This Year’s Best Soccer Gear: A position-by-position breakdown

This Year’s Best Soccer Gear: A position-by-position breakdown

Soccer Gear Guide Featured Image

The grass has been cut. The lines have been painted. It’s time to head back to the soccer field. Eastbay is here to help make this your best season yet. We’ve got a massive collection of the best soccer gear from the biggest brands, so you’re sure to find the perfect fit. And, to make it easy on you, we even divided our soccer cleats by player type, so you can make sure you lace up the right way. Check it out below:

TOP CLEATS

Players looking for speed

Nike Mercurial Superfly 7 Elite

Nike Mercurial Superfly 7

After bursting onto the scene in 2009, Nike’s Superfly line became a staple of speed at the professional level. Worn by some of the best players in the game, the newest Mercurial Superfly has improved traction with a slightly stiffer chassis and the Nike Aerow Trac zone in the forefoot. These boots also feature a 360-degree Flyknit Dynamic Fit collar that wraps your foot for a comfortable, second-skin fit.

adidas X 19.1

adidas X 19.1

Show off your speed with the perfect lightweight boot from the brand with the three stripes. The adidas X 19.1 cleats offer a thin SpeedMesh upper for a lightning-quick look and feel. These cleats also utilize a SpeedFrame outsole for traction and stability that doesn’t weigh your foot down.

Nike Mercurial Vapor 12 Elite

Nike Mercurial Vapor 12

Looking to burn past the back four with devastating explosiveness? Look no further than the Nike Mercurial Vapor 12 cleats. The elite version of these boots provides Flyknit technology that is lightweight and flexible for agile comfort. They also feature a two-part podular plate system that flexes with your foot for responsive speed with every step.

Players looking for striking and ball-handling

adidas Nemeziz 19.1

If your game revolves around displaying flashy footwork and finding the back of the net, you have to check out the adidas Nemeziz 19.1 cleats. The durable, textile upper and torsion system provide a comfortable, locked-down fit while the TPU-injected outsole keeps you stable when striking the ball. These boots will adapt to your foot for customizable style that stands out on the pitch.

adidas Predator 19.1

adidas Predator 19.1

Is precision the name of your game? Then you need to take a look at the adidas Predator 19.1 cleats. These boots offer a textured control skin coating for a confident touch when dancing around an opponent or hitting top corner on a strike. They also have a stretchy collar that wraps around your foot to provide a snug fit without sacrificing ankle movement.

Nike Phantom Venom Elite

Nike Phantom Venom Elite

Take control of your strikes with the Nike Phantom Venom Elite cleats. These innovative boots include blades on the instep to help create spin and direct the flight of the ball. They also feature flywire cables that offer better lockdown to keep your foot securely in place when making that game-winning kick.

Nike Phantom Vision Elite

Nike Phantom Vision Elite

Block out all distractions and make the precise play with Phantom Vision cleats. With an innovative Ghost Lacing system, these cleats feature a flat surface placed over the laces for clean strikes every time. They also utilize premier Quadfit mesh construction that fits to your foot like a sock, offering a comfortable, stable feel.

Players looking for touch and comfort

Nike Tiempo Legend 8 Elite

Nike Tiempo Legend 8 Elite

Nike’s legendary Tiempo cleats continue to be one of the most reliable choices on the market. The Tiempo Legend 8 Elite cleats feature soft, premium kangaroo leather that delivers unrivaled touch and control. They also utilize a flyknit tongue and quad-fit mesh lining for a supportive, comfortable feel all game long.

adidas Copa 19.1

adidas Copa 19.1

Lace up a pair of adidas Copa 19.1 cleats and instantly improve your first touch. These boots also feature super soft kangaroo leather that helps you orchestrate in comfort while a molded vamp brings you closer to the ball for confident control.

But to dominate on the soccer field, you’ll need more than just the best cleats – you’ll need the latest apparel and equipment too. Here’s a quick rundown of the added pieces you can grab to complete your game.

TOP APPAREL

soccer apparel

Maximize your potential by training in Nike Strike Apparel. Made with lightweight, breathable Dri-FIT material, Strike apparel is engineered to keep you cool and comfortable throughout a day on the pitch. The Nike Strike Shorts are a top choice for the serious soccer player. Featuring zippered pockets for secure storage space and an elastic waistband with a flat drawcord for a snug fit, these shorts are a must-have. To shop the rest of our Strike collection, visit eastbay.com.

