As Greg Berhalter's USMNT embark on their World Cup adventure, we look at how the US sides of the past were kitted out at previous tournaments.
The world of football has greatly evolved from the first ever FIFA World Cup staged in Uruguay almost a century ago where 13 nations met to dispute for the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time. The modern game is almost indistinguishable from the then: Video Assistant Referees, state of the art stadia, aerodynamic polyurethane footballs and players with Climalite performance enhancing shirts wearing gossamer light boots. The premise of the game though has changed little, with the objective of scoring more goals than the opponent a constant in the evolution of the game. As part of our 2022 World Cup coverage, we look at how the USMNT national team jersey has changed over the years.
1930) Uruguay World Cup
The US were one of the 13 invited nations to take part in the inaugural World Cup and they proceeded to deliver their best performance in their 11 participations by reaching the semi-final stage where they were outclassed by beaten finalists Argentina. The team benefitted by many of Europe’s leading nations failing to travel in a US team that featured 6 British-born players.
Kit:The jersey used by the US in the 1930 World Cup was a traditional heavy white cotton shirt frequently used at the time. The stars and stripes badge adorns the shirt with the colours of the US flag set to shape the design and of future USA soccer shirts.
1934) Italy World Cup
The Italy 34 World Cup was unique given that the group stage format was done away with in favour of a straight knockout. Lady Luck failed to shine on the US team as they were drawn against the host nation Italy who delivered a resounding 7-1 thrashing at Rome Stadio Nazionale.
Kit:Royal blue was the predominant colour for the 1934 shirt (the first time this colour was used as the principal shirt colour until 2015) and once again the the jersey was a heavy cotton, unbranded garment.
1950) Brazil World Cup
Withdrawal from the 1938 World Cup and the outbreak of World War II meant that 1950 saw the US’s third participation at the tournament. A disappointing group stage was offset as the US team recorded a 1-0 win over England in Belo Horizonte with the result being widely regarded as one of the biggest World Cup upsets.
Kit:The US national team had reverted to white as the principal colour of the home shirt with the 1950 version featuring a red diagonal sash and blue shorts. The crest also had been amended evolved from the stars and stripes to incorporate the USA acronym.
1990) Italy World Cup
After a 40 year spell in the World Cup wilderness where the US failed to qualify for nine interim competitions, the USMNT finally marked their return to the global stage with an underwhelming tournament at Italia 90. Three successive defeats and eight goals conceded saw Bob Gansler’s men taking an early flight home.
Kit:As of 1995, German sportswear brand were the official kit supplier to the US national team in a deal that would span for almost a decade. Imagination was thin on the ground with the home and away kits for the tournament in Italy with the US using an all white kit (home) with the corresponding all blue effort not getting used.
1994) USA World Cup
The first ever World Cup on US soil saw the host nation advance to the knockout phase as one of the best third placed sides in the group stage as local fans got behind the competition packing out stadiums across the country. A narrow 1-0 Round of 16 defeat to eventual winners Brazil saw the US exit the competition but the ‘soccer seeds’ had been sown in the US with MLS launching two years later.
Kit:Both 1994 World Cup USA kits are regarded as iconic by fans across the world. The home effort from Adidas featuring the red stripes from the US flag set off with blue shorts was easy on the eye but it’s the denim blue with white stars and dark red shorts that really tick the boxes for the nostalgists.
1998) France World Cup
After the relative high of the 1994 World Cup, there was a new low for the US in France as Steve Sampson’s men failed to secure a single point during the competition. The only goal the Stars & Stripes managed at France 98 came in a politically charged clash against Iran in Lyon with Brian McBride finding the net in a disastrous campaign.
Kit:After the conclusion of the Adidas deal, US Soccer secured Nike as official sportswear partner (an agreement that runs to the present day). The 1994 World Cup USA kit was an all white affair and the red shirts, navy shorts combo was used in the defeat to Germany in Paris.
2002) S.Korea/Japan World Cup
The second tournament to feature 32 teams was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea. The US were pitted in a complicated group featuring Portugal, Poland and South Korea but Bruce Arena’s side shocked many with an opening 3-2 win over Portugal. A second place finish set up a tie with Mexico and the 2-0 scoreline is forever etched in US soccer folklore with a rare win over the highly fancied neighbours. A 1-0 defeat to Germany ended the US dream but the team’s performances in Korea changed many perceptions on how the USMNT were viewed in soccer circles.
Kit:Nike played things safe for the 2002 tournament with an all white kit as the home option with a navy shirt used for colour clashes.
2006) Germany World Cup
Bruce Arena was in charge once again for the 2006 World Cup but his side failed to make an impression as they had done four years earlier. An opening 0-3 to defeat left Arena’s side with a mountain to climb in the group and despite a battling 1-1 draw with eventual winners Italy, a below par performance and defeat to Ghana ended the US’s involvement in Germany.
Kit:The home kit for the 2006 competition was predominantly white with a navy and red band running down the left hand side with the overall result delivering a smart looking shirt. The away kit too was easy on the eye with a red and white horizontal band across the chest.
2010) South Africa World Cup
Bob Bradley was at the helm as the US participated in the first World Cup to be held on the African continent and saw his team top their group undefeated with a win and two draws. A Round of 16 tie against Ghana ensued with the game one of the most viewed in US Soccer history as 19 million tuned in only to see the Black Stars triumph with an extra time winner from Asamoah Gyan.
Kit:As in 2006, Nike were on point with the 2010 US World Cup kits with both home and away opting for the diagonal sash idea. The white jersey featured a very light grey diagonal stripe with the popular away shirt using a predominantly navy colour with a white sash.
2014) Brazil World Cup
German Jurgen Klinsmann was drafted in by US Soccer in 2011 to take over from Bradley and after a slow start secured qualification for the Brazil World Cup. His team were pitted in a complicated group along with Portugal, Germany and Ghana. Defying the odds, with a win, draw and defeat, the USWNT progressed on goal difference and were rewarded with a Round of 16 tie against Belgium. Klinsmann’s side were unlucky as they outplayed the European side for spells of the tie but fell to a Romelu Lukaku winner in extra time.
Kit:Nike maintained their solid work with the US Soccer Federation in delivering two smart kits for the Brazil tournament. The home kit being a crisp and clean all white affair with the away design boasting an attractive red kit with blue and white uppers on the jersey which made it’s World Cup debut as the US overcame Ghana in their Group G opener.
2022) Qatar World Cup
After failing to qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup, there was added pressure on coach Gregg Berhalter to ensure that the ‘Stars & Stripes’ advanced to the Qatar tournament given that the United States will co-host the 2026 edition along with Canada and Mexico. Recent games against Japan and Saudi Arabia have seen Berhalter’s men deliver underwhelming performances with serious doubts among US fans about the national team emerging from a group featuring England, Iran and Wales.
Kit:There was a deal of incredulity among many in the kit community when the home and away shirts for Qatar were leaked. Even players such as Weston McKennie and Timothy Weah took to social media to express their surprise with the shirts that frankly resemble training tops.