By Phil Hecken
With the 2014 World Cup kicking off on Thursday, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and pick a winner. Now, we won’t be using any world rankings or results from Friendlies or Vegas odds or any of that — we’re gonna pick our winner by uniform.
Today I’ll be joined by Dan Egner, who approached me a while ago with an idea to not just showcase the uniforms of the World Cup, but to base his predictions on who’ll move out of the Group Stages and beyond, based on the choice of kit(s) of the teams involved. For the first part, Dan will review the participants of the World Cup as they appear in their eight (A-H) groups, and tomorrow he’ll be back to play the remainder of the tournament out via uni-superiority. Sounds easy, right? Well, we’ll just have to see. So, because it’s a pretty intricate set-up, I’ll let Dan take it away from here. Click on any image to see a larger version. OK? OK!
1 – Brazil
The home side Brazil comes out atop Group A. Brazil’s crest is the best in the group. The primary jersey is somewhat underwhelming, especially with the thin strip of green around the neck. The secondary and third kits are what give Brazil the edge over the rest of the group. The third kit is something radical and different for Brazil. A+ for the neon yellow monochrome crest. The shorts, well, those are something. Best in the tournament hands down.
2 – Croatia
Croatia comes out of a tough scrum with Cameroon for the second spot in the group. It is impossible to go against the checkerboard look. For the first time, Croatia features checkerboard look on its secondary kit. The checkerboard pattern on the secondary kits and the boxed numbers on the primary top have Croatia moving to the knockout round.
3 – Cameroon
Two of the best tops in the tournament. With its awesome patterning and symbolism on both tops, the green and yellow tops definitely stand out. Unfortunately, Cameroon decided to use shorts pulled out of a 1980s aerobics video, absolutely killing any momentum they had from the tops. The shorts are bland and just don’t hold up.
4 – Mexico
An absolute train wreck in every sense. Luchador mask inspired tops, really? Luchador masks are 100% Mexican, and 100% awesome. However, those tops don’t make any sane person think luchador. The secondary reddish orange kit is just as bad if not worse. The pattern in the middle looks like an EKG reading. No thank you Mexico.
Slideshow … Set
1 – Netherlands
Not much of a surprise here as the Netherlands tops the group. The retro crest is regal and historic. It’s a gigantic upgrade from the weird cartoon lion wearing a crown and sticking his tongue out. The simple primary orange top paired with white shorts looks reinvented. However, the secondary blue top propels the Netherlands to the top of the group. As for the rest of Group B, if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.
2 – Australia
A surprise second place finish for the Socceroos. The yellow primary top with the green collar is simple, yet something very few teams can pull off. The secondary kits pushed Australia to the knockout round. The all navy look makes the Socceroos look intimidating, something they are going to need when the ball is rolled out. Plus, it’s hard to argue with a kangaroo and ostrich crest.
3 – Spain
The defending champions are going home earlier than expected. The all red primary kit is arguably the best of Group B. Paired with gold trim, a gold crest and gold numbers; the jersey is flat out classy. Unfortunately for Spain, the secondary kit is an absolute disaster. The black and neon yellow color scheme is just…weird. The stripe across the middle of the jersey looks like a paint strip found at Lowe’s. Yellow and black just isn’t Spain.
4 – Chile
Poor Chile. So much potential left untapped. The tops are the generic Puma design that was rolled out for almost all Puma World Cup teams. The primary top is meh, and the secondary all white kit is just as boring and almost a mirror image to the primary. I can’t help but think of milkmen when looking at this get up.
Slideshow … Set
1 – Colombia
Making its long awaited return to the World Cup, Colombia does so in fashion. The primary yellow top is a keeper. The horizontal blue chest stipe draws attention in all the right places. The neckline patch consisting of wings and “Unidos Por Un Pais” is a great touch for a team that has risen from the ashes. The secondary red kit is a little on the boring side, and fits into Adidas’ generic jersey template, but, the blue and white crest is a nice touch. Somewhere in the world Carlos Valderrama and his hair are smiling.
2 – Ivory Coast
Although the jerseys are a little plain, the patterning on the shoulder and underneath the armpit is a nice touch. The patterning consists of Côte d’Ivoire and nickname “Les Éléphants”, as well as cartoon elephants. What moves Ivory Coast onto the knockout round is two things: the awesome orange and green colors and how well they go together, and of course, the elephant crest. Hands down the best crest in the entire field.
