New Balance’s new soccer tagline asks players to “make chances” or “take chances.” The Boston-based footwear maker has done so itself, creating its first range of soccer cleats, unveiling them this month by taking the company’s running knowledge and moving that from the track to the pitch.
The foray into soccer cleats comes for New Balance as it increases its presence in soccer, especially in Europe where kit sponsorships of Liverpool, Celtic and Stoke City and player sponsorships of Samir Nasri, Vincent Kompany and Marouane Fellaini, for example, now give the company a place to showcase its two new cleat creations: Visaro and Furon.
“Over 90 minutes, players cover more ground than ever before and the distances run in football far exceed that of any other sport,” says Richard Wright, New Balance’s head of soccer. “We have a very strong heritage in running and applying this expert knowledge to the endurance of high intensity football.”
New Balance says it has created the Visaro for players who make chances and the Furon for those who take chances, not a position-specific creation, but a philosophy-specific design.
The Visaro has a variable Ariaprene (synthetic rubber) upper with differing textures designed for ball manipulation. A flexible soleplate keeps players low to the ground for control and a “medial pivot zone” allow for the flexibility needed to make quick cuts. New Balance has taken its Fresh Foam cushioning made popular in its running line and inserted it to the insole of the Visaro cleats for a cushioned cleat experience.
Furon, designed for the high-impact, high-speed players, comes with a stiffer soleplate for energy return and acceleration and a stud design created for straight-line speed. To help with speed, the engineered synthetic upper merges with mesh and a lightweight “fit cage” to offer support sans the heft.
The nylon outsole mixes with TPU to balance lightweight and strength while using New Balance’s lightweight Revlite cushioning for the insock.
Wright says the modern game of soccer focuses on attacking, so the company worked with its crop of professional players, using athlete-specific data to build two cleats—which launched on July 1—that fit the mindset of all players.
It's clear that New Balance thinks entering the soccer cleat market is a chance worth taking.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.