With the 2020 MLS season on hold due to COVID-19, we’re looking back through the history of MLS and FC Dallas in particular.
This week, as follow up to the preseason ranking of FC Dallas home kits, I’ll give my personal ranking of 25 seasons worth of FC Dallas away kits.
2005 was a landmark year in the history of the club. Not only did the club completely rebrand, going from the Dallas Burn to FC Dallas, they also changed the team’s colors, moving away from red and black and adopting red even more prominently, along with blue and a silver-grey complementary color. It has been lost to the years, but grey featured far more heavily in the early years of the FC Dallas brand, as evidenced by FCD’s first-ever away kit, which was almost completely grey.
This one ranks quite low for me because it is just so boring. There’s no real identity trying to be established here, the FC Dallas red wordmark on the grey does not seem to pop out properly and the white elements on the sides and shoulders don’t add much of anything. Luckily, this kit only lasted a single season and the concept of using grey in the away kit would be greatly improved upon in future seasons.
In my home kit rankings, the 2000 home kit ranked lowest. After getting to see it in broadcast, I’ve since slightly changed that opinion and would rank it a bit higher, but 2000 away kit, built on the same Ajax-esque template, is not improved too much. Probably the most out-there part of the Dallas Burn branding was the “wasabi” green, noted as a tertiary color. For the first four seasons, this green was used relatively sparingly, mostly as an accent piece, but Nike decided to maximize the wasabi for the 2000 kit and it just doesn’t work.
The green is just simply not an attractive looking color when used so prominently and the little details of this kit don’t help either. There was clearly some attempt to make the shorts match up with the side panel on the shirt, but the widths between the two pieces are way off and it produces a strange look. This was the last year that Nike made kits for the club and sadly they did not go out with a bang.
It was tough to find a good action shot of this kit. This was the second Burn kit designed by Mexican sportswear company Atletica and it was very similar to the away kit that preceded it, with the wasabi green elements completely removed from the equation and an all-white aesthetic put into place. This kit really is not particularly ugly or anything, it is just boring.
There are no little design elements that are interesting and pop out within the white and some of the previous elements that defined Burn kits, like collars, have been removed for a more minimal design. Not a stinker by any means, but nothing here to write home about.
The 2001-2002 kit beats out 2003-2004 for keeping some design elements that had become relatively standard with the early Burn kits. The collar here makes for a sharper look than the 03-04 kit and the black side paneling on the shirt is better than the armpit specific paneling on the 03-04 kit; still a relatively boring and uninspired look for the club, especially following up on some of the lovely away kits that the club had just a few seasons prior to this one. Again, much like the 03-04 kit, this is not ugly whatsoever, it is just lacking in anything that makes it interesting.
Other than the 2000 kit, the inaugural Dallas Burn away kit, features the most wasabi green of any other kits from that era. In line with the prevailing design strategy for those inaugural MLS kits, 1996 away kit is ridiculous, featuring the giant hockey jersey-esque flaming horse logo and a crazy design pattern on the shoulders and sides of the jersey. Unfortunately, this crazy design wasn’t even unique as it was a template used by other teams that Nike made kits for, most notably the San Jose Clash. I can appreciate this kit for just being really out there with the design, it definitely earns it points over the kits it ranks ahead of in that aspect, but this thing is pretty ugly.
As the mid-2010s rolled on and the club started to move away from the hoops branding, one of the most unique kits in club history was created for 2017 and 2018, the “Stars at Night” kit. Referencing lyrics from “Deep in the Heart of Texas”, the kit as intended to evoke the imagery of the Texas night sky. I will give them credit, this is not only one of the most unique kits in club history but one of the most unique in league history.
Unfortunately, the execution was left wanting.
The kit has a vertical fade where the bottom starts to lighten up and ends up white, but for some reason, they break that up with blue shorts. The white sleeves and all-white back don’t help the overall look of the kit out much either. Certainly, a solid effort to do something different, but the final product is left wanting.
The 2019-2020 kit is a tougher one to rank due to a variation on the kit that massively improves it my mind. Created as part of a league-wide effort to have each team have one all-white or mostly white kit, the “Reunion” kit claims to be inspired by reunion tower. There are indeed some very subtle diagonal lines running through the top but that’s a stretch, that is just a white kit. Helped by a couple of clever design elements on the sleeve and collar, this is certainly a very clean look. The most common iteration was an all-white look with white shorts and white socks and that’s what I used for the rankings. But I would be remiss to not include a blurb about the alternate look with this one featuring blue shorts. For me, blue shorts make for a very sharp look and if that was how they were most commonly used, this kit would be pushing for the top 5, but unfortunately, that is not the case and the all-whites come in 8th.
The first away kit in the FCD era to feature hoops, the 2006-2007 kit stands out among the rest of the FC Dallas kits. Apparently early on in the FC Dallas era, blue was not considered one of the main colors and for three straight seasons, the away kit was predominantly grey. This kit is a massive improvement on the first FCD away kit, chopping up the all-grey look with grey/white hoops that echo the red/white hoops of the primary kit.
