The Colorado Rapids of the 2020s share little similarity with the look of those who wore the shirt before them. Since 1996, the Rapids have bounced between five providers, four sponsors, and three rebrands to arrive at the look Coloradans know and love today.
In honor of the Rapids’ 25th Anniversary, please enjoy this catalogue of various kits worn by Denver’s top flight club since the founding of Major League Soccer. I’ve added my thoughts throughout and will continue to update as the Rapids add new looks in the future. – Joseph
1996 – Inaugural Season
Pictured: Scott Benedetti, Steve Trittschuh
Puma partnered with Colorado for the club’s inaugural 1996 season and produced the pictured white and green affairs. Both include the prominent Rapids script across the front that served as the club’s first “crest.” The white kit was usually used as the club’s primary this season, with the green number used interchangeably. Budweiser logos featured on the sleeve and back of both kits, though they would be dropped the following year.
There’s no doubt that the original 1996 kits are subpar offerings when compared to their modern equivalents, but Colorado’s were far from the worst when compared to the rest of the league.
1997 – Reebok Era Begins
Pictured: Wolde Harris
Reebok took over production after Colorado’s first season. While the new provider kept the color scheme, they introduced a few minor changes. Notably, the 1997 offerings contrast directly a lot more compared to 1996. The white primary is closer to a solid white after the departure of the multi-colored sleeves. The green secondary was worn with black shorts. Both featured the a secondary circular Rapids crest for the whole season and the newly-designed Rapids script that would persist until 2001. The Budweiser sponsorship expired after the league’s inaugural season and their logos were excised from Reebok’s offerings.
Pictured: Wolde Harris
Reebok’s final kits with the Rapids were largely unchanged from the year before, with two minor exceptions. First, you’ll notice that the numbers on the front of the jersey moved from the left to the right. Additionally, Pepsi first appeared as a sleeve, back, and short sponsor this season and would continue featuring for several years.
Brief note: sometime between 1997 and 1998, Reebok introduced this green and white striped kit. I haven’t found any evidence of it in action, but it does exist (without a crest, strangely) and is available on eBay.
1999 – Kappa Era Begins
Pictured: Ross Paule
Kappa took the reigns in 1999 and put out two mirroring options for the Rapids at the end of the millenium. The most significant change of the year was the switch in colors for the club’s primary – green becoming the most-worn option. Both kits feature large diagonally-swooping stripes across the front and Pepsi logos scattered throughout.
Pictured: Scott Vermillion, Marcelo Balboa
Kappa kept things as-is when Y2K rolled around, entrenching green as the club’s primary look for another season. This would be the final season where numbers featured on the front of Colorado’s shirts.
Pictured: Robin Fraser, Marcelo Balboa
Kappa opted for a more simplistic approach in ’01 after two years of relatively-busy designs. Both kits featured solid tops with minimal decor and were worn with back shorts. Eagle-eyed viewers will note that the Rapids script on the front dropped the wave that had cut through the text since 1997. Additionally, the club brought back the original 1996 Rapids script featuring the Rocky Mountains as the kit’s crest.
Pictured: Carlos Valderrama
Kappa’s final season as Colorado’s kit provider featured few major changes from the year before other than the addition of white shorts for the secondary and the dropped Pepsi sponsorship. If green’s your favorite, take a good look now because 2002 was the final time the Rapids would don the color.
2003 – Atletica Era Begins
Pictured: Seth Trembly
The Rapids substituted Kappa for Atletica in 2003, which led to a soft rebrand to blue and black as a primary look. The circular, pre-2001 badge made its return in this era and the Mountain-backed Rapids script was relegated to the shorts. If I’m honest, this is my least-favorite era of home kits – primarily because the script and badge appear out of place in front of the new colors. The look seemed aimless.
The road kit was given a refresh this year as well, though its main color remained the same. You’d expect black or royal blue highlights here, but Atletica suck with green.
Image Credit: Colorado Rapids
Philip Anschutz sold the Rapids to KSE at the close of 2003 and the new owners wouldn’t force any major branding changes in 2004. Atletica kept both kits the same, but wouldn’t return to supply the club in the years that followed.
2005 – Adidas Era Begins
Pictured: Kyle Beckerman
Adidas only made minor changes to Colorado’s kits when they took over as the club’s manufacturer in 2005. The most glaring change is showcased on the secondary – stripes formerly just found on the sides were now connected through the center. Both kits introduced the prototypical Adidas three stripe pattern on the sleeves and shorts, which would become a regular fixture.
After accounting for minimal branding changes, there wasn’t much modified on the year’s home kit. Thankfully, we’re only two years from the rebrand – the end of the black and blue experiment.
The jist of the Adidas offerings remained the same in 2006, the final year where the Rapids would don black and blue stripes. Minor changes include the Adidas logo shifting to the upper middle of the shirt from the right shoulder, more black on the home kit’s sleeves, and some cleanup on the secondary’s green highlights.
Image Credit: Sportslogos
2007 – Burgundy Rebrand
Pictured: Colin Clark, Hercules Gomez
The Colorado Rapids rebranded in 2007 in conjunction with their move to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The new look ushered in the club’s current shield-style badge and color scheme, slating burgundy for the primary and sky blue for the secondary.
