D.C. United - Washington Diplomats 3rd Jersey (Mood Boards)

Before the start of the 2013 season, MLS announced "Jersey Week" where most teams would unveil their new kits for the coming year (with participation becoming mandatory for all teams in 2014).  I was disappointed to see my local club, D.C. United did not participate and thus far does not appear to have any interest in replacing their third jersey that was retired last year.  So for this project, I've decided to follow my imagination for what a new third might be.

Currently D.C. United is attempting to sort out a new soccer-specific stadium in the District to replace the aging RFK Stadium which the team has called home since 1996.  In this design, I will be attempting to make a kit that ties to the city's soccer heritage and merges the identity of the Washington Diplomats with the established identity of DCU.  From 1974 to 1981, the Diplomats played in the NASL, calling the very same RFK Stadium home.  As with most NASL teams, the Dips featured international talent, including the legendary Johan Cruyff.  The two teams actually share a deeper bond than just city and stadium -- Trinidad and Tobago international, Leroy DeLeon played several seasons for the team and in 2012, his son, Nick DeLeon was drafted by United and finished a stellar rookie season as runner-up for MLS Rookie of the Year.

D.C. United's recent third jersey was a bright red strip worn on special occasions, such as cup matches and friendlies.  For many of their years, the Diplomats wore a bright red kit with a diagonal sash (such as a diplomat might wear) and the team's name displayed front and center.  United has used red as a third jersey color three times in team history and this seems a worthy addition to the team's tradition, as their frequent nickname is the 'Black-and-Red.'  Moreover, the later colors for the Diplomats were the same red, black and white, albeit in different proportions.

Other MLS teams, such as the Portland Timbers and the Philadelphia Union have reached back to NASL or even earlier to find inspiration in their respective cities soccer heritages.  With this project, my goal is to produce a design using the MLS-wide Adidas Formotion jersey system that takes inspiration from Washington, DC's soccer past and present and also merges it with elements and icons of the city itself, representing the team's commitment to staying in town amid its stadium search.

Below I've included several images to explain the influences I will be drawing from.

D.C. United 2011-12 3rd jersey:

Washington Diplomats photos:

Washington Diplomats (1976 kit):

Washington Diplomats (1978 kit):

RFK Stadium:

Flag of Washington, DC:

D.C. United kit evolution (rough):

Johan Cruyff reproduction Diplomats jersey:

Washington Diplomats logos:


Update - 05/01 - Initial Concepts

In exploring both the team's recent 3rd kit and the Diplomats' history, it seemed bright red was the obvious choice for a base color.  In terms of a technical design of the shirt, the thick v-neck and the polo collar style stood out.  Both types have appeared on Dips kits at various times, but I'm personally leaning toward the v-neck version, especially as the team currently has a polo collar on their road jersey.  All versions here feature thick white cuffs, but I'm wondering if more could be done -- the earlier collared (blue) kit I've posted above featured a double red stripe on a white cuff, linking to the DC flag.

The primary design element of the sash is explored in both the white and two-tone varieties.  I'd initially thought that the Adidas stripe theme was the weakest, but it seems to mimic the DC flag (again) in a subtle way.  It still feels a bit busy, particularly with the width of the stripes matching parts of the VW sponsor logo.

Speaking of the sponsor's logo -- I tried both the round badge and the wordmark with the badge.  I've never especially liked when a sash element has a cut through the middle, but it seems like something a modern, sponsored shirt wouldn't be able to escape.

Last, a small detail, but certainly one I would propose, were I working at Adidas to develop this shirt, is the use of the trefoil Adidas logo over the three bars logo that the MLS jerseys currently feature.  It is a match for the original used on the Diplomats' jersey and would be 'period correct' for the them the jersey was attempting to build.


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