We also carry a variety of Nike Academy apparel, available in men’s, women’s, and kids’ sizes. Two of our hottest items from the Academy line are the Women’s Knit Tank and the Men’s Knit Hoodie. The tank features a racerback design that allows a natural range of motion while the hoodie is constructed of Dri-FIT fabric and a multipanel hood for warmth and comfort in less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Finally, if you’re team adidas, we recommend shopping our selection of Tango apparel. Designed to be the perfect combination of style and performance, adidas Tango apparel is built for the soccer obsessed. One of our favorite items is the Tango Logo Jersey T-shirt because it combines the iconic adidas look with comfortable, lightweight fabric so you can look good and play even better.

TOP EQUIPMENT

Get the protection you need with the Nike Flylite Shin Guards. These guards are lightweight and flexible, so they won’t get in the way when making plays. Geometric columns and webbing replace traditional foam, holding the guard up off your leg to keep you dry and comfortable. For added protection when heading a volley or just playing physical, we recommend checking out the Storelli Sports ExoShield Head Guard. Weighing only eight ounces, this head guard is built with combat-grade viscoelastic foam that conforms to your head for maximum security and fit.

We didn’t forget about goalies! When it comes to gloves, we suggest one of the two following options. The Nike Vapor Grip 3 Gloves feature Grip3 technology that helps you make tough saves from anywhere in the box. On the other hand, the Storelli Sports Exoshield Gladiator Legend 2.0 Gloves are chock-full of padding and support for game-long, stable protection.

Of course, there is no soccer game without a soccer ball. The Nike Magia Soccer Ball is the perfect choice for any surface in any conditions. The Nike Aerowtac grooves provide a perfect flight pattern while a textured casing gives this ball incredible touch and feel. Another solid choice is the adidas Context 19 ball. The thermally bonded, seamless surface gives the player complete control and reliable performance with every kick.

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator.

words & images // Zac Dubasik
interview // Zac Dubasik and Nick DePaula

When it comes to soccer, few shoes, if any, carry the reputation and prestige that the adidas Predator does – even 17 years after it was originally introduced. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though, when you consider the impact that the original had on the footwear industry. From the sharp rubber fins of its upper, to its high price tag, the Predator introduced a new era not only of design, but of performance, to soccer footwear. And it’s remained not only relevant, but cutting edge all of these years by constantly placing emphasis on performance for each of the 10 subsequent releases since the original.

The latest and most modernized interpretation of the Predator, the 8.2-ounce adiPower Predator, includes updates like a sleek and targeted rubber Predator element, Sprint Frame construction best known from the adiZero line, and a refined Powerspine. We caught up with adidas Business Unit Director of Soccer, Antonio Zea, to talk about the history of the line, to discuss details of the adiPower Predator, and we even found out about which color he debuted at the Oregon Adult Soccer Association.

Zac Dubasik: I remember when the Predator was first introduced. I didn’t even play soccer, but as someone that always has followed shoes, it was still a huge deal. Could you talk a little bit about the legacy of the Predator and why it’s still so important today?

Antonio Zea: The franchise started in 1994, and it was a shoe that essentially changed the industry. It was a product that really focused on a specific attribute for a player, which is talking about power as well as swerve and control, but really focusing on power. It was completely radical in terms of its design, bringing in materials that hadn’t previously been used with rubber. The look of the shoe was just so different than anything else out there. Soccer shoes, for so long, were really about the material and about leather and about feel and touch. This was really focusing on another part of the game that had never really been talked about before, in terms of product design. When Predator came in, it revolutionized the game, but it also took a little while to really grab a hold, because it was so different looking, and it felt different, so players really had to take a little time to get used to it. But, it essentially grew into the largest franchise that we’ve had. Over time, the evolution of the shoe itself, in terms of new technologies, exchangeable stud systems, external heel counters, and all the best technologies went into the shoe, and the shoe quickly became the benchmark of the industry. And everyone waited for the Predator.

Nick DePaula: In terms of legacy, could you talk about some of the technology and performance milestones along the way?

I wouldn’t say we joke about it now, but to put the most recent products against [the ’94 version] on a table, it was much heavier. Weight has really been something we’ve looked at in terms of: How can we shave this much weight off? How can we give the player the lightest product that they can possibly have to help them perform. The other one is really the Predator element itself and how it was incorporated into the upper. We don’t want to have too many big things. We used to have this massive rubber piece on there, and now it’s really become much more incorporated into the upper itself, to provide maximum performance in wet and dry conditions and really give the player that edge. The other things are much more technical pieces of just how we construct the outsole, in terms of outsole weight. We’ve taken some of the technology cues from F50, where we’ve built the lightest soccer shoe on the market, and brought that into Predator. So, it’s really lightweight through geometry. Instead of adding more stiff materials, we’ve reduced a lot of weight; we’re 25 percent lighter than the previous Predator. And that’s certainly helped, and over time, we’ve gotten to this place. The actual configuration has changed only slightly; we’re just trying to evolve that over time. And the upper, we just want to create a comfortable-fitting shoe that is really something a player can pull out of the box, and often times, wear in a game that day.

adidas adiPower Predator Design Rendering.

