To get a more technical perspective on the difference between the two garments, I asked a family member who is retired from many years in clothing manufacturing to review both garments.
The bottom line: the OSI jersey is a somewhat higher quality garment than the Kwik Goal version, but either would serve the purpose just as well.
As noted in my review of the black Kwik Goal jersey, the green KG also offers one feature not offered in the OSI jersey: a handy pen channel in the left pocket.
The professional’s review of the jerseys revealed a few details that were lost on me. For example, the OSI jersey has a discernible “thickness” in both the collar and placket that is absent from the KG jersey. This is due to the use of interfacing fabric in the placket and collar, as you can see in the gallery below.
Why does this matter? After repeated washings, the shape of the OSI collar and placket should hold up better than that of the KG jersey.
Another difference: the collar placket on the OSI jersey is black, while the KG jersey is green. Does this matter? I’m not sure, so I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Finally, there is a slight difference in color shading between the two jerseys. To be fair, I should point out that the OSI jersey has been washed five or six times, while the KG jersey has never been washed. You may be able to see that the KG jersey, on the left in the photo, is slightly darker.
If you’re having trouble seeing the difference, then you’ve got the point. If referees were lined up next to each other wearing alternating KG and OSI jerseys, you may be able to just tell the difference. Honestly, I don’t think most people would ever notice a difference.
Based on the technical review of these jerseys, I’m ready to offer some recommendations.
If you are really serious about refereeing and believe it is important to have “the best”, then the OSI Pro jersey is the best choice.
On the other hand, if you are a new referee just building your uniform collection, I recommend purchasing the Kwik Goal jerseys over the OSI Economy line. For about the same price ($24.95 OSI v $24.99 KG), the Kwik Goal jerseys offer two usable pockets thanks to the velcro flaps, which are absent from the OSI Economy line. Throw in the pen channel and the button up collar, and the KwikGoal jersey is an easy winner over the OSI Economy line.
Finally, if you are an experienced referee who has been holding off on adding to your uniform colors because of the price of the OSI Pro Jerseys, the Kwik Goal jersey is a perfectly serviceable alternative. At $33 shipped (amazon.com) vs $56 shipped (officialsports.com), the Kwik Goal jerseys would be a great cost-saving alternative for those rarely worn blue and green colors.
A quick post script: if you are concerned about supporting US Soccer through its’ official partners, rest easy. Both OSI and Kwik Goal are official “Technical Partners” of US Soccer.