Heading into the 2015 season (their 20th campaign), Major League Soccer made two significant changes to their brand: first, they overhauled the MLS logo from the usual ball and boot square logo to a fresh minimalistic crest logo (which had mixed reviews). Secondly, the American soccer league updated the official game ball.
The new soccer ball has been an annual change for MLS since 2010, when they introduced the polarizing Adidas Jabulani game ball. The widely scrutinized Jabulani ball was launched ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Many players around the world described the ball as “dreadful”, “horrible” and “terrible”. Brazilian forward Robinho went as far as saying, “for sure the guy who designed this ball never played football. But there is nothing we can do; we have to play with it.”
The Jabulani ball, however, did not last long. MLS went with the updated Adidas Prime (a ball derived the from Jabulani, but with the kinks worked out) for the 2012 season. The professional soccer league has gone with some form of Adidas game ball ever since.
Prior to Adidas, MLS deployed Mitre, Kappa and Puma soccer balls. The Mitre Ultimax, MLS’s first official game ball, lasted longer than any other official ball in the league (five years). After Mitre’s reign, Italian sports company Kappa signed a four-year deal to become the official ball of MLS. Although a deal was struck, the Kappa ball was only used for two full seasons (2001 & 2002).
Puma took over in 2003, when the German sportswear company produced a soccer ball with dimples, similar to a golf ball. Puma stated that the, “Dimple CW System is for unbeatable control and straight trajectory. The dimples cause less drag and more lift than a regular surface which provides further, higher and faster shooting speed”.
Following a three-year contract with Puma, MLS settled with Adidas for the 2006 season.
After seeing the history of MLS official game balls, which one is your favorite?
1996-2000 MLS ball
2001-2002 MLS ball
2003-2004 MLS ball
2005 MLS ball
2006 MLS ball
2007 MLS ball
2008 MLS ball
2009 MLS ball
2010 MLS ball
2011 MLS ball
2012 MLS ball
2013 MLS ball
2014 MLS ball
2015 MLS ball
Thanks to Reddit user JohnMLTX for the images.