You’ll be able to tell it’s an MLS uniform because of the all the black. MLS teams love black.
But thanks to the stripes and the sharp green the club calls “bright verde,” you’ll also be able to tell it’s an Austin FC uniform. And that’s a big part of what the expansion club was going for in designing the jersey unveiled Wednesday.
“How do we make this unique?” asked Austin FC senior VP of marketing James Ruth. “How do you make sure that this kit, when it’s on the field, on the pitch, and people are watching—whether it’s on the stadium or on broadcast—you know it’s Austin FC? You just know it.”
That right there should be gospel around the league. Instead, the opposite inclination prevails: blend in; ignore traditions and trends around the world and instead, ensure almost every game looks like part of the same single-entity whole; get those “fresh and clean,” interchangeable all-black and all-white kits onto the store shelves as fast as possible while pondering the abysmal TV ratings.
But Austin FC has pledged to be different (at least with its primary uniform) because Austin is different. It’s often regarded as an island unto itself in Texas, and that distinctive culture, imagery and economy (portrayed in the release video narrated by minority owner Matthew McConaughey) is as much a part of the city’s brand as the University of Texas, the music and SXSW.
Austin FC, which will take the field next season, wanted to reflect that sense of unique self in its kit by designing something that would be almost uniquely theirs. In Monochrome League Soccer, only the Montreal Impact and Atlanta United wear stripes, and only a small handful of clubs on the planet wear stripes in green and black (Nueva Chicago in Argentina, Sassuolo in Italy, among a few others).
“Brand-wise we feel like it’s fitting for Austin because that’s the identity of this city. It’s about the willingness to stand out and be different. That’s what Austin’s whole identity is built on,” Ruth, who worked at the league office before moving to the Texas capital this year, told Sports Illustrated. "We wanted to create something that felt iconic, that also spoke the language of soccer."
He added, "One of the challenges in North American soccer is the unwillingness to be confident and the unwillingness to take the pathway that you want, [instead of] constantly measuring ourselves versus this club or that club."
Ruth said the jersey will be paired with black shorts and black socks and that a secondary uniform will be unveiled in early 2021. Austin FC will be the city’s first major-league pro sports team. Its new stadium is under construction about eight miles north of downtown.