To celebrate a quarter of a century of the MLS, we were commissioned to create a new name and number font. It needed to be contemporary, edgy and to capture all the excitement of matchday football.
Founded in 1993, Major League Soccer (MLS) is now established as the third-most popular spectator sport in the US. Its 24 teams pull in around 20,000 fans per game, as well as some of the world’s best-known players.
As part of its 25th birthday celebrations in 2020, MLS commissioned a new name and number font to be worn on all the teams’ kits. They wanted it to feel edgy and progressive, and able to be used ‘beyond the jersey’, on other products and marketing materials.
“We picked F37 because of their track record in the typography world which we have long admired. Their ability to interpret our needs and translate that into compelling design was clear from the very start. The work fits the tone of our brand, culturally fluid, progressive and modern. They pushed our thinking throughout this process, expanding what we thought was possible and creating something bigger than a new set of name and numbers for our jerseys. Rick was a great listener, a top collaborator and was quick to deliver. ”
David Bruce — Vice President of Brand, MLS
Working alongside MLS, our design uses the idea of the Penrose triangle (or Impossible Triangle) and art by Necker, to create a bold, graphic and dynamic typeface. It’s a simple optical illusion that makes you look twice. And then look again. It seems impossible, but there it is …like magical skills on the pitch.
The font comes in 3 weights and when layered on top of each other, it creates a 'tri-line', something never before seen in football shirt lettering. This creates an energetic, 'swooshing' optical effect, representing the movement and energy in the game, like a Beckham free kick or an Ilsinho step over. The tri-line also symbolically ties into the 3 stars found in the logo. Where possible the angle of the number terminals follows the points of the three stars that appear on the MLS logo.
Like a versatile player capable of shining in any position, the MLS font can be used in many different configurations to suit different applications — MLS Streets is featured on shirts and shorts, whilst the other weights can be used, at the discretion of the league, on banners around stadia, online and for social media.
Bearing in mind that footballers of many nationalities play in the league, we worked on a lot of language support, including a range of accents, ligatures and small caps to cover any eventuality we could think of. We also crafted a specially condensed font for longer names (the Latvian player Andriuškevičius immediately springs to mind!).
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