words // Matt Krueger
After playing soccer for 13 years, I must say I’ve gone through a fair amount of cleats – from my first pair of cheap, off-brand, all-black boots that my parents chose, to my first pair of super lightweight adidas F50 adiZero firm grounds, the newest era of soccer design and play. But, as long as the fit is right, I’ve learned to adapt to play in anything that is thrown my way. Does that mean I don’t have favorites? Definitely not, but given the chance to try some new boots is always exciting, especially the new design of a cleat I’ve worn in the past. So when asked to test out the newest Nike Total 90 Strike III FG after having already worn the initially made Nike Air Zoom Total 90 II and III FGs, I couldn’t wait to get on the field and check out the new features.
After opening the box, my first thought was, “This is a great-looking cleat!” Its sleek design in the metallic Grey/Volt colorway definitely set the shoe off. I took specific interest in the Shot Shield technology, which reminded me of the past adidas Predator(s) and the power swerve technology. However, the Shot Shield seemed to emphasize power rather than ball curve. The studs looked very aggressive, as if Nike put much thought into minimizing slippage. I had two initial concerns: weight at 11.4 ounces (which doesn’t count added weight from when they’re wet) and breathability due to the thickness of the performance-grade leather.
Before I make this statement, I want to make known that I rarely ever get blisters from new boots, which is something I know many players have a huge problem with. However, talk about a shoe that is ready to go immediately right out of the box with minimal break-in necessary. This may change if you are a player that buys a half size smaller and then needs the break in to stretch the leather for maximum comfort and touch on ball. I felt no discomfort or rubbing in the main areas (balls of feet, Achilles, or heel) where blisters usually occur thanks to the snug fit of the molded EVA sockliner throughout the boot. I will say the toe box was a bit narrow, but still comfortable for my liking.
As I mentioned earlier, breathability was a main concern for me. I normally stick to thinner premium-grade (Total 90 Laser) or Kangaroo leather compared to the performance-grade (Total 90 Strike). For me, the cleats were quite warm and didn’t breath as well as I would have liked, which I attributed to the thickness of the performance-grade leather.
As far as first touch and ball control, I’m one that likes to be able to feel the ball with my toes as if there is no barrier between foot and ball. Although I was able to feel the ball fairly well, the thicker leather still restricted me from full touch.
Outsole and Studs
The structure of the cleat box is built extremely well and designed for maximum traction in all weather conditions. Two central, perpendicular cleats in the forefoot allow for quick stop and start at any turns. With a cleat system structured similarly to a soft ground cleat along with the comfort of wearing firm grounds, Nike did great work with the TPU outsole in minimizing slippage and maximizing grip.
Power Swerve & Shot Shield
The idea behind this design is to create a natural spin on the ball without much effort while creating more power through the addition of the rubber “pads” located on the instep. Some say myth, some say fact on the idea. I, for one, believe both designs do have some effect, especially since I am not a strong shooter. The elite athlete can bend and shoot the ball well in any shoe. So, is the design necessary? Maybe not, but it definitely doesn’t hurt and certainly only adds to this already great looking boot.
“Nike just isn’t soccer . . .” – This was the previous consensus of the soccer world. I believe the opinion has changed as Nike is determined to appeal to the minds of the growing United States soccer audience and global soccer markets in general. Overall, I rate the Nike Total 90 Strike III FG a B. This boot is structurally sound, well built, and has a creative design that turns heads. For the decent price of $99.99, the Total 90 Strike will not fail those wanting to play their game through a full 90 minutes, and if need be, finish their opponent in extra stoppage time.
Available now: Nike Total 90 Strike III FG