3 – Japan
Coming in a solid third is Japan. The primary kit is not bad, but it’s not good. There is a lot going on and it feels busy. The red streak across the back of the jersey does not meld well and seems out of place. The second jersey is a complete disaster. Neon yellow is a color that Japan should never wear. The only good thing going for this jersey is the socks, which are no match for elephants.
4 – Greece
Hands down last place. These kits look like they should be worn while playing the back nine or at center court at Wimbledon. Plain, boring, and a weird rectangular crest have the Greeks getting blown out of Group C.
Slideshow … Set
1 – Uruguay
The beneficiary of a relatively weak group. The primary light blue top pops, and the crest looks great on the shirt. The shadowed sun placed behind the crest is a great, subtle touch. This jersey would be better paired with white shorts, but the black will have to do. The secondary white top comes off as boring. The milkman look comes off as clean, but it is bland and does not have too many positives or negatives.
2 – England
Nothing special about either England strip. They both look timeless and classic. The red top is a nice bold look. It’s simple yet I don’t find myself bored with it. The all white strip is classic England. Good choice of all white shorts and socks instead of blue, which has always looked strange. If only Peter Crouch were going to be donning these beauts in Brazil. If only…
3 – Italy
The curious case of Italy. There is always so much going on with the Italian jersey that it makes them look gimmicky and tacky. Buttons on the collar? This is not a dress shirt; it’s a soccer jersey. Keep your buttons at home. Good job good effort, but just not good enough to move on to the knockout rounds.
4 – Costa Rica
An absolute disaster. The jerseys look cheap, the tops come off as shiny, and the crest is horrendous. Costa Rica does not sniff the knockout rounds. Cheap looking jerseys get them a last place finish in Group D.
Slideshow … Set
1 – France
Hands down the leader of Group E. France is able to pull off the white collar with its navy blue top, one of the most French things ever, and the simplified Gallic Rooster crest looks sharp. The entire ensemble of blue, white, and red resembles the French flag. The secondary white jersey is not nearly as exciting as the primary strip, but the mime look works well paired with the blue shorts. Once again, classic French.
2 – Ecuador
Ecuador makes its return to the World Cup in style, and it is enough to move them through to the knockout rounds. The primary yellow kit pops. Its blue and yellow highlights throughout incorporate all three colors of the country, and looks sharp with blue shorts. The patterning on the chest enhances the look. The secondary blue kit works just as nice, as it is the same template as the primary yellow. Plus, the crest incorporates an Andean Condor. A condor. One more time, A CONDOR.
3 – Switzerland
Another dud by Puma. The only positive this kit has going for it is the ghost cross in the center of the jersey. Besides that, complete snooze fest. Same can be said for the white secondary. The Swiss crest looks like something a preschooler made on an Etch A Sketch in thirty-six seconds. Boring jerseys and an Etch A Sketch crest equals third place.
4 – Honduras
Honduras finishes in a distant fourth in Group E for its overly plain and outright tacky looking jersey. Hanes Beefy-T with a Times New Roman font shimmering H on the chest. The JV high school look had Honduras crashing out of Group E before the tournament even started.
Slideshow … Set
1 – Argentina
Far and away the class of the group, Argentina’s timeless blue and white stripe primary kit leaves the rest of the field behind. The secondary kit features a few shades of blue and is a nice alternative. The navy blue top third of the jersey pairs will with the royal blue bottom third for one of the most polished second kits in the tournament.
2 – Iran
Coming out of nowhere, Iran and its cheetah jerseys shock Group F and move Team Melli to the knockout phase. The primary red top is the star of the show. A good portion of the front of the jersey features the Asiatic cheetah, a critically endangered species of cheetah found predominately in Iran. The secondary white top also features the cheetah. Any jersey that has a cheetah face moves on.
3 – Nigeria
The Super Eagles’ jerseys are anything but super. The neon green primary top definitely works, but the contrasting shades of green are off-putting. The secondary white top is underwhelming and features some thick, weird upper chest lines stemming from the collar and extending to the shoulder. Nigeria’s only hope of moving past Iran would be if its jerseys were made from actual cheetahs.
4 – Bosnia and Herzegovina
B&H produced hands down the worst two uniforms in the entire field. The jerseys are the most basic Adidas templates. In all honesty, the uniforms look like training gear.
