Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here We Go Again

I am back from the dead, roused from all-consuming ennui by yet another new uniform design from US Soccer. For the first time in US soccer history, the men and women will be wearing the same jerseys, they said. Saints be praised, I said. If the nurse uniforms are history, I'm happy, I said, envisioning both Deuce and Baby Horse sporting some sleek, clean, classy threads.

Then they actually released photos, and my brain went *poof* again.

The one on top is the women's shirt. Leaving aside, for the moment, the facts that (1) no post-adolescent woman willingly puts herself into wide horizontal stripes because (2) they make her look like an overgrown ten-year-old boy unless (3) she's a giant lesbian who says fuck it, I enjoy looking like a growth hormone-addled barber pole (*waving hand* but not for $149, I don't think), I see a big problem here. Look at the two pictures again and see what's different between them, aside from the marginally visible boobs in the one on top.

When two uniforms are slightly different, we look at the unifying elements for the message of what is official US capital-S Soccer. What do they share? Giant hoops, check. US Soccer crest, check. Sublimated sash, che... wait, what? Yes. Both shirts have a faint diagonal sash running from upper right to lower left (although it looks more like a laundry accident on the home shirts, it's boldly black on the away version). The sash, of course, was introduced to the last iteration of the men's kit to commemorate the 1950 US team that managed to beat England 1-0 in a first-round World Cup match, which was the last US World Cup win until 1994 (and its last qualification until 1990).

Okay, that was a big deal, a ragtag group of scruffy Americans beating the Brits at their own game, although it can't help but also be a tale of nearly a half-century of futility. But whatever. Yay 1950, fair enough. So since both teams are wearing the YAY 1950 sash, they surely must both be wearing something to commemorate the women's team's decades of domination, including two World Cup championships and three Olympic gold medals, right? Perhaps the traditional two stars above the crest, one for each World Cup trophy, just like the Brazilian women wear five stars for their men's side's WC championships?

Ah, no. Checking the pictures very carefully, it appears that they do not. So the official design suite for United States soccer is hoops, a crest, a swoosh, and a sash that's a smudge on one shirt and funereal on the other (black in mourning for the U23 men's failure to make it out of CONCACAF and into the Olympics, perhaps) because we need to remember that the men's team won a game once, in 1950. The women can put stars on their own shirts, but the men don't need to be bothered with them. Because if they had stars, someone might think they were wearing the women's jersey, and that would just be wrong.

Stay awesome, US Soccer.