The 2017 MLS season kicked-off earlier this month and features the long awaited debut of Atlanta United and Minnesota United. This year every team revealed new kits with 2 returning clubs featuring new front of the jersey sponsors as well. And of course the 2 newcomers have new sponsors. Soccer365 takes our annual look around the league at the front of the jersey sponsorships off every MLS club.
Let’s begin with the new sponsors. Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City were the only teams that changed the logo on the front of the jerseys, introducing Acura and Ivy Investments for the new season. Atlanta United and Minnesota United announced American Family Insurance and Target as their main sponsors during the off-season, adding two new names to the history of MLS front-of-jersey sponsors.
The rest of the clubs are in the middle of long-term agreements or extended the deals with their current partners, which gives us the following outlook:
Automotive: Acura – Columbus Crew
Entertainment: Xbox – Seattle Sounders
Financial Services: American Family Insurance – Atlanta United, Transamerica – Colorado Rapids, BMO Financial – Montreal Impact, BMO Financial – Toronto FC, Ivy Investments – Sporting Kansas City
Food/Drink: Red Bull – New York Red Bulls, Bimbo Bakery – Philadelphia Union, LifeVantage – Real Salt Lake
Healthcare/Beauty: Advocare – FC Dallas, Herbalife – LA Galaxy, UnitedHealthCare – New England Revolution, Orlando Health – Orlando City SC, Sutter Health – San Jose Earthquakes
Home Improvement: Valspar – Chicago Fire
Natural Resources: BHP Billiton – Houston Dynamo
Retail: Target – Minnesota United
Security/Technology: Leidos – D.C. United
Telecommunications: Bell Canada – Vancouver Whitecaps
Transportation: Ethidad Airways – New York City FC, Alaska Airlines – Portland Timbers
Just like last year, most clubs continue to receive between $3-$4 millions each year just in jersey sponsorship. The price is a great value for the brands who become allies in the eyes of club fans and getting considerable exposition in social media, newspapers and television. The 2016 MLS Cup final game, which saw Seattle Sounders crowned as champions, set a new viewership record with more than 3.5 million viewers in the US and Canada tuning in to watch, a 177 percent increase over the 2015 edition.
Game attendances also experienced an all-time high, with 27,790 fans per game during the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup. Social Media consumption set records as well, showing the evident growth of MLS in North America.
Let us dive into this year’s jerseys for each club, looking at their design and front sponsors. Images courtesy of MLS Soccer.
The new kids in the block impressed everyone (even their own players) with the titanic hype built around their MLS debut last weekend against New York Red Bulls. Their first home game sold-out, with more than 50,000 souls showing their support for Atlanta United. The club scored a multi-year deal with American Family Insurance for an undisclosed fee, which sees the company’s logo printed on their first ever home and away jerseys.
As newcomers, Atlanta United revealed both home and away kits. The home jersey is classy design inspired by the club’s core values and colors, while the away shows an urban concept inspired by the city.
The Men in Red are in the second year of their 3-year agreement with Valspar, which replaced Quaker last year as the jersey front sponsor. The club kept the vibrant red kit launched last year, but unveiled a brand new away jersey inspired by the gray center of their logo.
The Rapids extended their existing deal with Transamerica through 2019, which was initially planned to last for two years during 2015 and 2016. The logo now features in a text-only company logo on both home and away kits. The primary jersey carries on from last year, while the eye-catching yellow secondary look was revealed this year.
Also read: Top 5 MLS Jerseys of 2017
Columbus Crew unveiled their new home jersey along with new sponsor Acura. The auto manufacturer and the clubs struck a 3-year deal that became the most profitable in the club’s history, with the financial terms kept under wraps. Acura possesses two plants in Ohio, and they took their local connection to the club and its fans to a new level.
“This isn’t just a local investment,” Acura Assistant VP of Marketing and Operations Tom Peyton said. “Certainly we’re able to have an identity here, but it’s wonderful to go to other key markets for Acura … and have that local and TV exposure that goes along with that. MLS has a real opportunity by being able to sell that opportunity.”
The brand had been keeping an eye on MLS for years, and they hope their partnership with Columbus Crew is a successful one. The home kit saw the return of fan-favorite yellow, with last year’s black jersey becoming the alternative look while also being updated to show the Acura logo.
DC United are in the second year of their 3-year extension with Leidos, which has a good chance to be projected for a few more years thanks to the good relationship between the club and the defense company. Their home black kit is the same they used through 2016, while a bold away kit inspired by eagle’s feathers was launched earlier this year.
