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In this three-part special report, we delve into what’s happening with soccer in Atlanta. We take a look at the game in the A through the eye of influential people in the worlds of sneakers, art, music, and fashion. Soccer is reaching into areas in Atlanta that it never has before, and the culture that is growing in the city is something different than what has been seen up until this point in the US.
When you see soccer pitches at the metro station, hip-hop icons in the stands, 70,000+ fans in those stands, and a fan base that reflects what is arguably the “blackest city in America”; the soccer culture on and off the pitch in ATL is unique to the Dirty South. It is only fitting that the team took care of business and brought home the cup.
Soccer, football, the beautiful game – whatever you want to call it – yet again unites those with a passion towards the sport outside of the game itself. Creators of the Game is an ongoing mini-series presented by Red Bull that sees soccer bringing together five different artists, each with their own unique background and style. Featured in the above episode is LA-based artist Joshua Vides, top U.S. soccer freestyler Indi Cowie, Miami hip-hop artist Twelve’len, street photographer Jenny Abrams, and street artist ABSTRK, all of which share in-depth their own personal stories and experience surrounding the game. Hit play to watch the seven and a half minute-long video, then be sure to keep tabs on the channel for more episodes to come.
Art and soccer go hand-in-hand – that’s obvious. We see the marriage displayed on our favorite soccer jerseys, we see it on posters, campaigns, and art projects from a novice fan to a recognized artist… there’s art even found in how the beautiful game is even played – many argue that soccer itself is a form of artistic dance. Does it lie in the beauty of art though? Or in the beauty of the game? Perhaps both! Either way, it’s a marriage we always enjoy, no matter the genre, so when we heard OG graffiti legend Saber was involved in adidas Football’s recent Energy Mode X18 event here in Los Angeles, we jumped at the chance to speak with the man to get his thoughts on the relationship between art and soccer, as well as how and why he’s particularly involved, where he would like to see the shared cultures going in the future, and much more.
So, to start, what’s your relationship with soccer?
The first thing I can say is that I played soccer when I was about five… I don’t know shit. I know nothing. World Cup? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? I don’t know what it is. Football… Futbol? Okay… I’ve always appreciated the sport, but then I get sucked into this gig and I’m like okay cool, let’s go! So then I start researching – I didn’t really know much about ‘street league,’ I don’t know about a Tango League – I didn’t know anything about this… But I start seeing videos, I start seeing what these kids are doing and the energy, the technical aspects of how talented these kids are, and I thought it was really cool, man. There’s a lot of energy behind it and I thought that was really moving. When I saw the momentum and saw the energy, I thought that was really cool. It seems like something that’s very positive. I like that it’s aggressive. I also like that it can get aggressive, that it’s pretty hardcore. It can get pretty intense. With street soccer and graffiti, we’re all kind part of being born out of concrete to a certain degree, and I think the competitive spirit might be similar. I don’t do graffiti much anymore – I’m too old and have kids and shit like that, but back in the day we were always are unstoppable.
That’s how people are describing soccer players now: as being “unstoppable.”
Yeah, I was unstoppable back then!. Nothing could stop me, nothing!
So back then, did you see any sort of marriage between the street art/graffiti world and soccer? Do you see it happening now?
Well honestly, for me those worlds didn’t even combine. They didn’t even exist together. So I think adidas, with their efforts and the Tango league and street soccer aspect, it’s nice to see adidas sponsoring these things and making these things happen. It’s only going to grow, and these kids are very competitive! So yeah, clearly they’re going to grow the sport and grow it into something bigger and maybe America will embrace “football” as opposed to [American] “football.” I don’t even watch it. I like violence, so I like watching jujitsu and people killing each other. Other than that, I don’t follow sports and I don’t have time… I’m too caught up with other stuff. But still, I think the energy is very similar and I think what translates that energy is when you have the fashion, you have the momentum of it. You have that action, and I think there are similarities between soccer and art with that.
You can look at other countries where it’s easier to see both cultures of street soccer and graffiti side-by-side – both born from the streets. I mean, you go to a place like Brazil and you’ll have a pickup game on the streets amidst a whole bunch of graffiti, some kids partaking in both. Is that something you’d like to see more of in America?
Absolutely. I would love to see that. That seems to be a more healthy environment. We were born out of the gang mentality. So we didn’t really want to open up to anybody, you know? We kept to ourselves. I think this could be a good bridge – a cultural bridge – between the two worlds and more: music, skateboarding, streetwear… anything really!
While the world is aware that brands like to put in money and effort into their campaign events, it’s safe to say that as of late adidas has risen the bar, especially with what they’ve done out here in Los Angeles – their 747 event for basketball back in February being a prime example. Last week the sportswear giant went at it again for its soccer division to celebrate its latest innovation for the sport, coinciding of course with the 2018 World Cup. If you’ve been following us – and any other soccer-orientated platform for that matter – you’ll already be well aware of adidas Soccer’s X18+ silhouette, a slim and sleek, laceless offering that focuses on the power of speed. It’s been dubbed “the fastest and lightest laceless boot available.”
