It was clear to anyone who followed the most recent MLS playoffs that the league is most definitely both American and Canadian. This year, it’ll once again be evident in every game, thanks to a ball that even more boldly, dramatically features both nations’ imagery.
The 2017 edition of the official MLS match ball, extends a long-running partnership with adidas, who first began designing the match balls in 2006. So what was unique about this year’s design process?
American and Canadian imagery proved essential to the first impression the ball would make, according to Andrew Walker, product manager for adidas’ global brands, football division. (That’s who designed the ball.) “MLS is the league of North America,” he says. “When designing the ball, we looked to incorporate elements which represent this ethos.”
That started with each country’s flag. Whereas last year’s match ball featured stars, stripes, and maple leaves all interwoven into the parallelograms that dominated the design, the flags’ iconic features stand out more distinctly on the new edition.
But how has the ball design changed over the years? Here’s a visual history of official match balls used throughout the years in regular league play.
The 2017 NATIVO’s blueprint showcases the spirit of adidas Soccer and Major League Soccer blended through a creative design language that highlights the U.S. and Canadian flags, while also featuring a unique texture that will inspire soccer fans across North America to take their game from the stadium to the street.
Here are some more images of the ball, clearly shot in New York City: