The start of a new season is upon us, which means it’s time to talk sponsorship! The slate of MLS jersey and sleeve sponsors continues to evolve and grow. Last season, more teams added sleeve sponsors as a way to sell more branded real estate. When the season resumed and the league moved to a bubble in Orlando, short sponsorships were also added to recoup lost sponsor value.
In 2021 short sponsorships are gone, but sleeve sponsorships have grown to accompany the front-of-jersey branding fans are accustomed to seeing. What new brands have attached themselves to MLS? Which teams have added sleeve sponsors? See below for more details.
MLS jersey sponsors
There are 27 teams that will compete in the 2021 MLS regular season, including debutant Austin FC. All but two, Inter Miami and the Colorado Rapids, will dawn a front-of-jersey sponsor to start the season. Four new brands were added to the mix this season, including YETI, MTX Group, FLEX, and Victory Project. The latter is an initiative started by Sporting Kansas City to help children in Kansas City and the Midwest.
YETI will be an interesting sponsor to watch. Given the brand’s history and Austin FC’s penchant for creativity in marketing toward the younger demographics of Austin, the pairing is seemingly a match made in heaven. There’s certainly a lot of potential for disruptive and engaging marketing campaigns by each.
Another fun thing to point out – of the 24 U.S. teams who will play in 2021, 14 sponsors are headquartered in their local market. When you consider the recent partnership of 2023 debutant St. Louis and Purina, it’s great to see regional and national brands supporting their local team.
|Atlanta United FC||American Family Insurance|
|Chicago Fire FC||Motorola|
|FC Cincinnati||Mercy Health|
|Columbus Crew SC||Nationwide Children's Hospital|
|FC Dallas||MTX Group|
|Houston Dynamo FC||MD Anderson Cancer Center|
|Los Angeles FC||FLEX|
|Minnesota United FC||Target|
|CF Montreal||BMO Financial Group|
|Nashville SC||Renasant Bank|
|New England Revolution||United Healthcare|
|New York City FC||Etihad Airways|
|New York Red Bulls||Red Bull|
|Orlando City SC||Orlando Health|
|Philadelphia Union||Bimbo Bakeries / Artesano|
|Portland Timbers||Alaska Airlines|
|Real Salt Lake||LifeVantage|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Intermedia Cloud Communications|
|Seattle Sounders FC||Zulily|
|Sporting Kansas City||Victory Project|
|Toronto FC||BMO Financial Group|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Bell|
MLS sleeve sponsors
At the start of the 2020 MLS season there were five brands featured: Piedmont Healthcare, Caesars Entertainment, Target, Compass Minerals, GE Appliances. That number grew to 48 when MLS allowed teams to utilize both sleeves as a way to recoup lost sponsor value resulting from the pandemic.
At the start of the 2021 season there are 12 brands featured on 10 teams. Four remain from the start of last season, while brands like Netspend, Honey, and Allianz are newly featured.
Among the more intriguing brands is TikTok, who is continuing to make inroads into sports. It will be interesting to see how the Timbers and TikTok bring the partnership to life on the social platform and in-person.
Seattle’s partnership is equally intriguing for two reasons. First, the Sounders have partnered with a local Native American tribe who have called the Puget Sound home for thousands of years. Second, the partnership is an example of the league’s ventures into gambling and entertainment.
|Team||Left Sleeve||Right Sleeve|
|Atlanta United FC||Piedmont Healthcare|
|Los Angeles FC||Postmates||Target|
|Minnesota United FC||Allianz|
|Seattle Sounders FC||Puyallup Tribe|
|Sporting Kansas City||Children's Mercy||Compass Minerals|
|Toronto FC||General Electric|
Show me the jerseys!
Do you have a favorite jersey heading into the season? They aren’t all represented below, but you can’t talk about best jerseys in the league this season and not mention the Galaxy’s historic return, the Union’s electricity, or Seattle’s music collaboration.