We here at the 91st Minute are big on jerseys. Really big. Like, XXXXXL big. Critiquing U13 club jerseys during Wednesday evening kickabouts? Not below us. Or even close.
Which is why it’s time to take a peek at my pick for the top three soccer jerseys in NCAA Division I soccer on both sides. The criteria here is loose and hits every point on the continuum. Whether that’s a slavish dedication to keeping beautiful tradition alive (UCLA) or a willingness to march into newer horizons and push the boundaries of what’s couth (Maryland). It’s all good so long as your jerseys are.
So let’s take a look under the DriFit curtain. Here are my top three for men’s and women’s as the season ticks over to 2013.
The jersey innovation that’s hit college football with such force is still on the periphery for college soccer. Most schools still roll with a more classic design, mostly because outfitters aren’t pushing much else. You’ll see an occasional pinstripe now and then, but by and large the block color scheme is still overwhelmingly prevalent. The sooner this starts to change, the better.
Nobody is doing more on this front than Maryland. The Terps get major points for the shoulder design, which cascades down the arm like a font of color. It’s also not too busy, which is a feat considering everything happening on the sleeves. Big ups for the number font design as well. When Maryland rolls onto the field, you know. And that wins you points here.
The Tigers are sponsored by Nike, and they’re introducing a familiar hoop design for the 2013 season. It’s an LSU-flavored spin on the current USMNT men’s setup, which plays surprisingly unique considering it’s nearly a direct port. The purple is a fantastic touch. Nobody in the SEC will look better this year.
It’s hard to beat these. The powder blues have long been the classiest thing going in college football. When paired with the gold shorts here, there isn’t a better women’s full kit in the business. When you consider the storied past of the program, the enormity of the jersey, with that iconic number font and all, hits with full force. There aren’t many programs that can deliver a haymaker before the whistle blows. These unis do the trick. Never change, Bruins.
These carry a whiff of Manchester United’s 2012-13 away setup (now similar to the Red Devils’ third kit), which is perfect considering Duke’s unique relationship with the color blue. Duke’s script across the front is understated brilliance, and the green keeper’s kit with the white strip under the ‘Duke’ is as good as it gets. Classy, elegant and streamlined, these reflect the university’s ethos as well as any uniform in the country.
I’ll admit to a love affair with the sash. I was more than sad when the USMNT chose to move away from it after the 2010 World Cup. I think it adds literal dimension to the jersey, framing it beautifully and seamlessly adding another prominent color scheme to the center of the uniform.
Nobody in college soccer rocks the sash with more class than Marquette. Double points for a superb color scheme, a great number font and a club crest that has few equals.
There’s something about the Maryland men decked out in their red, yellow and white checked-shoulder uniform that inspires the uni dreamer in all of us. While tradition still largely reigns supreme on the women’s side, the men are beginning to push the envelope in new ways, and nobody embodies the good side of the force better than the Terps. These alternate unis are as good as it gets in the college game. So fresh, so clean, so good.
You may disagree if tradition, clean lines and staid patterns are your thing. And that’s OK. There’s still a place for those. But for me, ever newer and edgier patterns will continue to thrust teams into the collective consciousness. And nobody’s done that better in men’s soccer in the Uniform Revolution Era than Maryland.
Plus, these boots… My. Word. I want these more than Arsenal fans want a trophy.