ZD: You mentioned that the original Predator was focused on power. Has that ever changed over the years?

It’s certainly changed over time, because, really, the game has changed also. People are going to shoot the ball as hard as they can. You see free kicks, and you see during the run of play, people want power on the ball. But we certainly want to make sure that also that finesse part of the game, and the control part of the game, are accentuated as well. You see specific players now are owning the game and controlling the game. [We are] constructing a shoe and building a shoe so it focuses on that part, and not really just focusing on power, but focusing on the other parts of really controlling a game: long passes and accurate passes, and pieces of that nature that are much more prevalent in the game today. What’s very interesting is that when you look at how the game is analyzed as well, players are now looking at how many touches they have on a ball and how many passes they’ve completed instead of just going out there and thumping it – and everyone still wants to see the 30-yard bomb in the corner – but we’re really looking at how the game has changed and the different parts of the shoe that you’re using to pass the ball in different ways: outside the foot, inside the foot; accuracy versus straight power.

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator.NDP: Can you talk a little bit about the development timeline for the shoe and the weartesting that went into it?

Normally our development process is 18 months. With a product like this, and it’s safe for me to say that the predator is the absolute most important shoe in the company, it starts actually much earlier. It’s usually about two years before that we are starting to develop sketches, technologies and what the story is of the shoe itself. We actually built this shoe by going back to a few traditional methods, like the traditional tongue construction. We really took cues from players that we’d spoken to on the previous version, and they said they wanted the traditional construction instead of the mono-tongue. We really went back to a simpler construction in terms of the design itself. Ironically, in the shoe that I have here [holds up adiPower Predator], you see the difference in the Predator element and the upper itself. We started off with this little flap and looked at how we could increase the area of that kicking surface. When we came back, just from listening extensively to players: We’d rather just have the area smaller and not have this piece that overlaps into the tongue area. Just little things like that. From a conceptual perspective, we were pretty set on where we wanted the shoe to go. And then, it was really fine-tuning those little pieces: putting a different kind of lining in there to add maximum comfort, what the stud configuration looked like. We’re still having the power piece in there. The previous version had a much larger Powerspine in there. Powerspine is a really simple technology. It bends one way; it doesn’t bend the other. You don’t lose deformation in the shoe, and you don’t use power when you shoot. We’ve actually minimized that as much as we possibly could, to where the player actually needs it. It still gives them power and continues with that story, but really focuses on control. And kids are about weight all the time these days, so we reduce weight as much as we can. Twenty-five percent – that’s going to be a big statistic that we can go out there and tell kids.

NDP: With adiZero being such a big brand initiative, is there still a zone you want to keep this in? Or do you want to take it even lighter?

At some point, it’s a zero sum game. We are only going to be able to go so far before we have the outsole and duct tape, and that’s about it [laughs]. We want to make sure, instead of talking about specific weights, that we are making the highest-performing shoe as well as the most stable shoe, and a shoe that continues to protect players and gives them what they need. A guy like me, I wear a size nine, and a guy that wears a size 13, bigger guys, smaller guys, faster guys, we all have different needs in a shoe. We don’t want to sacrifice anything in the product itself. We’ve had to balance out that weight reduction as well as building in stability. And this was a clever way to do it in terms of the geometry. The foot doesn’t bend there [points to outsole], so we’ve got that build into the outsole, while giving maximum flexibility in the forefoot.

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator.

ZD: So, with the adiPower line, even though minimizing weight isn’t the primary goal, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still important?

In all of the shoes that we are building, we certainly don’t want to make them heavier. We know that light weight and reduction of weight is a key selling point to players, and we want to continue that. We didn’t necessarily take Predator and say that were going to “Predatorize” adiZero. We said let’s take cues and things that we know work in adiZero and apply them to other products. We took lessons learned and best practices, and still retained the key pieces of Predator, like the leather, the Predator element and all the key pieces that make it the Predator.

ZD: Could you detail the stud shape and configuration?