The overpowering Rapids script from years past was simplified on the primary, with the alternate introducing Colorado to the rotation for the first time.
Pictured: Conor Casey, Christian Gomez
Adidas kept the primary and secondary on lock in the second year of the rebrand.
The Rapids briefly wore a third white top-burgundy shorts number during this era, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence of its use beyond a 2008 friendly against Everton.
Pictured: Omar Cummings, Colin Clark, Pat Noonan
The Rapids dropped the scripts in 2009, opting for a clean look on the front of both kits. The year also was the first to feature the flag of the United States on the left sleeve, a fixture that would remain on the league’s American clubs until 2015.
Pictured: Macoumba Kandji, Mehdi Ballouchy
Another year of minimal changes saw the Rapids hoist MLS Cup at the end of the season. The Canadian Maple Leaf emblem featured on the right breast of Kandji’s kit above was worn by both sides during the Cup Final.
In their title defending year, the Rapids made changes to both of their looks. The burgundy primary substituted its sky blue stripes for white ones and the secondary dropped the color entirely for the club’s first white kit since 2008.
The primary and secondary feature an MLS Cup badge on the right breast in honor of the previous year’s heroics. Additionally, both kits nixed the extraneous collar for good.
Pictured: Omar Cummings, Martin Rivero, Kamani Hill
Nothing of substance changed for Colorado’s look in 2012, though both kits began featuring a star above the crest in recognition of the 2010 cup win. Additionally, halfway through the season, the Rapids added an “MC” badge on the right breast honoring the late Marisa Colaiano, Colorado’s Senior Manager of Community Relations.
We’ve finally reached the era where MLS began publishing high-quality images of kits, so we’re no longer hunting for matchday photos from MLS’s early era. 2013 was the last season Colorado saw a refresh of both their primary and secondary kits (After this year, Adidas would begin the practice of alternating new home and road kits). Both shirts were the first to feature a Colorado flag on the lower left side of the shirt.
The burgundy home look from this year ranks among my personal favorites. Worn with white shorts, this home kit featured faint horizontal stripes honoring the names of all of Colorado’s season ticket members from 2013.
The blue road top was worn with matching shorts and was the first entry in the line of “Colorado Flag” secondaries that would proliferate in the mid-2010s. The shift from the sky blue of years before to royal blue is jarring at first glance, but the sublimated “C” and contrasting highlights make for a very intriguing look.
For one match in October, the Rapids featured “HelpColoradoNow.org” on the front of their tops.
Adidas carried over the flag theme to Colorado’s new home kit in 2014, ditching the season ticket member stripes from the year before. Aside from that there isn’t much of a distinction from 2013. The white accents remained on the primary and the blue road kit remained untouched.
The “C” on both kits is a great touch and I wish more kits experimented with the look.
Pictured: Dillon Serna, Deshorn Brown
Halfway through the year, the Rapids signed a short-lived sponsorship agreement with Ciao, which resulted in the addition of the telecom company’s wordmark and logo on the front of both kits (pictured above).
2015 brought in the new MLS logo (it’s not featured on the official home mockup above, but you can see it in action here) and the first yellow road kit in club history. Love ’em or hate ’em – I prefer the 2017 blue sleeve iteration – there’s no doubt that they were unique in the league.
Both kits maintained the flag-inspired “C” across the middle, as well as the full flag in the bottom left.
Transamerica signed a three year deal to feature on the Colorado’s kits in 2016, becoming the first permanent sponsor in fifteen years (Ciao excluded for obvious reasons).
The burgundy primary got a tiny makeover, as the shirt dropped the background “C” and shoulder stripes. Some faint, dark burgundy stripes were added, but they’re barely visible.
The flag-inspired secondary got its makeover in 2017, dropping the “C” – now gone from both kits – and adding blue sleeves. The kit was styled like a henley with one red and one yellow button.
Third kits made from recycled plastic featured in the league this year for Earth Day, but the Rapids wouldn’t participate until 2018.
White finally left Colorado’s primary kit in 2018, when Adidas introduced a full burgundy top with sky blue accents and shorts. It’s free of bells-and-whistles, but I’m a fan of the look – it’ll likely age very well.
The Rapids participated in the now-league-wide Parley initiative and wore the pictured whites (other clubs wore black alternates).
The final year of the 2010s introduced the “Black Diamond” secondary – a white shirt featuring no black and no diamonds. The new top was worn with plain white shorts and ended six seasons of the flag kit, which I’m still a little bit sore about. The look is nice enough, the problem is just that nearly every team in the league has a plain white kit – it’s nothing really unique in the world of MLS.
The Earth Day recycled kit tradition persisted into 2019. Instead of black and white versions like in 2018, half the clubs were given the teal number pictured above and the other half wore these dark gray alternates.
If you weren’t a fan of the simple nature of the 2018-19 home offering, Adidas added quite a bit of detail to their 2020 design. The most immediately-recognizable change is the three vertical stripes featured on the top’s right shoulder. A closer look reveals faint burgundy stripes adorning the front.
Transamerica signed a one-year extension to feature on Colorado’s kits in 2020.
Currently we don’t know whether or not the Parley kits will make an appearance in 2020. This page will be updated if they do or don’t return.