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World Cup 2010 Kits Tournament

June 7, 2010

Time for a World Cup tournament based solely on kits.  For the purposes of this tournament, I use only each team’s home jersey (not including shorts, socks, or other pieces of the uniform).  The tournament is structured the same way as the real World Cup (group + knockout), with the same teams comprising each group.

Here is how the groups shake out (teams listed in order of group finish):

(Scroll down to the bold “KNOCKOUT ROUND” if you want to get past my drivel and on to the good stuff)

Group A:

France (Adidas)- Adidas has mimicked the primary design feature from the 2006 France kit- stripes that start strong on the ribs and disappear into the ether near Franck Ribery’s abs.  I like this feature, and although the 2006 version was better, the 2010 design is strong enough to carry France through to the next round.  The other positive features of the jersey are the always cool FFF chicken emblem on the chest and the old-school red, white, and blue shoulder stripes.  The only downside of the jersey is the out-of-place font.  The numbers and letters look as if they were made from Play-Doh snakes.  The softness of these letters clash with the sharp lines of the design and FFF emblem.

Mexico (Adidas)- Although this jersey is similar to the boring South African jersey maligned below, the texture here saves the jersey.  The green color that dominates the jersey is accented with textured diamonds that evoke the thick leaves of a Yucatan jungle or the costume of an Aztec warrior.

South Africa (Adidas)- South Africa, as the hosts, could have afforded a much bigger risk here.  An airbrushed image of Charlize Theron?  Flank air vents that emit vuvuzela sounds?  Instead, South Africa chose an ordinary-looking yellow design with green Adidas tri-stripes on the arms.  The vents that curve from the abs to the chest give the jersey some decent texture, but overall, this jersey looks like a boring knockoff of the Aussie kit.

Uruguay (Puma)- I get the fact that Uruguay has a cool sun on its flag, but the watermarked suns on a baby blue jersey look like something the Snuggle bear would wear for pajamas.

Group B:

Argentina (Adidas): Great jersey. Argentina has always had a distinctive look with its trademark  thick white and baby blue vertical stripes.  Adidas wisely followed the old “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” mantra here.  The font here that hurts the French kit is an asset for the Argentinian shirt- the Play-Doh letters fit much better with the suave letters of the AFA crest on the chest emblem.

Greece (Adidas): Unless you really got into My Big Fat Greek Wedding, among the first thing that comes to mind when Greece is mentioned is the crisp blue and white buildings that cover the Cyclades Islands.  This jersey captures that very well.  The clean white base and flowing, thin blue lines suit this seafaring nation.

South Korea (Nike): Very cool tiger-stripe watermark that mimics that tiger on the chest emblem.  Visually, this is a great jersey, but in a tough group like this one, Korea falls just short of the knockout stage behind Argentina’s traditional look and Greece’s crisp simplicity.

Nigeria (Adidas): Normally, I love simplicity.  But c’mon, these guys are known as the Super Eagles.  It’s a shame their jersey is so boring.

Group C:

USA (Nike): Uncle Sam’s boys win this weak group running away.  It’s amazing what a simple sash can do for a jersey.  The sash gives the US kit a regal air of “we’ve been here before and we belong here now”.  I especially like the blue away jersey with the white sash, but the white home jersey with the light grey sash is charming as well.  As a bonus, I like the small dots on the numbers that Nike uses here and on other 2010 kits.

Algeria (Puma): I normally dislike Puma kits.  In 2006, they plastered each jersey with 3-4 Puma logos, which was distracting and made for a slew of bad jerseys.  The “Desert Foxes” continue this group’s white home kit theme, and qualify second due to the unique fox watermark on the chest/shoulder of the jersey.  The fox looks creepy, like an extra on the set of Lilo and Stitch, but big props to Puma and Algeria for taking the team’s unique nickname and incorporating it into the jersey.

England (Umbro): I’m normally a huge fan of England’s kits- great Three Lions chest emblem, crisp white color, and St. George’s Cross make for a unique jersey.  I also like Umbro.  Like most kids in my generation who played soccer in the 1990s, I owned a pair of Charlotte Hornet-colored Umbro shorts.  Despite that positive momentum, England’s 2010 kit leaves a lot to be desired.  There’s no St. George’s Cross, so the white, boring jersey ends up looking like a cricket shirt, er kit, er whatever the heck one calls a cricketeer’s top.

Slovenia (Nike): Slovenia’s home jerseys are plain white. Not much else to say.  I know I said that this is only about home kits, but Slovenia’s away kits warrant a quick look.  Two words: good grief.

Group D:

Germany (Adidas): Not bad.  Germany has done some good things and some not-so-good things with its great color scheme (red, yellow, and black) in the past.  This year’s thin, vertical stripes are a nice subtle tribute to these colors, but they don’t overwhelm the jersey like thicker red, yellow, and black stripes of the past.

Serbia (Nike): Although this jersey’s off-center cross is reminiscent of older English kits, I give it a good rating.  Serbia will look distinctive on the pitch in 2010, and this effort barely edges out a strong Ghanan jersey for the second slot in this group.

Ghana (Puma): Again going against my anti-Puma leanings, I find Ghana’s jersey strong.  The star watermark on the shoulder is not as unique as Algeria’s fox, but the Islamic-looking watermark designs on the back are a great touch.

