized the club for almost a decade prior. With white or blue shorts this may have come across much better but the all-reds go down as my least favorite kit since the FCD rebrand.
Another Burn kit begins our top 10. I generally like this kit! It is a huge improvement on the original 1996 design, doing away with the weird sleeves and going to a thin horizontal. But similar to the 1996 kit, for me, the Burn logo is just way too big and takes up way too much space on the front of the kit.
If it was pared down to what we saw on subsequent kits, this would likely by me favorite of the Burn era.
At this point, we’re getting into the category of me generally liking every kit from here on out. The deconstructed Texas flag concept was interesting. It was clear that there was a direction to emphasize Texas in the branding around this time period as in 2018 this kit was paired with the “Stars at Night” kit. Unlike the 2014-15 kit, this kit completely does away with even any reference to hoops.
That said, I’ll give the designers some props here on trying something different and, for the most part, pulling it off, though white shorts would have made this look a lot better.
The 2005 kit marked a lot of firsts for the club. The first season in their own soccer-specific stadium, first season existing as FC Dallas and the first season with Adidas creating the kits. It also, most obviously, introduced a staple of the home kits that would remain in place for almost a decade: the red and white hoops. Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of the red/white hoops and I think it was a major mistake to move away from that by the club.
The inaugural hoops are ranked lowest of this design simply due to some of the enforced designs here. The front of jersey numbers that were typical in the early MLS days takes away from the design for me along with some of the Adidas design elements that were typical of the era.
Number 7 brings us to the new kit for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The “Legacy kit” marks a return to hoops, this time introducing red and blue hoops on roughly half the kit and also blue shorts for the first time on a home kit. The EQT branding that is being used across all new MLS kits for the 2020 season isn’t great, it feels like a poor attempt to do something “retro” for the 25th anniversary season.
Thankfully, it isn’t terribly done here and when putting the kit all together with socks and shorts I think it is quite sharp and will look great. An improvement on the sponsor for 2021 could push it even higher in the long term.
A clear follow up to the red on red hoops from the 14-15 kit, the 16-17 kit massively improved on that idea by introducing small white pinstripes throughout the kit to emphasize the more low-key hoops. Additionally, this marked the first home kit with the smaller Advocare logo, moving away from the giant toothpaste-esque logo used on previous kits.
Of course, this kit is also wrapped up in some of the best FC Dallas moments in the club’s history as it was kit worn when hoisting the US Open Cup as well as the Supporters’ Shield in 2016.
My personal favorite of the Burn era, the 1998-99 kit corrected the big issue I had with the 1997 kit and removed the giant fire-breathing horse from the front of the kit, moving to a more streamlined word mark of Dallas Burn. This kit is great, it has a defined identity with the black pinstripes and has the added detailing of the polo collar.
There’s not a lot else to say here, it is just a very clean, sharp look that the club really should have tried to stick with beyond the 98-99 season.
At this point, I’m finding it very hard to pick and choose between these kits as I think they are all some of the best FCD has ever had and only small nitpicks really separate them for me.
The 2008-2009 kit tried to introduce a bit of blue into the mix. I like the blue on the bottom of the shorts, but I’m not a big fan of the blue Adidas stripes on top of the red shoulders. Additionally, the hoops do this weird kind of contoured bend around the players’ sides that I don’t love but overall this is a quality kit.
The 06-07 kit was the second home kit following the rebrand and improved on some of the issues with the original version of the red/white hoops. Some of the more garish Adidas elements are gone and replaced by much more visually appealing elements. The FC Dallas wordmark on the front is smaller and cleaner.
The only thing that drags this kit down slightly for me is the presence of the player’s number on the front of the kit but outside of that, this kit is quality.
Another kit with real quality, the 12-13 kit adds a little extra detail to the hoops by introducing small white pinstripes just within the margins of the red hoops. At this point, Adidas had fully abandoned the majority of their forced design elements and were creating much simpler and cleaner kits, and it really paid off with this kit.
This is one that I still see regularly worn at FCD games, attesting to its longevity and popularity with the fanbase. Personally, I’m not in love with the pinstripes, I’d prefer a simpler, straight forward hoop design, but otherwise, this kit is a huge hit.
Speaking of a simpler, straight forward hoop design, 2010-2011 is about as close to a perfect FC Dallas kit as you can get in my mind. Gone are the weird design elements that brought down earlier kits and instead the kit is a very simple red/white hoop pattern. The whole thing looks very clean, very distinct within MLS and doesn’t rely on any weird gimmicks to try to stand out.
The only slightly negative for me is the weird placement of the Adidas logo but in my opinion, this kit should be the basis on which all FC Dallas kits are created and something similar to what LA Galaxy have done with their sash should be done with the red/white hoops for the future. Make slight adjustments here and there but don’t mess with greatness!
What are your favorite and least favorite FC Dallas kits?
Do you think my rankings were terrible and I have terrible taste or did I get pretty close to your thoughts as well?
Featured Image: FC Dallas