The New England Revolution’s new shirt isn’t a complete throwback, and that might be a good thing.
On Wednesday, the Revs revealed their latest look, which is nicknamed “The Original” because of its similarities to the gear worn in 1996. The “star burst” shirt paired with red shorts elicits feelings of nostalgia for many fans. That said, the players that wore them weren’t exactly fond of the style.
The man behind the first two goals in Revs history, Robert Ukrop, didn’t take a jersey with him when he left the club after nine games. He wish he did though, even if he wasn’t keen on the garb.
“I just remember that they were awful. They were awful looking,” Ukrop said in 2015.
Aidan Heaney, who made 19 appearances in 1996, noted that all of the founding clubs wore outlandish jerseys. The designs were a clear giveaway that the league was born in the 90’s.
As a goalkeeper, Heaney didn’t wear the same shirt as his teammates, though he believes that his uniform wasn’t much better.
“I laugh when I see (those jerseys),” Heaney stated. “For me, as a goalkeeper, I think if anyone looked up to shoot, you’d just see bright colors. I might have had some sort subconscious effect for me. But it did look like someone might have been sick and landed on me.”
Defender Teddy Chronopoulos remembers something different about the jerseys, stating that the material wasn’t optimal for athletics.
“The jerseys?! You always remember your first jersey, but those felt like we were carrying a 10 pound backpack,” Chronopoulos claimed. “Over the years, jerseys have become lighter, sweat resistant.”
As Chronopoulos recognized, the legacy of those 96 jerseys isn’t related to the style or material. Rather, it’s about being the first shirts worn by the Revolution.
That’s exactly how Darren Sawatzky remembers them. Sawatzky played two seasons with the Revs, operating largely as a midfielder. The honor of playing in the league’s first season outweighs any concern about the apparel.
“I loved everything about the new league in 96,” Sawatzky said. “We were part of a generation that didn’t have a pro league until then and I would have worn a toga if I needed to in order to get the opportunity to be part of that first season of MLS.”