Having revealed 32-25 in the World Cup kit rankings, Uni Watch is back with the next eight on the countdown:
24. United States
The Expert (Trevor Williams): The World Cup might be the only televised soccer many Americans watch, so it's imperative for the national team to have a visual identity. The team's past few uniforms have been steps in the right direction, such as the 2010 World Cup away and the 2013 Gold Cup home. But the 2014 set is a major step backward, as the white-centric home kit evokes Wimbledon, while the away shirt looks like a Bomb Pop. It's a shame that an earlier design that leaked didn't turn out to be legit -- the sash and centennial crest would have been big improvements.
The Novice (Paul Lukas): Wow, talk about your split personality -- reserved at home, bold on the road. Unfortunately, neither design really works. The home jersey looks like a generic golf shirt, no? And while it's nice that the away uses the colors of the national flag, it still doesn't feel very flag-based because the color proportions are all wrong.
The Expert: In 2006, Italy broke with tradition by going with solid blue for most of the tournament en route to the title, so it's good to see them using contrasting shorts this time around. Unfortunately, Puma has cluttered them up with logos, piping, truncated sleeve stripes, pinstripes, and tire tracks that supposedly "stimulate the skin." The away kit plays it safe but pleases no one. Italy should have gone for a bold look like the Juventus 2010-11 away shirt.
The Novice: Really sad to see all these Puma kits with the same vertical stripes on the torso. Meanwhile, that tire tread is bizarre. Is this some kind of stealth Michelin sponsorship?
The Expert: The 2014 kit was "inspired" by 1960s cosmonauts, which explains that weird pattern on the front of the home shirt -- it's a stylized rendition of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space. The away design is supposedly based on a photo from the Electro-L satellite, although a more accurate tribute would've resulted in home orange and away white-ish blue. If adidas had dropped this halfhearted space odyssey by removing the obelisk on the home and cleaning up the shoulder yoke on the away, these kits could be taken more seriously.
The Novice: Space, shmace. If you ignore the cosmonaut-based "storytelling" and just assess the uniforms on their aesthetic merits, the home looks sort of creepy and the away looks pretty darn sweet. Also, I realize adidas has a built-in stripe advantage when it comes to stripes, but that doesn't change the fact that their triple-striped socks look really, really good.
The Expert: Mexico's home kit, based on a lucha libre mask, is par with the extravagant 1998 uniform. The wrestling design has been met with a mix of derision and delight, as some think it is insensitive for non-Mexicans to decide the team's identity, while others point out that supporters wear masks to games. As for the red-and-black away kit, the shirt can look orange depending on how the light hits it, and it resembles shirts worn by Slovenia, the San Jose Earthquakes and Charlie Brown. An unnamed adidas official said the kits were created with 15-year-olds in mind, so maybe the Charlie Brown reference makes the most sense.
The Novice: Tone down those lightning bolts across the chest of the home design and you have a real winner. But I'm afraid nothing can be done to rescue the away.
The Expert: Portugal's 2014 home uniforms are inspired by their 2006 run to the World Cup semifinals, where they wore a nearly solid-maroon kit with some green accents. The uneven, two-toned, red stripes would have worked better as a gradient, like on Leyton Orient's 2013-14 home shirt. Many fans are reportedly happy with the design but wish the shorts were green. The away shirt dispenses with the gimmicks and goes with a simple, clean look based on the 1966 World Cup third-place game. A few fans wished Nike also had used green trim with green shorts, as blue is associated with the former monarchy that was deposed in a short but bloody revolution.
The Novice: Have to disagree about the window-blinds striping on the home shirt, which looks great to these eyes. But the away looks rather plain, no?
The Expert: Colombia has worn a variety of shirt colors over the years, including orange, white, red, yellow, and blue. But after two decades of yellow and blue shirts, adidas has decided to revive red as an away color and give the yellow home shirt a dash of blue. The traditional home blue shorts have been changed to white. While the new away is a fresh look, the home seems to have been influenced by the diagonal stylings of Puma's recent designs.
The Novice: Love the diagonals on the home (and don't overlook the very nice socks). But the away feels too plain, and it feels like there's a big disconnect between the two designs. Unless someone told you, would you even guess that these two shirts belong to the same team?
The Expert: Chile's 2014 kits are a step down from the 2010 design. Puma couldn't resist extraneous streaks sleeve elements, adding the Chilean flag to the back and waistband and a two-tone collar on the home shirt that defies explanation. However, the original crest is back, which is a positive development.
The Novice: Eh, I'm fine with the flag (although maybe it should only appear once, not twice), and I really like the collar. But again with the tire tracks! What's up with that?
17. Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Expert: In Bosnia and Herzegovina's short footballing history, the country's kits have largely been mundane -- surprising, given Bosnia's dynamic flag design, which could be used as the basis for a creative uniform (like this fan concept, for example). Legea had been the supplier for many years and had created a 2014 World Cup set, but adidas will begin outfitting the team on June 1, so the manufacturer's logo will change. The home and road uniforms are both rather generic, with the away shirt having unnecessary truncated diagonal stripes. Contrasting shirts and shorts would also look better.
The Novice: I like the consistency of the two uniforms essentially being reverse-color versions of each other. But what's the use of consistency when the base design such a snoozer? Consistently boring.