x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Different stripes for different stars

True colours The USA is known to be one of the most patriotic countries on the planet, and this was quite apparent when it hosted the Fifa World Cup in 1994.

Alexei Lalas's looks complemented the 'patriotic' kit. Patrick Hertzog / AFP
Alexei Lalas's looks complemented the 'patriotic' kit. Patrick Hertzog / AFP

The USA is known to be one of the most patriotic countries on the planet, and this was quite apparent when it hosted the Fifa World Cup in 1994. With football - or soccer as it called in the US - not being the most popular sport, one of the quick fixes used to get fans on board was to design the team's kit around the country's flag. The home kit features the red and white stripes, albeit with them running down the shirt. But it was the second kit that really caught the eye - with a host of differently sized white stars on a remarkable denim blue background.

The man who wore the colours best was the ginger-goateed, guitar-strumming defender Alexei Lalas, whose look from the neck up somehow managed to deflect criticism of the kit. Thankfully, the kit was dropped not long after the World Cup, as it had served its purpose. In 2007, the New York Times said: "The Americans' countless experiments in mixing red, white and blue with various stars, stripes, etc, have stunted the creation of a tradition and personality for US soccer."

The newspaper had a point. Between 1999 and 2001, the US wore a plain white shirt with a thick V-neck collar reminiscent of their initial look from 1916. For the 2006 World Cup, a white shirt was worn with a red and blue vertical stripe on the left side of the chest, in tribute to the kit worn by the US team in the 1950 finals. At least the 1994 kit was an original.