We incorporated the heel counter into the actual outsole itself. We’ve reduced pieces, because in the past, we’ve always had two pieces. So it reduced weight there. The traction configuration hasn’t really changed over time in terms of the actual stud shape, or the configuration. We’ve just really maximized performance, while also maximizing injury protection. The beautiful thing about this stud configuration is it gives you maximum traction as well as being able to release during linear motion and rotational motion, so you don’t get injuries. We’ve been actually able to track this; we do rotational studies and torsion studies, and all sorts of studies like that. The thing that we have added, though, and what we did take from F50 as well is the diamond-shaped stud in the center to help with maximum acceleration and deceleration. That’s probably the only difference that we’ve done on this. This is a tried-and-true outsole. It works for us, and we’ll continue with it.

ZD: Could you talk about why that in an American football cleat, or even a baseball cleat, you’ll see a stud positioned right at the toe tip, but you don’t have that in soccer.

The actual motions that a soccer player is doing don’t use a lot of that toe-off, like a football player is using. … Soccer play is much more liner and lateral, so we don’t really need that. When this stud configuration was actually created, it was a huge change from a round stud, which everyone had been wearing for such a long time. The bladed stud was allowed to give you maximum traction with maximum comfort. The round stud was focusing the pressure on certain areas [of the foot]. The bladed stud was actually dispersing the stud pressure in a different way. We used to actually give shoes to players and say, “Go out there and jump on the concrete and see if you feel anything.”

NDP: I remember exclusively playing in the round, and they felt terrible. [everyone laughs]

I used to play in the replaceable screw-in studs, and the ball of my foot was perpetually a 5mm-thick piece of dead skin, because all the pressure was just localized there. So, with this configuration, it definitely disburses the pressure, but still continues to give you maximum traction.

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator - adiPower Outsole

ZD: Even though there’s a ton of technology in the upper, I still see a lot of premium leather. Could you talk about why that element is important?

Soccer is an interesting game, and adidas, being the global leader and the U.S. leader, we certainly don’t want to take away from certain aspects of the game; it’s a very human game. It’s linked very deeply to a lot of really important emotions that we all exhibit on the field of play. Leather is all about touch. By giving the best leather that we can, it’s allowing the player to have comfort as well as the ultimate touch on the ball.

adidas adiPower Predator Leather ToeAnd conversely, we’ve got the shiny, shiny, shiny gold David Beckham shoes with synthetic leather. There are kids these days that want to make a statement on the field. They want bright colors. Also, with synthetic leather, there’s less upkeep on it, because it’s certainly not a natural material. And I think kids are certainly gravitating towards the shiny colors. If you go into any sporting goods store, or any soccer specialty store nowadays … the colors are everywhere.

NDP: You mentioned Beckham. Could you talk about some of the other athletes that will be wearing these?

Key guys that we have now are Robin van Persie, who plays for Arsenal and Holland, and Nani, who plays for Portugal and Manchester United. He’s actually wearing F50 right now, and he’ll switch into Predator. That’s a very high-profile player on a high-profile team. And another big player is Kaká. He’s wearing adiPure, and he’ll switch into Predator as well. He plays on Madrid and Brazil. We are really looking to reinvigorate the silo and bring guys back. Everybody knows Predator, so it’s great to bring it back into the public’s view, and the kids’ view, who’ve now been watching a lot of Lionel Messi in F50 lately. And then we are even going to go a little more crazy, with the purples and rainbow colors that actually linked to our Champions League ball. We are really trying to tell holistic stories and get kids to not just wear the black-based shoes. That stuff is great, but I think you can put more on a shoe now.

NDP: You mentioned that the eyestay and tongue cover were some of the changes. Was there anything else along the way that was a big shift in comparison to past Predators?

I would probably say, from a design perspective, we’ve gone back to what we’ve seen in past Predators actually, where the branding is much more visible. When you are watching games, you are seeing the shoe on the field of play much more visibly. Recent Predators have had more flowing Stripes and in different directions. We wanted something that spoke to adidas again, and that’s been a big change for us, even from the Predator that we have previously.

NDP: Which color would you wear?

I actually just wore this color [points to Sharp Blue/Electricity/Black colorway] Monday night in a game. I debuted the Predator in my soccer game, in a 1-1 draw, in the co-ed Oregon Adult Soccer Association. [laughs] I try to wear as many of our shoes as possible, and luckily I’m a sample size. I want to know what they feel like and get out there to kick around. It’s funny, because people are looking at me like, “What do you have on your feet?”

Available now: adidas adiPower Predator

Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator
Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator White
Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator White
adidas adiPower Predator Design Rendering.adidas adiPower Predator Design Rendering.adidas adiPower Predator Design Rendering.Antonio Zea Details the adidas adiPower Predator