When Adi Dasler first put on Adidas' latest soccer cleat, the Ace16+ Purecontrol, he did so because he was looking for added stability. The new laceless soccer cleat harkens to Dasler’s roots, eliminating those annoying shoestrings and relying solely on the three stripes for security and fit.
Unveiling the its latest soccer creation this season, Adidas aims to give players additional control over the ball, without bumpy laces getting in the way. With three points of stability, including an interior knitted “cage,” the TPU three stripes on the mid foot and the Primeknit—Adidas’ version of engineered yarn—across the top, Peter Hong, Adidas merchandise manager, tells SI.com they put a premium on feeling and control with this design.
“My whole career I have tried to minimize the impact of laces on my strike and ball control,” says Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. “In the changing room I knot the laces over and over again and then tuck in the ends, that way they do not interfere with my touch.”
Hong says creating a product without laces was challenging on a technical level. With the point of laces to secure a snug fit, Adidas spent 24 months creating the new system, which also includes an elevated collar, enlarged heel pocket and a redeveloped sole plate to reduce the overall weight of the shoe.
New York Red Bull Sacha Kljestan tells SI.com he remembers the first time he saw the cleat when at the Adidas North American headquarters in Portland. “We were all kind of in awe,” he says. “But immediate questions come up in your head. Will it be snug enough? Will it fit? It was fun to get the cleat and try it on.”
Kljestan says he was surprised that the cleat fit as well and was as comfortable as it was. And for him, comfort is the most important part of a cleat, often choosing old-school leather for that reason. Kljestan wanted to try the laceless version, though, even with its mix of materials for the way he could strike the ball on the larger surface area.
With the Primeknit across the top, Kljestan says it doesn’t stretch too much and feels like soft padding. “I have an interesting way of striking the ball—a knuckleball shot—so this shoe is perfect for me,” he says. “You can use that little bone on the center of the top of your foot for shooting.”
Kljestan says he also notices the weight reduction—with no laces and the yarn material the Purecontrol comes in at 7.9 ounces.
In an effort to give players what Hong calls the purest striking zone possible, the 75-plus-year-old company dipped into history and returned by eliminating something it produced on every pair of soccer cleats they've ever made: laces.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.