The Union unveiled their new away jersey for the 2019 season on Monday. It’s a white shirt with blue trim, and more importantly, it manages to break away from Major League Soccer’s track record of template-based jerseys across multiple teams.
As you can see in the picture above, the jersey has a few notable design elements. The front of the shirt features rows of thin stripes colored with a blue gradient sunburst pattern that emanates from a snake logo at the bottom right corner. It echoes the Sons of Ben supporters club’s mural at Talen Energy Stadium that fans walk by on the way to the River End.
The back of the shirt also will attract attention, as fans can customize the neck logo for their own jerseys from a set of 10 designs. Last month, the Union held a contest for fans to pick those 10 designs from a set of nominees chosen by local celebrities. Among the participants were soccer-and-football power couple Julie and Zach Ertz, Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro, former Union star Sébastien Le Toux, and Philadelphia-born rapper Freeway.
Winning designs were unveiled this week. The first three were unveiled on Tuesday: a LGBTQ rainbow flag with a snake on it, a Philadelphia skyline rendering and the Liberty Bell with a snake overlaid on it. There are multiple other snake motifs to choose from, as well as a Sons of Ben supporters' club logo.
The jersey will go on sale Feb. 8, with a launch event set for that evening at the Union’s offices in Chester. Fans can RSVP to attend on the team’s website.
There’s one other design change that the team previously announced. The big Bimbo sponsor logo on the front is navy blue instead of bright red. It will look that way on the blue home jersey, too, with the same white background element as usual.
The company name is still prominent enough to get plenty of attention, though — and the Union and Bimbo still haven’t overcome the derogatory connotation of the company’s name after eight years together. But at least it’s a change.
This is the last year of the Union’s jersey sponsorship deal with Bimbo, a global baked-goods conglomerate whose U.S. headquarters is in Horsham; the agreement was first signed in 2011 and extended in 2015. At a town-hall meeting with season-ticket holders last October, Union chief business officer Tim McDermott said the team was “in discussions" with Bimbo about a possible renewal, and “also, you know, kind of exploring other opportunities as well.”
He also said there is the possibility of putting one of Bimbo’s sub-brands on the jersey, as MLS will allow for home and away jerseys to have different sub-brands from the same company. He subsequently told the Inquirer and Daily News that such a move is “intriguing” to Bimbo. Thus far, though, all of the Union’s images of this year’s jerseys have had only the Bimbo logo.
McDermott was asked again last Friday about the future of the Bimbo deal in a Q&A session with fans on the Union’s Facebook page. This time, he indicated that the team is likely to extend with Bimbo again, and made no mention of pursuing a new jersey sponsor.