Highlighting its release, the X18+ Energy Mode event brought in crowds to experience a live customization of adidas soccer kits, enjoy the open bars and food courtesy of Sweet Chick, and to witness a live Tango League with an MVP to be chosen to win a trip to Russia to compete in the global Tango League final. Rolling up to the event, which took place at adidas’ The Base location in Los Angeles – yup, the same as where we hold our The Association game nights – we were set loose to enjoy all the aforementioned happenings and then some.
While soccer was very much the main focus of the day, adidas managed to mix in music and art with the beautiful game by inviting OG Graffiti legend Saber, who conducted a live art installment that saw him spray painting over a wall of soccer balls, each being handed out to the public along with a Saber signature. The main event, however, was when adidas brought out Queens-native Rich the Kid who got the crowd into a frenzy. To cap the night off, a squad of motorbike riders tore up the cement outside – from wheelies to donuts – all in a bid to create some near-deafening noise to celebrate the Tango League MVP winner: Melvyn Owen Perez Cortez – congrats, kid!
While we managed to enjoy ourselves at the event, if there’s a work opportunity, you know we’ll take it, so we asked adidas if they could sit us down with its soccer division’s merchandising manager Joseph Sleven to talk all things X18+, as well as his thoughts on the current landscape of soccer culture. Check out the interview below, as well as our official visual recap of the event throughout.
To start, can you summarize adidas’ new X18 Energy Mode pack for those that are still unfamiliar with the innovation?
Put it frankly, the thought process behind the design of the shoe was to build something for the fastest player possible, down to the look, down to the field, down to the weight. Everything about it is supposed to enable our most explosive – our fastest players – to perform at their top level.
So there’s obviously a lot of aspects when it comes to playing soccer in terms of product design. Why focus on speed for this release?
When we create the range, and when we look at our footwear, there’s any number of players that take part or participate in the game. So for us, the predator is that person who controls the game, they dictate the tempo, their touch, their field or class… everything they do can kind of permeate throughout the team. X players are extremely explosive with getting to the end of the pitch and putting the ball in the back of the net. Nemesis is for those agility players who are really unpredictable – they don’t really fit into a box. Maybe they’re floating around the field but they have these moments of magic that you can’t recreate. And then the Copa is the boot. It’s the soccer player… It’s almost your favorite player’s favorite boot. So everything within that portfolio speaks to different players of the game recognizing that no two players are the same.
Can you speak about the thoughts behind the X18+’s colorway and the overall aesthetics of the shoe?
Well, first and foremost it needed to look fast and speak specifically to that speed player. So you look at its sleek minimalistic design and all these elements which are kind of pulling back and giving it that almost movement visual – even when it’s stagnant it looks like it’s moving. That’s what we want for the speed silo. When we talk about the flash you have these iridescent parts at the branding, as well as on the sole of the shoe. When we talk about colorway, again when you’re on the field you want it to pop. You want something that really jumps out. So this blue is really shocking, it kind of jumps out at you and it really speaks to this silo because it’s like nothing else within the footwear family right now. When we talk about being fashion-forward, with bringing it on to the street or into the cage, the fact that it’s laceless for us is our top technology. We wanted that to be something that also lent itself to being worn with shorts or as you can see in the cage. It doesn’t just necessarily have performance tooling only. There’s a lot of, I would say, fashionable detailing in there, whether it be raises where there would be lasing, or for that speed look, we’ve given it that see-through aesthetic on the upper, or even the flash on the bottom. So a lot of things come from just thinking through the 365 of what our players’ day looks like.
Moving on from the X18+, with you coming from adidas, how aware are you with the way that soccer is going on a cultural standpoint, or what it looks like when it comes to say fashion, music, or art? Is that something that adidas is very much up to date with?
Absolutely. I think that’s really what they look at when they’re putting everything together. So even beyond cleats, take for instance jerseys, we look at that and recognize that these aren’t just specific to playing on the pitch. We’re looking at the hem line, looking at shoulder drop lines, the technology, and those tech details, or even call outs for that country specifically, those are things that we feel lives on the pitch as well as off the pitch. So it’s recognizing that again, soccer is 365 for people who live, breathe, eat, and sleep the sport. And beyond that, when you look at what we’re offering, it’s not just cleats, it’s not just performance jerseys. We have seasonal specialty product that is bespoke to Argentina or Mexico, but it’s really for the street specifically. Maybe not for an avid consumer, but somebody who recognizes that they are a casual fan of this club and that they can wear that shirt, they can wear the pants or the woven shorts, creating a whole offering across every federation, across every club that allows you to rep no matter the circumstances – after, before, or during a game. We’re looking at product holistically now through that lens of the entire year and day.
Last question: speaking of repping, with the World Cup underway, do you have a country that you’re rooting for?
