Somewhat quietly and without fanfare, the Pro Shop at Lumen Field recently began offering fans the option to add a Concacaf Champions League winner’s crest on current shirts. Sounder at Heart has confirmed that the Sounders will wear these patches for the July 9 game against the Portland Woods as part of a larger CCL title celebration, which will also include the raising of the championship banner which will hang in the rafters of Lumen Field.
The patch is gold and will be affixed in the middle of the chest, between the adidas logo and the team badge. The Pro Shop said it will add it to any of the current jerseys for a cost of $12, while supplies last.
Somewhat oddly, however, the current plan is for the Sounders to wear it only once on the field. The only way to wear the patch again is to compete in next year’s CCL, although the Sounders have requested permission to wear it more often.
“We spent a lot of time talking with the team and what their approach was, they were the ones that drove it,” said Taylor Graham, chief revenue and marketing officer for Sounders. “The team’s preference was to wear it for every MLS game from July 9, and that’s not the result we got.”
The exact reason the Sounders were not allowed to wear the CCL patch for more than one game was not immediately clear. After several emails to MLS officials seeking comment and clarification, no response was forthcoming.
While researching what was the most appropriate way to celebrate their historic victory, Sounders officials discovered that there was no global standard for this kind of achievement. In Europe, for example, their Champions League winner wears a patch on his arm throughout the following season, but only when participating in the tournament. Notably, the winner of the UCL is guaranteed a place in the next tournament, guaranteeing the team the opportunity to actually wear the crest, while the winner of the CCL receives no such guarantee. The chest area has been reserved for a crest honoring the Club World Cup winner, which Chelsea wore in all competitions they entered during the 2021-22 campaign.
In South America, however, the winners of the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana both wear their crests in all competitions the following season. In Mexico, there is no official policy, but teams like Monterrey have started putting stars under their crest to signify continental championships.
Complicating the situation in MLS somewhat is that the league had yet to create a policy for celebrating a CCL title, in part because it had never been an issue before. However, there has been an evolutionary way of recognizing MLS Cup winners.
From 2006 to 2011, MLS winners wore a “scudetto” crest on their arm to signify their status as defending league champions, and then a permanent star was placed on the crest a year later. The arm patch ceased to be worn in 2012. In 2016, which is effectively the basis of the current system was put in place, with a gold star on the defending winner’s jersey, silver stars to signify past championships, and a “mega” star to signify five titles. In 2019, that changed again with the ‘mega’ star dropping out. In 2020, a version of the scudetto returned, with winners receiving a modified MLS logo patch containing an MLS cup inside. At the time, it was widely suggested that MLS should also honor the U.S. Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield and potential CCL winners alike, but it apparently didn’t gain much ground in the league office for unknown reasons. With such limited space on the jersey, this would have seemed like a stylish solution.
Given that MLS officials have declined to make themselves available to explain their reasoning, one can only speculate as to why they are reluctant to celebrate CCL winners in a more robust fashion. MLS commissioner Don Garber himself called the CCL final “greatest game in league history”, but apparently sees no value in allowing the Sounders to publicly celebrate the achievement every game. It’s a head-scratching decision to say the least.