The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is just a couple of months away from its first World Cup 2019 game in France, though you’ve probably seen the players in the headlines recently for their lawsuit against soccer’s governing body for equal pay. When they take the pitch in Paris, all eyes are sure to be on them—and not just because of their fight for equality. According to statistics, more Americans watched the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final than that year’s NBA Finals. Fortunately, the three-time and currently defending champions have a striking new kit courtesy of Nike to wear to the tournament. “This is my favorite kit to date. I like the really bold ones, so when you step on the field, people instantly know which team you’re playing for,” says Alex Morgan, a player well known both in the U.S., where she’s an Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, and in the World Cup’s host country, where she played for French club Olympique Lyonnais.
Morgan’s new favorite kit is inspired by the 99ers, the moniker earned by the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team, which won the World Cup after a penalty shootout against China at the Los Angeles Rose Bowl. The team jersey has been updated with three stars to symbolize the team’s three titles, and the names of all 50 states have been emblazoned across the back of the jersey “so the players know that the whole country is behind them,” says Nike’s Scott Munson. For the away uniform, Nike went for a deep red color, accented with hand-painted brushstrokes “to express the artistic mastery of the players.”
But when it comes to elite sportswear, fashion has to function. “I want to feel comfortable,” says forward Crystal Dunn. “I don’t want it to be all about fashion.” The new uniforms therefore are not only made of Nike’s most innovative VaporKnit fabric for optimal breathability, a better range of motion, and super-fast drying, but have also been re-engineered to fit the female soccer physique using Nike’s 3-D body-mapping technology.