As the European professional leagues get into full swing, gear guys like me take special note of the new boots players are wearing. (Yes, boots. Not cleats. Not shoes.) What boots is Zlatan in this season? What about Antoine Griezmann? These pros wear an upper echelon of boot that is designed for play far beyond your standard beer-league pickup game. Some of the top technologies in footwear help the best players in the world perform at levels that are inconceivable by most. Three scissors, a Cruyff turn and two more touches before burying it in the top-left corner? No problem. A 70-yard diagonal pass to hit a runner beating the offside trap? In their sleep. To find out what wearing a pair of these pro-level boots feels like, we put three of them to the test on the fields of NYC.
Nike Magista Obra II
The Champion’s Boot
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The Magista Obra II is the second generation of the Magista, and features Nike‘s characteristic over the ankle sock/tongue. The boot is made from a 3D knit upper that is then coated in a resin-like material to make it water resistant. The upper is also textured with fairly sizable peaks and valleys to aid in your touch. The boot construction includes an internal heel counter to keep your foot locked down when cutting or changing direction.
Jack Seemer, Associate Staff Writer: I grew up playing soccer, dedicated to Nike’s Mercurial Vapor family — the line of lightweight, anatomic boots marketed toward strikers. In over a decade, my loyalty has yet to stray; athletes have a way of becoming superstitious, and I’ve always resonated with the idea of minimizing the material between my foot and the ball.
When I put on these Magista Obra boots, which are “designed for the needs of the creative playmaker,” as Nike puts it, I couldn’t help but compare them to my beloved Vapors. I felt like I had similar levels of control over the ball, but none of the foot pain on the toe or heel. The Magista’s flyknit collar was secure, yet flexible, and felt comfortable on quick changes of direction. Am I converted? Too soon to say. But I’m not ruling it out.
Adidas X 16+ Pure Chaos
Pure Touch Paired With Top Speeds
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The X 16+ Pure Chaos features Adidas’s Techfit upper, which molds to your foot as soon as you put the boot on. It allows for essentially no break-in time. The Non Stop Grip coating on the upper is essentially a tacky rubber that grants you maximum control in all pitch conditions, from bone dry to puddle ridden. The heel of the shoe features a pull tab to help get the shoe on that also hugs your achilles and keeps the shoe snug. The heel tab is lined with rubber dots that lock your foot in more securely.
AJ Powell, Associate Staff Writer: The first thing that I thought when I stepped in the X 16+ Pure Chaoses (that’s a mouthful), is that they’re incredibly comfortable. Historically, I’ve been a Nike Vapor wearer, but these had me questioning that allegiance. The touch is soft and consistent. The rubber coating on the outside of each boot allowed for plenty of spin when passing and shooting, and grip when dribbling.
Puma evoSPEED SL Fresh
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The Puma evoSPEED SL Fresh boot is built specifically to allow the maximum amount of ventilation for the foot. The upper is constructed from a specially coated mesh that allows heat to escape, but keeps moisture out. The upper also features a plastic-based overlay on high-wear points — the instep, the area around the big toe, the laces, and the outside of the foot. The evoSPEED SL also has a unique stud pattern. On the heel of each boot, the outside edge has two studs while the inside only has one. Not only does it save weight, but it also allows for easier rotation and change of direction.
Tucker Bowe, Associate Staff Writer: Puma has a certain no-bullshit approach to soccer cleats. On their evoSpeed Fresh cleats, you won’t find any lace cover or sock-like fit. There’s just fabric (mesh), studs and the clear message that these lightweight cleats — only 4.1 ounces — are built for speed. I’m no Adam Lallana, but wearing these, I felt like I could pull off a few Cruyff turns.
Nike Ordem 4
The Nike Ordem 4 was the ball of choice for the Copa America tournament earlier this year. It’s also the official match ball for the 2016/17 Barclays Premier League season. The seams are almost non-existent. It also comes with a two-year stitch and shape guarantee. Buy Now: $160