Dirty Tackle - World Soccer

On Thursday I went to Niketown in New York City for some new socks and the official unveiling of the U.S. national team's World Cup home kit. Between Internet leaks and the release of the away kit with the same basic design in London in February, we had a good idea of what was coming. The design is, of course, based on the kit the 1950 U.S. World Cup team wore when they shocked the planet with a 1-0 win over England in a game later called the "Miracle on Grass."

Before seeing it in person, I honestly didn't think too highly of the new iteration, but, that soon changed...

Giant Clint Dempsey welcomes you to Niketown. With blood-curdling rage.

The presentation included former U.S. national team leading scorer Eric Wynalda, current manager Bob Bradley and 1950 team member Walter Bahr. Wynalda served as master of ceremonies. Bob Bradley was surprisingly bubbly (a word I never thought I'd use to describe Ol' Wolf Eyes). Some notes on their chat session:

-- Wynalda repeatedly made reference to how the U.S.'s '94 World Cup away kit (made by Adidas) should be stricken from all historical records. I'm sure Nike enjoyed this/paid extra for it.

-- Bradley mentioned how 83-year-old Walter Bahr likes to give him a hard time about the way he dresses. Apparently Bahr doesn't like the elementary school gym teacher look.

-- I want Walter Bahr to be my grandpa.

-- Bradley also said that the players are influenced by how nice a kit is. If they don't like it, they will moan about it in the dressing room like little kids who got Cosby sweaters from their aunts. 

-- I really want Walter Bahr to be my grandpa.

As for the kit itself, if you're not immediately struck by its historical relevance and understated design, then, like me, you might have to see it in person before it starts to grow on you.

Each shirt for all nine Nike teams in the World Cup (Brazil, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, South Korea, Serbia, Slovenia and the U.S.) is made from up to eight recycled plastic water bottles. I don't know how they do that, but I'm guessing it involves gnomes. The fabric is also 13% lighter than before, which Walter Bahr thinks will give him extra speed in his old timers' match (the guy was a charmer).

Perhaps the coolest added touch to the kit is the DTOM ("Don't Tread On Me") snake emblem on the inside of the shirt, beneath the  U.S. crest. Though the quintessentially American slogan didn't help the U.S. national team much as an advertising campaign ahead of the 2006 World Cup, it apparently does hold meaning for members of the team beyond marketing babble.

As for the faint grey sash -- I think Bahr put it best when he described it as a "shadow." A shadow sash doesn't sound as beauty pagenty. And convincing yourself of that might help since Nike's designer said that this callback look could become a mainstay in future U.S. kit designs.

But in the end, this is just a shirt and a pair of shorts we're rambling about so let's move on to something more productive. Like a contest! Here's the deal -- Nike gave us one of these new U.S. home shirts to give away to one of you. So on Monday, we're going to pick a member of our Facebook group at random (join now, if you'd like) and that person will get the shirt in the size of their choice. It's that easy.

Bob Bradley with Grandpa Bahr.

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