For me specifically, I mean I would love to see Messi get one, right! But honestly, as a fan of the sport, I just want good games. I want to see just incredible moments, the ones that give you chills and that keep you wanting more, and I think when you put the best countries in the world together, you’re going to get those moments inevitably. So I’m just really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup vote declared a join hosting effort between the US, Mexico and Canada. This has provided a major opportunity for the North American soccer scene to cultivate not only future national team stars, but a bustling creative scene offering a special dimension to the World’s biggest game.
adidas has revealed a content piece aiming to inspire a young and creative generation to embrace the opportunity that has risen with North America getting the 2026 World Cup. The film was created in Los Angeles and highlights that adidas look to collaborate with local artists and storytellers.
But what does the mean for the game itself? Soccer is much more than just what occurs on the pitch, it’s a culture and a lifestyle that many live through on a daily basis. And this is what adidas is looking to capture during this film, showing that is a tool that can be used to enhance the lives of young talented creators who want to find a route into the game they love.
The new campaign focused on the North America World Cup is a brand extension of adidas’ Creativity is the Answer, which calls filmmakers, photographers, artists and more from major cities around the world to co-create and shape the brand narrative.
Giovanni Reyna told adidas, “being creative on the field helps the rest of the country want to play the game and want to enjoy the game.” A resonating statement from the young NYCFC player because adidas is calling to embrace the creativity and if you do, it inspires others to create themselves.
“I think creativity is a way to connect to other people, it allows people to connect to each other and how can we push each other to be creative, says local artist Geoff Gouveia and this seems to be what adidas’ are tapping in to, to show that a wave of creativity in various sectors can develop the effort on the pitch for the national sides.
Soccer is synonymous with art. It’s a beautiful form of self-expression and creativity allowing you to provide an image that represents yourself, a brand or a cause. And this needs to be capitalised on more from global brands. There is a major opportunity for young creators to provide something special for the World Cup, showcasing what North America has to offer creatively and using this flow can really draw on the emotions of the nations’ soccer teams to really enhance belief and performance.
This creative movement that adidas’ is looking to kick-start is something that can inspire a younger generation of soccer players themselves. Not only are they calling for artists, filmmakers and other creative professions, but for the player themselves to get creative. Play with freedom. Play with belief. Play with creativity. And using a creative revolution like they are, a forceful effort can be employed to inspire the players and improve the talent generated.
Bridging the gap between soccer, art, and food, sportswear giant PUMA teams up with German football club Borussia Dortmund – or BVB for short – and Foodbeast to create a unique food truck that serves reimagined German street food with a Los Angeles twist. Dubbed the BVB Food Truck, the collaboration will be running the streets of LA for a limited time only that’s well worth seeking out.
Why, you ask? Because you’ll be able to order insanely scrumptious sounding dishes like currywurst burritos, curry chicken grilled cheese sandwiches, schnitzel sandwich, and curry cheese fries to name a few. You’d be insane not to try everything at least five times. The truck itself comes courtesy of local LA food truck, The Berlin Truck, which has been completely redesigned on its facade by OG street artist DEFER.
Showcasing the BVB Food Truck at its wurst behavior is yours truly in conjunction with our good friends Foodbeast, a food and drinks website that you should also be following. We’ve put together a quick video that highlights the elements behind PUMA and BVB’s effort, giving you a visual taste of what you’ll be getting when you visit the truck at one of its many stops around the City of Angels. The BVB Food Truck will only be spinning its wheels for one week, so make sure you check out its location schedule below to ensure you hit each and every stop.
Time: 12am – 12pm
Place: Common Space LA
Address: 3411 W. El segundo Blvd., Hawthorne CA 90250
Place: S.S. Lane Victory
Address: 1945 Merchant Marine Ship, Berth 49, 3600 Miner Street, San Pedro
Place: 10 Mile Brewery Address:1136 E Willow st, Signal Hill, 90755
Place: Ocean & 31st
Address: 2929 31st St., Santa Monica, CA 90405
2:30 – 4pm
Place: Niky’s Sports
Address: 11807 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Place: Tri Centre Food Trucks
Address: 650 E Hospitality Ln, San Bernardino
Time: 5 – 10pm
Address: 3939 Figueroa St, Los Angeles CA 90037 (Parking Lot Across the Figueroa st Entrance Banc of California Stadium)
Place: Heritage Corporate Center
Address: 10350 Heritage Park Dr, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Place: Common Space LA
Address: 3411 W. El segundo Blvd., Hawthorne CA 90250
To commemorate adidas Football’s release of the international away kits in March, Kicks to the Pitch mixed foreign with familiar.
As the Los Angeles flower market is a staple to locals, fashionable kits are a statement in soccer. To honor the tradition of each, the jerseys were paired with flowers to highlight the unique colors and designs featured from each country. Arguably the best designs in the entire drop are featured below, including Argentina, Colombia, Japan, Germany, Mexico, Russia and Spain. The colors are vibrant and bold, fresh and unexpected from adidas, with eye-catching designs that complement the traditional three stripes from the brand. The subtle details and patterns on each jersey blossomed into something beautiful with each as unique and tasteful as the last. The integrity of the kits remains the same – the country’s crest on one side and adidas’ distinguished logo on the other. The jerseys will make their appearance at the World Cup this year, which kicks off June 14th in Russia.