King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

National teams and patriotic themes demand red, white and blue, not black, mustard and rust. Plus: The secret of spontaneous Stanley Cup team photos.

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The U.S. men’s soccer team came from behind Sunday to beat Mexico 2-1 in the final and win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

It was a historic win for the Americans, who continued their recent dominance over Mexico, winning for the ninth time in 12 tries. It was the first time since 1934 that the U.S. had fallen behind Mexico, then come back and won.

But I want to talk about uniforms.

Not to tread on Paul Lukas’ beat, but faithful reader and soccer fan Paul Thompson passes along the news that the U.S. women’s team has new uniforms, and they are ugly.

The men’s jerseys are no great shakes either. They look vaguely British, somehow, but at least they stick roughly to the color scheme of the American flag.

Or at least to darkened versions of flag blue and red. If you want the real thing, you have to look to officially licensed outerwear.

The women’s team has gone to a dull gold that’s popular in sporting circles these days.

What’s the deal with that? What’s wrong with U.S. flag red, white and blue? Not to put too fine a point on it, as Gregg Easterbrook is fond of saying, but the most successful color scheme in world history.

Fans of the women’s national soccer team can give three cheers for the rust, navy and Gulden’s mustard.

I’m not the flag-wavinest Cub Scout in the pack but I think national teams should wear the flag colors. The Mexican team, among many praiseworthy others, wears the colors of its national flag.

I also think the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Washington Nationals, all of which used to wear red, white and blue and don’t anymore — though the Nationals come close — should all wrap themselves in the flag again immediately, as the Washington Capitals have done.

The Caps deserve praise for ditching their blue, black and copper — three cheers for that mishmash, eh? — color scheme and bringing back Old Glory for next year. The Nationals get a special jeer for changing their colors from flag red, white and blue when they moved to the capital of the United States. Even if the old red, white and blue were the colors of the French flag.

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The Nationals officially wear red, white and blue, but the gold and black trim are so prominent that I have never once looked at that uniform and thought “flag.” Have you?

That is, the way I used to look at the Montreal Expos uniforms and think, “Three cheers!”

The 76ers went from patriotic red, white and blue to that Yankee Doodlest of schemes, black, maroon, gold and blue, which I think are the colors of Bisbee, Ariz.

The Patriots burned the flag in favor of a dull silver and navy scheme with red trim, also ditching one of the greatest logos in sports in favor of one that makes them look like the Postal Service team or something. Or a USFL team.

Even that lame design featured flag blue for a few years before the Pats recognized the problem and went to nautical blue.

I understand the desire of the U.S. women’s soccer team and all these others to move merch, and every time you change things up you’ve got a new batch of gear to sell to the fans. But Gulden’s mustard yellow? Nothing against Gulden’s mustard. I actually like Gulden’s mustard.

But when some gets on my shirt, I change my shirt.

I think sports teams should favor bright colors over dull ones, and all of the above returning to Old Glory would take care of that. But that’s a matter of personal taste. National teams or those with patriotic connections should wear the good ol’ red, white and blue. And that’s not.

Betsy Ross demands nothing less.

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Those spontaneous hockey team photos [PERMALINK]

It’s in-box day around here. Or visual arts day maybe.

Earlier this month, when the Anaheim Ducks — color scheme: black, white and copper … blech! — won the Stanley Cup, I wondered about that hastily assembled team photo the NHL champions always take on the ice, with the team gathered around the Cup.

“Whenever I’m in a group photo,” I wrote, “even if the group is six people, it takes the group and the photographer 10 minutes to get everybody arranged just so. How is it that hockey teams can get themselves posed in 10 seconds?”

There’s actually an answer to that question, and it comes from the guy who took this year’s photo of the Ducks for the Associated Press, Mark Avery.

“You’re right,” he wrote me in an e-mail he’s given me permission to reproduce, “it is impressive how they can get themselves together for a team photo in seconds.

“Let a bunch of people pose themselves, however, and you’ll have a short person behind a tall person and you’ll only see the top of their head or half of their face as they peer around a shoulder. When a professional takes the time to position every person in a group photo, it’s to make sure they can all be seen properly by the camera.

“In a team photo, it’s also usual to place the most important players near the center. [In the Ducks on-ice photo], you can see a couple of partial faces, like I described, and a lot of assistant coaches, trainers and third-string players near the center of the photo, while star players Francois Beauchemin, Dustin Penner, Todd Marchant and Ryan Getzlaf look like afterthoughts in the upper right.

“While fun, this is not a ‘good’ team photo.”

I bet the Niedermayer brothers, flanking the Cup front and center, would disagree with that, and I bet that 20 years from now if anybody in that picture has a team photo of the 2007 Anaheim Ducks on their wall, it’ll be that very one. But it’s true the Ducks would have a hell of a time passing something like this off as a team photo if Lord Stanley’s hardware weren’t in the middle of it.

That’s why you should try to win the Stanley Cup if you’re a hockey player. Makes pictures better.

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