Something Old, Something New: Ranking past and current Vancouver Whitecaps kits

The Whitecaps unveiled their 2020 kits last Wednesday night, adding to their hefty collection of MLS strips. Here, Ben Steiner ranks them all, including the brand-new ‘wave’ kit. 

Nine seasons, 11 kits. The Vancouver Whitecaps have had more kits in their MLS history than they did wins last season. 

Wednesday, February 5th saw the club unveil their newest look, with their new secondary kit being announced as the ‘Wave’ Jersey. The 2020 strip marks a return to blue for the club, who had grey secondary jerseys the past two seasons. With the new kit and a rebuilt team, I take a look back and rank the best kits in the first decade of Whitecaps MLS history.

10. The Rain Jersey

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Marco Bustos in the Rain Kit (WhitecapsFC.com)

A Champions League run, USL and MLS playoffs, this kit saw a lot of on-field success. However, from a look standpoint, I really didn’t like it. The triangles were a lot and detracted attention away from the rest of the kit. The crest didn’t pop out, and the polka triangles, combined with the Adidas stripes were near hypnotizing. 

Score 3/10

9. Peaks/ Sky Blue Jersey

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Pa Modou-Kah, now Pacific FC manager in the kit. (WhtiecapsFC.com)

This was a good jersey and is a statement on how good the Whitecaps style has been. On the field, this was the kit that won the blub their first Canadian Championship, as well as their first real attempt at the MLS Cup Playoffs. However, it looks like a glorified training kit. The headshots look ok, but the design doesn’t go below the sponsor name. Good attempt, but just not enough going on.

Score: 4/10

8. Arbutus Brown 

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Striker Sebastien Le Toux in the briefly worn Arbtus Brown (Postmedia)

Here we get into the least worn jersey of them all and likely the most divisive. The team attempted to honour the environment of British Columbia and the Arbutus trees which play such a critical role in the environment. The baby blue trim added a nide “pop” to it, but I failed to understand the need for this kit.

Score: 6/10

7. Diagonal Stripes 

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Nigel Reo-Coker in the diagonal stripes (WhitecapsFC)

This was a decent kit, most of the club’s most successful MLS players were in this strips era, but once again, I wanted more. The general perception of this kit was good. It was simple, sharp and most players wore the tight-fitting cut. This was also the kit that embodied some of the lighter moments in club history, such as when Nigel Reo-Coker reportedly injured himself on a bike rack.

This was the first kit I owned, and it looks better than the previous ones on the list, although I think the ones ranked above are well deserving.

Score: 6.5/10

6. 2011 Original Hoops

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Barry Robson disagreed with a referees call (Postmedia)

The club debuted in this kit, its always going to be important to the supporters, but it was very mediocre. Reo-Coker didn’t play in this one, so, unfortunately, the mantra of “Mediocre Reo-Coker” didn’t fit. 

There are a lot of people who like the multiple hoops, but to me, it just looked to plain. Unlike the Rain Jersey, it’s not giving out “training kit” vibes, but it’s just a very boring shirt for matchdays.

Score 7/10

5. Unity Kit

Michaell Chirinos in the Unity kit this past season (Keveren Guillou)

Taking a page from the kit above, the recently retired “Unity Jersey” did a good job at everything it tried to do. The sublimated pattern was visibly pleasing and more imminent than it was in the 2011 jersey.

The kit was designed to commemorate the Vancouver engineers and construction workers who lost their lives building the first version of the Second Narrows bridge. It’s sublimated design, and the “Steel Grey” colour, brought attention to the Memoriam in a gentle way. Like the “Arbutus Brown” kit, it was diffferent, having again strayed away from the club’s colours. One thing it did have going for it was that it could be worn as a fashionable t-shirt, as it didn’t pop out like many other jerseys.

Funny enough, Canadian rivals Toronto FC named their 2020 kit as the Unity Kit as well. 

Score 7/10

  1. Waves Jersey 
Lucas Cavallini in the brand-new Wave kit (WhitecapsFC)

The newest addition to the brand is very solid. I love the waves on the jersey and it is a clear evolution of the sublimated pattern which we have seen in the past. The deep blue primary colour is exquisite, and the baby blue trim is very visible against it. Once again, the filter oft he jersey encapsulated the logo, and for this one, it works very well

Despite all of the positives, I do have a few issues with it. The three stripes on the right shoulder, although mandated by the league really draw away from it. I don’t know the technicalities, but if they could have put the same thing on the left shoulder, it would be better. I like symmetry on jerseys, or if not symmetry, then progression works too, however, this jersey doesn’t offer any of those.

Score 7.5/10 

  1. 40-year anniversary Deep Blue
Russell Teibert battles with Jermain Defoe for a loose ball in Canadian Championship action (Canada Soccer)

At this point, the decisions became really difficult. I absolutely love these kits. They are very similar to the original blue jerseys, but these are a lot sharper. The silver text was fantastic and added a royal feel to the team. These jerseys brought the club to the playoffs and saw a fair share of on-field success. This was also one of the few recent jerseys to have the three-stripes down the shoulders and sleeves, something which looks silky to me. Overall, this was a great look. The colour and trim were both sharp, and so were many of the players who dawned it.

Score 8/10

  1. The return of the hoop 
Theo Bair rocking the hoop kit this year (Keveren Guillou)

I love these kits with every bit of kit love I’ve got. Although the hoop form the NASL days doesn’t resonate with me as a young person, these jerseys were some of the best I have ever seen. For one, I liked how they were unique. So often we see plain and similar kits in MLS, but the Whitecaps found something which was truly theirs. The collar was classy, and the full-body hoop was fantastic. While the season that this kit saw was one to forget, at least the Whitecaps looked good whilst losing.

Score: 9.5/10

1. Sea to Sky 

The sea-to-sky in a 2016 ad campaign (WhitecapsFC)

The perfect get up. This was the jersey hat perfectly suited Vancouver and the name of the Whitecaps. At the top, we see the lighter blue of the mountains and the alpine white caps, and it transitions down to the deep blue of the ocean. There is nothing more west coast than this jersey, and everything was nailed.

It didn’t look like a training kit, it had silver trim and a non-disruptive set of Adidas lines. When I first saw this kit, there was no need to “let it grow on me,” it was fantastic from the start and that’s why this is the best jersey the club has had in its MLS tenure.

Score: 10/10

So what do you think of this list of Whitecaps kits? Let us know below. 

Cover Photo: The Canadian Press

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