Hawkeye15

MLS 2022 by Hawkeye15 (Keeper Kits and Extras)

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In 2022, MLS expands to a 30-team league. And in my alternate reality, signs Nike as a league-wide sponsor! The league has so much design potential, and also has many clubs that need facelifts. In this series, I give the league an overhaul. Every team gets 3 inspired, non-templated jerseys. I have also designed 4 from-scratch logos and made edits to a few others.

 

I also have a thorough plan for the logistics of a 30-team soccer league. Schedules. A playoff structure. But first, a league this size needs to group teams somehow. Because it allows for a (not balanced, but) formulaic schedule, I follow the lead of the other American sports and implement divisions.

 

Divisions

Here’s a map of the chosen divisions, where each division consists of 5 teams. I also took the liberty of selecting Phoenix as the destination for the 30th team instead of Charlotte. Sorry Charlotte.

 

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Implementing divisions with the scheduling structure I’m about to outline keeps local rivalries stoked and creates competition for division championships within the main competition. Scheduling a 30-team soccer league is tricky. A double round robin as is done in the big European soccer leagues would mean 58 games (way too much) and a single round robin would mean 29 games (not quite enough, MLS uses 34 and that’s probably specified in the union contract). Here’s how I create a formulaic 34-game schedule:

  • Each team plays every non-divisional team once (25 games)
  • Each team play every divisional team twice (8 games)
  • Each team plays an additional game against a rival (1 game) … here’s the listing: (POR & SEA, VAN & PHX*, RSL & COL, LAFC & LAG, SAC & SJ, HOU & FCD, AUS & NAS*, STL & SKC, MIN & CHI, CLB & CIN, PHI & NE*, NYCFC & NYRB, TOR & MON, DC & ATL, ORL & MIA) *not really a rival and would be a second match against this team instead of a third

 

It’s also necessary to balance travel. I do this by using north/south corridors. For example, LAFC will play 10 games against the Northeast and Southeast divisions. 5 of those games will be at home and 5 will be on the road. Same for games against the North and South divisions. Then every year, each team plays the same set of teams, with the home/road designations flipping from year to year.

 

Playoffs

MLS currently uses a single-game knockout playoff, which is odd considering MLS Cup is agreed upon as the most important trophy. I would change that in a way that helps better-performing teams reach MLS Cup. I also dial back the number of playoff teams to 12, with division winners qualifying automatically. The playoffs will have 3 stages: a group stage, a two-legged semifinal stage, and MLS Cup. Here’s how it works.

  • 12 teams are placed into four 3-team groups based on overall points, with seeds grouped together as (1,8,9),(2,7,10),(3,6,11), and (4,5,12) … each team gets two games and the higher-seeded team always hosts … only one team in the group advances
  • The lower seeded teams play first (8,9), (7,10), (6,11), (5,12) … then the lowest seeded team plays the top-seeded team in the second match of the group stage unless the lowest seed won the first match … then the top seeded team plays the remaining team in the final match (this setup makes the final group-stage match a group-decider  in almost all scenarios)
  • After the group stage, four teams remain … the lowest seed remaining is matched up with the highest seed remaining … two legs in the semifinal
  • MLS Cup is hosted by the highest seed remaining

I simulated a hypothetical playoff based on the 2019 league table to show how it might look:

Spoiler

** results are the most recent result of this fixture **

Group Stage

Group A : Los Angeles FC (1), LA Galaxy (8), Toronto FC (9)

            Match 1: Toronto FC @ LA Galaxy … 2-0 LA

            Match 2: Toronto FC @ Los Angeles FC … 1-1

            Match 3: LA Galaxy @ Los Angeles FC … 5-3 LAFC … LAFC advances

 

Group B : New York City FC (2), Real Salt Lake (7), DC United (10)

            Match 1: DC United @ Real Salt Lake … 3-2 RSL

            Match 2: DC United @ New York City FC … 0-0

            Match 3: Real Salt Lake @ New York City FC … 4-0 NYCFC … NYCFC advances

 

Group C Atlanta United (3), Minnesota (6), Portland Timbers (11)

            Match 1: Portland @ Minnesota … 1-0 MIN

            Match 2: Portland @ Atlanta … 2-0 ATL

            Match 3: Minnesota @ Atlanta … 3-0 ATL … ATL advances

 

Group D : Seattle Sounders (4), Philadelphia Union (5), FC Dallas (12)

            Match 1: FC Dallas @ Philadelphia … 2-1 PHI

            Match 2: FC Dallas @ Seattle … 4-3 SEA

            Match 3: Philadelphia @ Seattle … 1-0 PHI … PHI advances

 

Semifinals

Los Angeles FC @ Philadelphia … 1-1

Philadelphia @ Los Angeles FC … 3-3 … PHI advances on away goals

 

New York City FC @ Atlanta … 2-1 ATL

Atlanta @ New York City FC … 4-1 NYCFC … NYCFC advances

 

MLS Cup

Philadelphia @ New York City FC … 4-2 NYCFC

 

I will go division-by-division, starting with the North Division. Before I started working on this, I had never designed a logo myself and I had only designed maybe a single uniform. So with that in mind, I want to thank you for any comments and help as we go along.