Slideshow … Set
1 – Germany
No team in the group even comes close to completing with the Germans. The chevron propels the Germans to the top of the group. Instead of a green secondary top, Germany goes with a thick red and white striped top that pays off. The non-collar collar with the button at the top is a nice subtle touch that elevates the jersey to a sophisticated look. The combination of the two tops easily placed them at the top.
2 – Portugal
Ronaldo and company’s primary kit is unlike any other in the field of 32. The gradient stripes draw attention to all the right places. The secondary kits are overly simple, but yet classy in an England type of way. Something that Ronaldo could wear out on the town with a pair of board shorts while holding a glass of scotch or toasting the USA down the flanks. Overall, a great look for Portugal, who advance to the knockout round past Ghana.
3 – Ghana
The primary white top is too simple for a team with such vibrant colors. The patterning around the neck looks like a thick dog collar. Ghana made a late push against Portugal with its bright red secondary kit, but it was too little too late. Puma did something right by continuing the patterning across the entire top and all the way down to the shorts on the secondary kits.
4 – USA
The primary kit is beyond awful. Overly simple, and the collared white golf polo shirt look is embarrassing. There is nothing about this jersey that screams USA. Tremendous disappointment. Uggh… The secondary superhero/popsicle kit is remarkable. However, as nice and fresh as the secondary kit is, it is not enough to keep the USA from finishing last in the group. The vanilla primary kit and the outdated crest are too much for the USA to overcome.
Slideshow … Set
1 – Belgium
The Belgians easily top Group H. The all red primary kit features a large crown, a unique and cool look. The secondary all black get up features a fresh red and yellow sash that is a great contrast against the black top. My main complaint is the placement of the Burrda logo, which disrupts the flow. The third top, which is the same as the primary except in yellow, is another winner.
2 – Russia (Adidas)
Not the best tops Russia has ever produced, but they move on due to a weak group. The primary red/maroon kit is interesting. The weird pattering up the bottom and left side of the jersey is something one might see in a M.C. Escher piece. Putin’s face would have been better suited for this spot. The secondary white/blue kit is reminiscent of a classy vodka bottle. The transition from dark blue to lighter shades is pleasing to the eye. There is no other jersey in the field that features this look, and it sets the Russians apart and onto the Round of 16.
3 – South Korea
Hands down the best crest in the entire group. Who doesn’t like white tigers and soccer? The red top is bright and bold, but the shoulder stripes look like something seen on a football jersey. The secondary white top is the same template as the red primary. The alternating stripes are odd. Sadly, the Koreans go home early, despite their awesome tiger crest.
4 – Algeria
The top is cluttered with the crest on the left breast and the Algerian flag on the right breast. The shade of green Algeria uses is different than any other team in the field, but there is noting at all exciting about the kit. Bye bye Algeria.
Thanks, Dan! That’s quite the write-up (and quite the setup for the rest of the tourney). We’ll be back tomorrow as Dan plays the rest of the tournament out to the final, where he’ll predict a winner. Readers? How do you like Dan’s predictions so far?
“Triple Chrome” (?)
OK, that will undoubtedly be the headline on the back page of 1/2 of the newspapers in the US tomorrow if favorite horse California Chrome is successful in capturing the third leg of the Triple Crown.
There’s not really much *uni related* about horse racing (well, at least that we haven’t covered here before), but Paul wanted to bring to our attention two items of interest:
• As you may be aware, California Chrome wore a nose patch (basically a glorified nasal strip) during his two victories (at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes), and there had been some talk it might not be allowed for the Belmont. But that possible snafu was quickly avoided. Now, his owners are really pushing the virtues of the strips (and of course, some 50,000 of the human version will be given away at today’s race).
• Racetracks need groundskeepers (lots of them, in fact), just like any other ballpark where athletes run on grass and dirt. But they’re really persnickety at the Belmont at making sure the dirt is really, really good. And now wonder — there’s a lot at stake(s) here.
I won’t be going to today’s race, but I’ve probably been to around 10 Belmont Stakes races in the past (I live about 7 miles from the track). First went as a 17 year old, with a buddy’s parents, who foolishly allowed two underage kids to roam the upper deck wagering and (I cannot confirm or deny) probably drinking adult beverages as well.
When I got older, I had another friend whose home literally bordered on Belmont Park (it’s a HUGE track and grounds — we’d enter just north of the “WHITE PARKING” on the diagram). We’d hop his fence, and be in the very back of the grounds, walking about two miles to the grandstand — back in the 1990s, he’d host a Belmont Party early on the day of the big event, and a group of about 20-30 of us would bring coolers full of food and beverages and set up camp in the area near the top of the stretch. They don’t let you bring coolers into the track on Stakes day anymore.