Australia (Nike): Flat.  With bright yellow and green as the staple colors of this jersey, one would hope that Australia could make a jersey as fun as its nickname (the “Socceroos”).  However, despite the coolest chest emblem around (an emu staring down a kangaroo), a layer of green atop a layer of yellow makes this jersey just plain ugly.

Group E:

Netherlands (Nike): Everyone loves the orange Dutch jerseys, including me.  The vertical white stripes (tough to see in the link) are a nice touch, as is the boxy, robotic font on the jersey.

Japan (Adidas): Not a huge fan of this jersey, but it’s enough to get Japan into the round of 16.  The weird red square at the base of neck seems pointless.  The saving grace is the unique watermark, which looks like a paisley scarf and a bunch of broad-winged birds got caught in a blender together.

Denmark (Adidas): It’s “turn back the clock” night in Denmark.  This jersey would fit in better during a Retro Night friendly, not the world’s biggest soccer showcase.

Cameroon (Puma): Weak, crowded jersey.  This jersey is everything I normally hate about Puma jerseys- to many cats.  Look across the top of the jersey from arm to arm.  There are six different emblems/logos to look at, which makes the jersey crowded and unbalanced.

Group F:

New Zealand (Nike): The All-Blacks don’t just play rugby.  Cool, simple jersey that places the Kiwis at the top of Group F.

Italy (Puma): This is better than Puma’s normal Italy jerseys, because it has way fewer pumas prancing around than normal.   But, I am weirded-out by the He-Man ab and chest muscle watermark on this shirt.  Still, enough to get through this weak group.

Paraguay (Adidas): Paraguay will not be the Cinderella of this year’s tourney.  By my count, there are six different sets of stripes on this shirt.  The worst among these sets is the two short “bucktooth” stripes on the lower back of the jersey.

Slovakia (Adidas): Could not find this one.  Tear.

Group G:

Portugal (Nike): Nike knocked this one out of the park.  At first glance, this is a solid jersey whose broad green and red stripes are reminiscent of the Portuguese flag.  After taking  closer look, one notices the alluring dot pattern across the green strip on the chest.  This detailed set of blurry and clear dots mimics the need for focus for this squad that has underachieved in recent cups.

Ivory Coast (Puma):  Les Elefantes barely edge out Brazil’s classic yellows for the second spot in this group. Although the elephant watermark is not as cool as the Algerian desert fox, I like the bold statement made by this orange kit.  Ivory Coast will need to play as bold as this jersey, especially if it hopes to live past 2010’s undisputed “group of death”.

Brazil (Nike): Nothing fancy here, but when you’re the only team out there wearing yellow with five stars above your emblem, you don’t need anything fancy.  This is a strong, simple jersey that’s enhanced by small touches like the green stripes trim.

North Korea (South Pole): These kits have not yet been officially released, but early reports indicate they look like the shirt found in the link above.

Group H:

Honduras (Joma): In a very weak group, Honduras ends up on top.  There are a few too many slashes and curves along the flanks  of this shirt, but I like the chest design- a soothing blue wave that fades in and out to emphasize the Honduran footbal emblem smack-in-the-middle of the shirt.  The prominent Joma logo hinders the overall effect, but overall, the little guy triumphs here are Joma brings in a group winner.

Spain (Adidas): Spain is my favorite non-US squad, but these jerseys are too bland for such an exciting team.  I much preferred Spain’s Euro 2008 jerseys which had elegant thin lines along the flanks of each player.  This jersey has no distinguishing features to carry it through to the next round.

Switzerland (Puma): This Puma offering suffers from the same problem as Cameroon.  There are too many buttons to choose from at the top of the shirt.  In a neat little line of three, you see the Swiss flag, a Puma logo, and the logo for the Swiss soccer federation.  The white accents along the flanks and armpits of this jersey are nice touches, but can’t save the Swiss from a first-round exit.

Chile (Brooks): Really?  Brooks?  One look at these jerseys and you’ll realize why Brooks does not make jerseys for any other teams in this year’s final.  I bet there is a really interesting story behind how Brooks landed this contract.  I have not been keeping up with my gossip about the Chilean royal family, but my guess is that Randall Slattery (Brooks’ head of South Jersey and Latin American sales) has been knocking boots with one of Chile’s higher-ups.  (Faithful reader- when you read about this saucy tale on PerezHilton.com weeks later, remember where you heard the original scoop)

KNOCKOUT ROUND

Round of 16

1A France vs. 2B Greece

1C  USA vs. 2D Serbia

1D Germany vs. 2C Algeria

1B Argentina vs. 2A Mexico

1E The Netherlands vs. 2F Italy

1G Portugal vs. 2H Spain

1F New Zealand vs 2E Japan

1H Honduras vs. 2G Ivory Coast

Quarterfinals

1C USA vs. 2B Greece 

1B Argentina vs. 1D Germany

1E The Netherlands vs. 1G Portugal

1F New Zealand vs. 2G Ivory Coast

Semi Finals

1B Argentina vs. 1F New Zealand

1G Portugal vs.  2B Greece

Finals

1G Portugal defeats 1F New Zealand

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