Great Moments in US Soccer Hair #2: Alexi Lalas

Former USA defender/rhythm guitarist Alexi Lalas works his way onto our list with his two-pronged attack–flowing ginger mane coupled with a wispy goatee. Lalas would be a candidate with either one, so the combination of the two made him a lock. He’s a natural successor to our first inductee, Tony Meola, because like Meola, he was arguably the most recognizable US player of his era. Everyone knew who Alexi Lalas was.  I had a friend (long red hair and beard) who took a trip to Ecuador in the late 90s, and everywhere he went the locals shouted, “Lalas! Lalas!” Now, I know Alexi was a solid defender and all, but really it comes down to the hair. No one was shouting “Wynalda! Wynalda!” at me when I went to Germany.

Great Moments in US Soccer Hair #1: Tony Meola

We’re gonna start this series off with a no-brainer. Antonio Micheal Meola was the standard-bearer of soccer hair for kids across the nation in the early 1990s. At his peak, he was one of two players the average kid on the playground could name (Pele being the other…Tatu ran a distant third), and I believe that this was almost entirely due to his extravagant mane. The key to Meola’s hair is contrast–the difference in length between the buzzed/spiked top and the flowing back. It’s not a normal hairdo that’s a bit longer in the back. It’s almost completely shorn in front and a good 12 inches long at the business end. That’s nearly a 24 to 1 ratio. Chew on that for a minute.

For this reason, Meola served as inspiration to youth soccer teams everywhere. You couldn’t simply grow out your hair for a month and then shave the front and call yourself a soccer player. It took time and dedication. And for that dedication, we salute Tony Meola today.

Fun fact: Did you know that before Tony Meola was an off-Broadway actor, he was a place kicker for the New York Jets? And before that, he moonlighted as a goalkeeper for the United States soccer team for much of the 90s!

Better know a kit: A history of the modern U.S. soccer jersey

[This retrospective originally ran last year. We recently updated some of the information and added some missing jerseys, so we thought we’d post it again.]

We’re taking a look at the USA men’s soccer jerseys of the last 25 or so years, not only to provide a bit of history, but also as a bit of a refresher before looking toward the future of the USA’s kit. My main complaint about the USA kit is that there’s no continuity. Unlike most national team kits, the design has changed drastically each time adidas or Nike has unveiled their latest designs. Whether it’s red, white, or blue, stripes, sashes or denim, you’ll see below that the designs are all over place. I know that I’m nowhere near the first to say this, but I really think that in order to develop a team identity, we need to have a consistent template for (at least) the home jersey.

I’ve always favored the red jerseys in general. It’s good, bright color for fans to wear. Really, I’d rather have it as our home color, but US Soccer seems hung up on having white home jerseys (which have always seemed kind of bland to me). I guess it’s fitting that the USA would wear whites at home since it’s the traditional home color in most American sports.

Below, we’ve got images of nearly every home and away kit since 1984. I’ve offered a brief commentary and grade for each shirt. Obviously, I’m not attempting to be objective in any way. If you disagree, make it known down in the comments section.

Alright, let’s get started…. Continue reading “Better know a kit: A history of the modern U.S. soccer jersey”

Better know a kit: A history of the modern U.S. soccer jersey

USMNT Jersey 1984-2009

We’re taking a look at the USA men’s soccer jerseys of the last 25 or so years, not only to provide a bit of history, but also as a bit of a refresher before looking toward the future of the USA’s kit. My main complaint about the USA kit is that there’s no continuity. Unlike most national team kits, the design has changed drastically each time adidas or Nike has unveiled their latest designs. Whether it’s red, white, or blue, stripes, sashes or denim, you’ll see below that the designs are all over place. I know that I’m nowhere near the first to say this, but I really think that in order to develop a team identity, we need to have a consistent template for (at least) the home jersey.

I’ve always favored the red jerseys in general. It’s good, bright color for fans to wear. Really, I’d rather have it as our home color, but US Soccer seems hung up on having white home jerseys (which have always seemed kind of bland to me). I guess it’s fitting that the USA would wear whites at home since it’s the traditional home color in most American sports.

Below, we’ve got images of every home and away kit since 1984. I’ve offered a brief commentary and grade for each shirt. Obviously, I’m not attempting to be objective in any way. If you disagree, make it known down in the comments section or in the poll at the end of the post.

Alright, let’s get started…. Continue reading “Better know a kit: A history of the modern U.S. soccer jersey”