The *best* seating I ever had occurred in 2002, when War Emblem was seeking the Triple Crown — my (then) wife, through a client, got us into a private suite with Visa. The proprietors of that suite had, as our guests, the owners, trainer and jockey for Seattle Slew, the penultimate winner of the Triple Crown (and who had sadly passed away earlier that year), in celebration of Slew’s 1977 Triple Crown win (it was the 25th Anniversary of that victory). War Emblem didn’t win.
In fact, of the approximately 10 times I’ve been to the Stakes over the years, I’ve seen at least four potential triple crown wins all dashed (most recently were 2003 (Funny Cide) and 2004 (Smarty Jones); I’m pretty sure I was there for at least two of these three: (1997 for Silver Charm, 1998 for Real Quiet and/or 1999 for Charismatic). None of them won. A few were second. It’s a LONG race (a mile and a half — usually the longest distance any of these ponies will ever run). So, we’ll see if California Chrome will be able to pull off the rare feat. I actually enjoyed going to the race more when there was no shot at the Triple Crown, because the place was much less crowded. Usually for the Belmont there are around 50,000 people, but it gets over 100,000 when there’s a shot at the TC.
Over the years, while I’ve lost on occasion, I usually come away from the track a winner (I have an odd betting strategy that, if it pays off, only requires one win in an entire day of racing). I’m not a gambler, but I have been known to wager on the thoroughbreds. In a full day of racing, the Belmont Stakes is (or used to be) the ninth race out of 10, and it’s the one race on the docket I would NOT bet. And on Stakes day, there are way too many amateurs and the lines at the windows were far too long to bet that race. But I’d usually bet the first 8 races and then enjoy the Stakes without any wagering.
I’ll be rooting for Chrome today, and I hope he wins. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
What about you, readers? Any of you play the ponies, or are going to the Belmont today (or have you been to the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes)? Got any good stories? Let’s hear ’em.
Chicago reminder: All you Chicago-area readers, remember that there’s a Uni Watch party TONIGHT (Saturday, June 7, 6pm, at the Black Rock Bar). And now that the Blackhawks have been eliminated, you won’t be busy that night and will need to drown your sorrows, so come on out and meet intern Mike “Question of the Week” Chamernik, Comrade Robert Marshall, Jimbo Huening, Marty Hick (visiting all the way from St. Looie), and the rest of the Chi-town crew. Paul and I wish we could be there, but you guys who think you know how to make pizza should have a great time.
And while we’re at it, all NYC-area readers are hereby reminded that we’ll be having a Uni Watch 15th-anniversary party this coming Tuesday, June 10, at 7:30pm, in the back room at Sheep Station.
Paul and I look forward to
having you buy us a few rounds seeing you there.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Today, (from yesterday’s NY Daily News), Tampa Bay Rays will be wearing Brooklyn Dodger throwbacks to honor the late Don Zimmer (I’m guessing this is just a pre-game thing). Thanks to Chris LaBella for the spot (and also submitted as a link by Michael Lopez). … ” I notice that our (Cubs) catcher Wellington Castillo wears the old-school style catchers mask, but with the skull cap facing forward as opposed to backwards,” writes Cubs fan Gregory Andia. “I’ve also noticed a few other catchers that do this – for instance Jared Saltalamacchia with both the Sox and the Marlins. Jose Lobaton for the Rays also wears his forward. I read in an interview with Saltalamacchia that he started it in Spring Training to keep the sun out of his eyes. What are your thoughts? I think it’s a pretty nice look actually.” … Here’s a beautiful photo of Stan Musial waiting to bat at the Polo Grounds in 1962. … Reader Joseph Hiley points out that some type of logo was colored over on a Kennesaw State catcher’s mask. … And just when we see the removal of logo creep, here’s Alex Gordon with TWO swooshes on his undershirt (h/t Josh Carson).
NFL News: The gameplay trailer for Madden 15 was released yesterday. Luke Kuechly is shown in the locker room with a blank nose bumper, notes Austin Glover. “Later in the video, he is shown on the field with a nose bumper that says ‘Panthers’.” … Madden Cover Jinx? Yesterday, Richard Sherman “won” the cover of the Madden 15 game, and on the live ESPN show he held up a game mock wearing the OLD Seahawks uniforms (however, this is just a “working” copy, and the final cover will look something like this) == nevertheless, great spot by Anthony Johnson. Actually, the different cover was later confirmed to me, and that will be revealed in August. Sherman is already working on it. … Know how the NFL doesn’t want to use “L” for Super Bowl 50? It’s not that hard to hide an “L” in the logo (from a tweet by @YAN0).