I don’t completely love this kit, and to be honest, it was quite tight between this one and the 19/20 kit for this spot but the grey/white hoops are quite unique in club and league history and I think the look is pretty sharp, I’d love to see the club try to do something similar but with a more modern take. The biggest way to improve this one for me would be to use red socks, not a huge fan of the grey socks on this one.
Yes, those are indeed the Funes Mori twins rocking the 08/09 away kit, I couldn’t resist using this picture once I found it, so apologies for not including the full look here. For the better part of a decade starting in 2006, the away kits for FCD were essentially alternate versions of the home kits, 08/09 marked the first time the club used blue and white hoops, replacing the grey and white hoops from 06/07. This is a kit that, for me, is so close to being an all-time great, but, much like the home kit from these seasons, this kit is ruined by the incredibly bizarre design choice to have a downward slope to the hoops once they hit the sides of the jerseys. This creates a weird kind of “frowny face” hoop design that, for me, ruins what is otherwise a fantastic kit.
I love the red Adidas stripes on the white and this kit probably strikes the best balance between blue and white of any of the blue/white hooped kits, but I just can’t get over those frowny hoops, what were they thinking?
Technically speaking, this kit was actually the home kit for the Burn in 1997, but this article is dominated by other mostly white kits and I included the red version of this kit in my home kit rankings, so we’ll leave it here. To be clear, we are reaching the point where margins between kits are tiny, any of these in the top 5 could swap in and out with one another in my mind. I’m sure many fans will hate me for ranking this kit so low but it is really only for one specific reason, that giant Burn logo.
At least, in this case, it didn’t do the strange thing they did in 1996 where they not only had the giant Burn logo but also had the smaller ones in the typical crest spot, this kit does away with the smaller logo in favor of the giant one. But outside of that, what a beauty this kit. The wasabi green thin stripes combined with the black and red detailing and red numbering makes for a gorgeous kit.
Bonus points as well for being the kit the club wore when they won their first trophy in the 1997 US Open Cup final.
This 2015-2016 kit marks the last time that the club had a kit that featured proper hoops. I’m a big fan of this kit, it is a great modern take on the hoops and I was a big fan of the combination with blue shorts along with those hooped socks that recall the hooped socks from the early MLS days.
This kit also marked the first time since Advocare signed on as a jersey sponsor that the giant toothpaste-esque logo was not used and a more minimal wordmark was used, a massive improvement on what was on the kits from mid-2012 through 2014.
My biggest issue with this kit is it is a bit too white. The hoops abruptly end on the side panel and don’t continue on to the back of the kit much at all, so it can be a bit of a disjointed look at certain angles but as a big fan of the hoops in general, I love this kit, doesn’t hurt that it was worn in two of the best seasons in club history.
The kit worn for the heartbreaking loss in the 2010 MLS Cup final, the 2010-2011 kit is certainly the most blue of all the away kits in club history. I’m a big fan of both this kit and the home version of this kit, which literally replaces all the blue with red. The hoops are no longer frowny-faces like the 08-09 kit and it is a nice, clean, and very sharp look for the club.
I only wish that the hoops extended all the way across the back without the interruption of the blue side panel and the socks are a bit underwhelming, no issue with them being white, but not a fan of the awkwardly placed three stripes. But it is clear that I’m nitpicking, this is a fantastic kit.
To be totally honest, I’m cheating slightly by ranking this kit so highly. Mid-way through the 2012 season, FC Dallas announced its first-ever shirt sponsor in Advocare and added the logo to the kits. The version of those kits with that Advocare logo is certainly not terrible, they are my personal favorite of all the kits that had the big toothpaste logo, but they would fall behind a few of the kits that are ranked lower than this one here. But I like the initial version of this kit so much I couldn’t help but rank it highly.
This kit reintroduced grey to the equation for the first time since 2006-2007 and did it in a really really smart way. Much like previous kits, this kit is an alternate version of the 2012-2013 home kit, but it differs by including the narrow gray horizontal stripes along with some gray on the sleeves.
To me, this is a great way to reintroduce gray into the equation while keeping the general look of the white and blue hoops. Big fan of the blue socks combined here as well. No real complaints with this kit, especially the non-Advocare version.
Much like the 1997 kit, this kit was used as the primary home kit in 1998 and then became the secondary away kit in 1999. For me, it was a real shame that the club went away from the general look in 98 and 99, with both the red and white kits.
There’s just enough of the wasabi green color in this kit to help make it stand out but not so much that it dominates the kit. The collar complements the kit very well along with the hooped socks. 98 and 99 marked the first time that the Dallas Burn wordmark was used instead of the giant horse logo, and it makes the kit look much cleaner and like a proper soccer kit as opposed to a gimmick.
I really can’t find any fault with this kit, it is a beauty and I’d love to see the club’s next away kit make some kind of reference back to this one.
What’s your least favorite? Are my rankings horribly off base or do they line up with your own rankings pretty closely?
Featured Image: MLS