Dallas will continue to exhibit the Advocare logo through the 2020 season after a contract extension in 2014. Their home kit retains the classy look from last year, while the new away jersey is heavily inspired by the song ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’.
BHP Billiton continues as partner for the Dynamo during 2017, with a 2-year option on the horizon. Their new home jersey brings back space blue details, while keeping the iconic orange base. The black and orange away kit launched in 2016 is kept as the alternative look.
LA Galaxy and Herbalife continue to enjoy their 10-year deal, the longest-running in MLS and the highest paid, according to existing information and rumors. The home kit from last year continues to be used in 2017, while a cool looking secondary option was revealed last month.
Retail giant Target has put a bet on soccer, agreeing separate deals with the league and debuting club Minnesota United for the years to come. The exact duration and economic details of the partnership with MNUFC have not been revealed, but it is estimated that they remain similar to what’s been seen in other clubs. They took part in the league opener this year, suffering a heartbreaking 5-1 defeat at the hands of Portland Timbers. Time will tell if their performances are decent enough for MLS level.
On jersey territory, the club revealed both home and away kits, featuring Target’s iconic bullseye logo as main sponsor. The home is gray, with a sky blue diagonal stripe running on the front, while the away jersey is presented in white with gray and blue applications.
Montreal Impact and BMO Financial have extended their previous 5-year partnership for an undisclosed fee and duration, signaling a good relationship between the two parties. The new away jersey is clean white, with embossed stripes and inspiration in Montreal. The nice looking blue and black kit from last season will stand out on the fields one more year.
New England Revolution
The Revs and United HealthCare continue their healthy partnership in 2017. The home kit is the same they used in 2016, while a new away jersey in red and white halves was revealed a few weeks ago, featuring a simpler variation of the UHC logo on the front.
New York City FC
NYCFC comes from a historic season, where they reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in their short history. Etihad Airways continues to be their main sponsor in a deal that is running on its third year of a 5-year agreed duration. The new home kit draws inspiration from New York, its boroughs and its flag. The psychedelic alternate look from 2016 will shine once again in MLS competition.
New York Red Bulls
The other NYC team continues to showcase their owner’s logo on the front, a situation that’s not likely to change in the near future. The new home jersey is inspired by the city’s architecture and the club’s aggressive play style. The blue away kit is the same form last season.
Orlando Health has been a key partner for Orlando City since their USL Pro days, with their current deal running through 2021. The club
is not only enjoying a fresh home jersey, but is also celebrating with the official inauguration of their own home ground, in which they beat New York City FC in an emotional game.
Bimbo remains as main sponsor for the Union despite some rumors that claimed a change was coming last year. The new away kit features a clean look in white, blue and gold, with the snake-inspired home jersey remaining unchanged.
Alaska Airlines and Portland Timbers’ deal was set to finish in 2016, but it looks like an extension has been agreed. With no details published, it’s safe to claim that the club, airline and fans have enjoyed their time together, so their continued relationship comes as no surprise. The new home kit features a classy look, with a plaid pattern taken from lumberjack shirts.
Real Salt Lake
The 10-year deal with LifeVantage continues to run with no problems, meaning that we won’t see a sponsor change for RSL at least until 2024. The new away kit introduced a simple look with white base and embossed pinstripes and blue detailing as an alternate to the existing red home uniform.
San Jose Earthquakes
The Quakes and Sutter Health reached an agreement last year that is rumored to be on of the best among MLS clubs; The duration and yearly income are unknown to the public. The latest SJ home look features a striking pattern inspired by the club’s crest and the return of black as main color.
The Sounders finally broke the spell and lifted their first MLS Cup trophy. The club launched a new away jersey inspired by the original Sounders as a nod to their heritage.
Sporting Kansas City
The switch from Ivy Funds to Ivy Investments has been reflected on the Sporting KC jerseys this year. The club will sport the new Ivy logo in both the recently launched home kit and last year’s dark alternative look.
Toronto FC and BMO agreed to a multi-year extension for the jersey sponsorship, which follows the 10-year stadium naming rights deal reached last year. The BMO logo is set to appear in all the TFC gear, including TFC II and TFC III. The partnership also include some upgrades to the club’s home ground, which will feature a renovated north end entrance and multiple bank machines.
The Whitecaps and Bell continue to enjoy their multi-year deal struck back in 2013. The new home jersey is inspired by Vancouver’s rain, represented by numerous blue triangles on the white surface. Last year’s stunning away kit shall be used through this season.
Which are your favorite MLS jerseys this year? Shop the latest MLS gear at World Soccer Shop.