College Football News: As you may be aware, Oklahoma State University has been in the process of putting down new turf in their stadium. Here’s a look at the almost completed project (h/t Josh Dryer). … There’s also new turf at TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota (via Ryan Pecka). The Vikings will be playing at TCF this fall, while their new stadium is constructed. … In a shock to no one, it looks like Oregon will have new kelly green helmets this season (h/t Daniel Fuchs).
NBA & College Hoop News: Wow — check out this sweet Cincinnati Royals glass! Says Bruce Menard, “Pretty much everything on this auction page looks awesome.” Indeed. … New Charlotte Hornets’ mascot Hugo has new kicks. “I’m sure there is no coincidence that Hugo the Hornet is wearing what appears to be Jordan XI shoes,” says Marc-Louis Paprzyca. … “Saw your question about the NBA mascot logo,” says Paul Kos. “The Phoenix Suns gorilla has his own logo and webpage.” … Think this has been brought up before, but Robert Silverman thinks the Chicago Bulls logo upside down looks like a robot reading a book. There are conspiracies aplenty with this particular logo, and they seem to center on a robot reading a bible on a bench. … Hmmm. What’s wrong with this picture? (h/t Zach Trumpp). … Has adidas designed a new basketball uni template for its NCAA teams? Possibly so (thanks to Chris Mahr).
Hockey News: This is fairly cool: Hockey team colors on a cool watch – “A Watch For Hockey Fans That Doesn’t Suck” (nice spot by Tommy Turner). … “I was watching an old episode of Full House. Danny, Jesse, and Joey were playing in a hockey game,” says Aaron Hargue. “Their team was the TV station on which Danny and Becky’s show, Wake Up San Francisco, airs, KTMB 8. They put the station’s call letters and channel number on the front of the jerseys, and unfortunately the used the same font as the player numbers. It looks like they’re all number 8 from the front.”
Soccer News: There are some wierd regulations, and then there are some really strange ones — check out “6 Craziest” World Cup requirements for FIFA World Cup uniforms. … Pretty cool history of World Cup posters(?) since the beginning of the WC (h/t Sully). … Reader Marc Viquez just picked up a “fascinating” book on soccer kits entitled 1000 Football Shirts. “Inside there is a story on how Boca Juniors in Argentina would not allow Coca-Cola to use their formal colors of red and white, since they are same colors of the soccer rivals River Plate. Also, look at Spain’s 1950 World Cup jerseys, they look like a button down baseball uniform.” … Nike and adidas designers discuss what went into the 2014 World Cup jerseys.
Grab Bag: Billion-dollar shapewear brand Spanx has hired Nike’s head of apparel, Jan Singer, as its new CEO (nice find by Tommy Turner). … It’s not just Major League logos that get ripped off — by high schools and amateur teams. Sometimes, even NPR shows have their logos boosted! (Great spot by John Dankosky). “Just ran across this on Slate,” writes Kyle Hanks. “Apparently, last month Google adjusted two of the letters in their logo by re-positioning them by one pixel each. It’s awesome that someone even noticed this.” … The Ale Smith Brewery out of San Diego has created a new beer, supposedly with input from Tony Gwynn. They are calling it San Diego Pale Ale 394 and the “logo” is reminiscent of old Padre garb and includes a silhouette of Tony and his John Hancock (nice find by Ty Murphy). … Submitter Mike Bonfanti was down in Orlando and snapped this picture of an FSU Quidditch player wearing the team’s jersey. Says Mike, neither “Harry Potter nor the golden snitch were seen.” … Remember those “I is a college student” t-shirts? Those were intentionally funny — this Wolcott Tech shirt? Funny, but probably not intentionally so. The extra “i” is for “intelligence” (h/t Jim Brunetti).
And that will do it for today. Big thanks to Dan for that World Cup uni prediction! Everyone enjoy the Belmont today (and the NHL Final[s] tonight). Back with more good stuff tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken
“I believe most polls have shown that a majority of fans prefer white at home, but as with most things in Gary Bettman’s NHL, he does not care what the fans think or want.”