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Third Kits Miss the Point

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July 4th did not come without drama for Major League Soccer. The soccer nation is still speechless over how poor referee Yader Reyes was at Rio Tinto Stadium where Real Salt Lake hosted the New England Revolution in the early game of the evening. Tht ended in a 3-3 draw and featured two red cards to the confusion of everyone.

And then came the 0-0 draw between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC at a sold out Home Depot Center. Rookie goalkeeper Brian Perk, at just 21-years-old in his first professional start, saved an 18th minute Fredy Montero penalty kick to earn the shutout in goal. It made for a great story for LA - a team who has now seen four different players in net over the last 180 minutes (including forward Mike Magee keeping the shutout against San Jose last week).

But lower on the radar of the evening's story lines was the awful display of third kits being worn at the Home Depot Center. The match featured two teams that somehow found the need to be cool and trendy rather than be true to their clubs' heritages.

A third kit can be something out of the ordinary for a team, but it should also serve a purpose. The most basic definition of 'serving a purpose' in this context is that it actually features a color that distinguishes it from a team's primary or secondary kits. While both Seattle and LA showed off kits that were technically different colors than any other kit the respective team features, they were hardly much different. Seattle's customary green jersey looked like it had been zapped with nuclear radiation and deemed a third kit on Monday (not that this is the first time the Sounders have shown off this "Electricity, highlighted by Rave Green trim" eye sore).

And then there are the Galaxy's third kits: Far less obnoxiously colored but just as much of a strikeout. Just as the Sounders morphed their crest into a two-tone, discolored badge for the Electricity kit, the Galaxy went with a discolored crest on the third kit so that only two colors appeared throughout the entire kit: "Punjab" (some excuse for an almost black midnight navy color) and "Light Oil Gold" (read more on that nonsense here). Ridiculously, that even meant turning the red, white and blue of the American flag into a Punjab and Light Oil Gold flag on July 4th, American Independence Day. At least Seattle let the American flag and MLS logo hold true to color.

In trying to be trendy and cool, Los Angeles missed out on a change to actually honor some heritage. Before the club underwent a complete overhaul upon the arrival of David Beckham in the middle of the 2007 season, gold and teal (and later a darker forest green) were fixtures in the Galaxy's color scheme and jerseys. Both of the club's MLS Cups were lifted during that era. The lasting image of Carlos Ruiz dropping to his knees in the teal with gold trim after scoring the game-winner in MLS Cup 2002 is an image few Galaxy fans forget. And then the one-hit wonder Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez, wearing the classy gold with hunter green sash, hit for the game-winning volley in MLS Cup 2005. Those are memories that should be honored and that could have been done with a modernized version of one of those kits. Instead, the Galaxy offered up some color called "Punjab" that is hardly useful in the event that the team's blue jerseys (which are sparsel worn anyway) conflict with another team's kits.

Surely plenty of fans have already purchased a Punjab and Light Oil Gold kit and are proudly wearing it to the stadium or their local night club, because it is just that cool. But others will have to settle for hanging onto the old gold and green Nike kits. Surely one day those will be recognized. You would hope, anyway.