During yesterday's reserve match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers, I had a chance to talk off the record with several members of the Vancouver Whitecaps staff about the kit snafu on Saturday, in which the Timbers' kits, which have a red front and a white back, clashed with the Whitecaps' all white kits.
As my sources described it, each team submits its preferred kit to the league office, and the league office approves or denies. In Saturday's case the kits were submitted as the fans saw, and the league office approved the selections. But the league office clearly didn't pay enough attention to it to remember that the Timbers' red kits are white on the back.
The referee, then, has the opportunity to request a uniform change at the start of the game. But this part of the process is quite problematic, because, as one source shared, each team typically prepares only one set of kits before a match. Two hours wouldn't be enough time to get a change ready, especially for the away team. The Vancouver FO source I talked to admitted that they might have been able to switch to brown, but it would have been a tremendous undertaking.
As such, both teams also wore the same kits for the reserve match as they did for the first team match. It seemed to present less of a challenge to the players, though, perhaps as a result of the natural sunlight they played under, which seemed to better highlight the differences between the kits.
In their defense, the Timbers thought they were playing it safe by wearing the red/white, which would have contrasted better in case the Caps for some reason wore blue. Merritt Paulson tweeted early in the match that "our understanding was they would be in blue," but he later corrected himself, saying "VAN is always white at home so no last minute switch by them."
Vancouver sources told me the Whitecaps haven't worn their blue kits at home all season -- they nearly always wear white at home. In fact, they've not worn white at home only once this season; on that occasion they wore the brown kits. A quick check of mlssoccer.com's match recaps confirms this point.
The bottom line is, in the future the Timbers front office will need to be extra careful any time they play a team that likes to wear white at home. Before LA Galaxy away, for example, the Timbers will need to communicate with the Galaxy front office to make sure they don't wear blue.
(I'm using "sources" because the whole discussion took place off the record.)
What do you think? Should the Timbers abandon the red/white second kits altogether?