DC United finally getting a cherry blossom kit, sources say

Seven years after the idea was first discussed, DC United is finally getting a cherry blossom jersey.

It’s news that’s sure to please a wide swath of the club’s fan base, which has been clamoring for the concept for years. United fans have watched as other DC-based professional teams, like the NBA’s Washington Wizards and MLB’s Washington Nationals unveiled their own uniforms that celebrated the District’s iconic pink flowers. Even independent kitmakers have gotten in on the action, crafting United-related designs that have served to further whet the appetite of the club’s fans.

The kit has been described, by multiple sources who have seen it, as a primarily white shirt with pink sleeves and a pink, round collar. It features cherry blossom accents — petals and branches — across half of the front of the shirt and black touches, as well. A small black band down the sides of the shirt features a series of slogans.

Another source described it as “entirely different” in design to any of the other cherry-blossom-themed shirts that DC’s other pro teams have rolled out in recent years.

The design of United’s new secondary kit was solidified early last year, and United had some initial copies of the shirts as early as this spring, for use in a promotional shoot during peak bloom of DC’s cherry blossoms at the tidal basin. The club began receiving their larger stock of the jerseys this week.

Reaction from those who have seen the kit has been mixed, with a pair of sources praising it as “legit” and “a lot better than expected.” Another lamented that the club did not push further in terms of doing a more daring design, a common complaint voiced across nearly all of the league’s clubs. It’s unclear how much control United truly had during the design process — as has been discussed in previous design cycles, that balance is one that varies from club to club and can often leave Adidas with much more influence than the club.

A spokesperson for DC United declined to comment on the club’s upcoming jersey.

As early as 2016, some then employees of the club pushed for the cherry blossom kit. A pair of discarded concepts for the club’s 2019 design cycle were published by The Athletic that same season. At the time, club officials nixed the design, as some felt the pink-and-white motif strayed too far from the club’s black-and-red identity. Globally, many other clubs — Barcelona, ​​Manchester United, Everton, Juventus and Real Madrid, to name a few — have experimented with pink kits, to varying degrees of success. In MLS, Inter Miami’s home kit is almost entirely pink while their away shirt features pink lettering, numbers and accents.

Some at the club, a source said on Wednesday, would’ve preferred to roll the cherry blossom-inspired design out as a third kit, something that may have inspired the designers of the shirt to be a bit more creative in their thinking. United, though, does not have that option; Adidas only allows a third kit for a handful of MLS clubs that meet certain sales metrics, sources have said in the past, and United is not one of them.

Other American soccer clubs have experimented with using a floral print. Just last year, the Portland Timbers made use of a rose print, as did the NWSL’s Portland Thorns. Racing Louisville FC introduced a lily flower-covered kit in 2021.

(Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images)

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