 

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Here is the first look at the North division:

 

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Chicago Fire: brand new logo that leans back towards the Fire imagery with the shape of the badge as well as an axe and sledgehammer ... the colors and six-pointed stars are drawn from the Chicago flag ... my aim was to design a logo whose features are still readily apparent when shrunk down and placed on a uniform, which draws on Chicago imagery, and makes the Fire red again

Columbus Crew: no changes

FC Cincinnati: changed the darker blue outline to the same shade of royal blue

Minnesota SC: dropped the "United" moniker in the name, there's already too many Uniteds in MLS and it holds no meaning for a team that ought to just be called the Loons at any chance ... refocused the color scheme to a base white color with a black secondary which is unique to MLS and is consistent with the Loon emphasis ... recolored the badge accordingly to let the well-designed Loon stand out

Philadelphia Union: removed the gradient in the gold coloring of the logo

 

 

 

 

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Excited to see how this goes, I agree that MLS is one of the kings of wasted potential design-wise. 
 

Right now, the only thing I can really say is that while your fire logo is MILES better than their new logo, it seems overly saturated with red. Most of the logo gets somewhat lost with the red background, but it’s a good start. Maybe broaden the outline or throw a bit more of the sky blue in there. 

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Big shame you kicked Charlotte out, your presentation is great and I'd love to see you tackle the Queen City. Anyway, your new Fire logo has the right shape but I agree that there's too much red there. It's really bright and I think it really doesn't need to be. MNSC looks nice, love the emphasis on the Loon, however it feels weird to use a six-pointed star for a team in the same division as a Chicago team that emphasizes the Chicago flag. The removal of the Union gradient is also a big upgrade. Overall a great start and I can't wait to see how this continues!

 

(Quick aside, did you kick out Charlotte because of the divisions? I don't blame you, but I still would like to see a Charlotte concept from you.)

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Here are a couple of variants of the Chicago logo that bring a bit more blue into it. I wanted blue to be a small part of the logo, since the identity itself will be mostly red and white. But let me know if you think these are improvements. I think I prefer the middle one but am open to more suggestions.

 

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Charlotte is not included for a couple reasons. I started this project before they were named the 30th team. And yes, the division system works much better geographically with Phoenix. I also just love the design potential that a Phoenix team has. I might play around with star shapes for the "north star" in Minnesota's logo. It doesn't need to be a six-point star.

 

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The lack of blue makes more sense if the identity is supposed to be only red and white, but as it stands, the blue only serves as a distraction. I'd suggest completely removing the blue if you're not going to use it much or maybe making the stars blue instead of the outline.

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Looks good so far. Not sure about the too many United claim. There's only 3 and out of all of them I think MNUFC has the best claim for it since it is a whole state united not just a city like DC or Atlanta.

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Toronto in the North would minimize travel, but I wanted to keep Toronto and Montreal in the same division.

 

Here's the Chicago Fire:

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  • The primary is meant to be a more basic design, but features sublimated diagonal stripes from a fire truck
  • The secondary is clearly an homage to the Chicago flag, and the horizontal band across the chest a nod to the Fire's identity of the past.
  • The third is clearly inspired by a fireman's protective equipment.

 

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Fire home shirt needs a band across the middle of it.

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Here's the Columbus Crew:

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  • If the Crew want to have the checkers as really the only feature of their crest, they might as well lean heavily into it in terms of kit design. So I do that on both the primary and secondary. The primary also pulls in the diagonal stripes from the crest. 
  • The secondary fades from black to dark grey with the big checkers and has dark grey shorts and black socks.
  • The third is inspired by the Columbus flag. Compare this to the abomination they came up with a few years ago trying to do this: https://i2.wp.com/footballfashion.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/columbus-crew-2016-away-adidas-jersey-5.jpg?ssl=1

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Easily one of the best crew concepts I have seen in a while. 

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Exactly what the Crew needed. They need the checkered pattern, but you made it more minimal on the jerseys. Love it.

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Great work on both the uniforms and the presentation, with the schedule, it looks amazing

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Thanks for all the comments so far.

 

Here's FC Cincinnati:

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  • I wanted the primary jersey to feature blue and orange heavily as opposed to using orange as an accent color. That's the way the logo treats the two colors, so I wanted to go that route. And while a sash won't be entirely unique, the angle of the sash will be unique to Cincinnati and the split colors of the shirt will be quite unique as well.
  • Since the primary looks like a modern design, I wanted the secondary to have a more classic feel to it. So it features sublimated lions that have a sheen to them with a dated design on the cuffs and collar.
  • The third jersey draws from the Cincinnati flag for both colors and the buckeye leaf, which is sublimated in the red striping.

SLkBkyY.png

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For Columbus I'd use an updated version of their 1996 aways instead of the city colors. Fans are not good with anything related to that kit. 

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On to Minnesota SC:

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  • Despite gray being so unique, it can look quite drab on Minnesota and even with a big wing on it, the wing doesn't stand out as much as it should. A white shirt makes the wing stand out, it brings black and white scheme to a team called the Loons as well. That was the goal here.
  • The blue shirt is a nod to Minnesota's NASL days and features the same wing, sublimated in this case.
  • The green shirt is a nod to the North woods. I think green works well for Minnesota-based sports teams (sans Vikings).

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I would love to get feedback on both Cincinnati and Minnesota.

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