This past weekend, Upper90 hosted the USA Finals of the Red Bull Street Style tournament. The stakes were high. Whoever was skilled enough to win would go on to represent the USA at the World Finals in Poland. Contestants came to the Queens location of Upper90 in Astoria from all over the country, from California to just a few blocks away. Talk about competition.
Aside from the competition, we had a chance to check out the entirety of the location, equipped with an indoor pitch, two rooftop pitches, the store itself, and a cafe. Before the tournament began, there was a viewing party set up for the Russia vs. Croatia World Cup quarterfinal, while contestants were warming up for what might be the biggest competition of their lives.
There were fan experiences set up as well, including a custom T-shirt station and a Messi virtual experience station by adidas. One of the co-owners, Zach, welcomed us and showed us around while we chatted about his experiences as a former commodities trader and what led him to create Upper90. “The city had nothing like it before this,” he said, as we watched the 5-a-side games on the rooftop pitches. Creds to Zach and his colleagues for taking a risk in one of the world’s most unforgiving cities. The risk paid off as they now have multiple locations and enjoy success while providing for local communities.
The Red Bull Street Style tournament hosted by UPPER90 was a culmination of their mission: encouraging expression, while bringing together communities. We wish Upper90 continued success in the future, of which we have no doubt as long as they keep up what they’re doing. Be sure to visit any of their locations if you’re ever in New York City.
You can visit the Queens location of Upper90 in Astoria at 34-23 38th St, Long Island City, NY 11101.
Before I start my World Cup week 1 retrospective, I want to thank US Soccer, adidas Football, Fan Duel, and World Soccer Shop for giving KTTP the opportunity to tell its unique perspective on this year’s World Cup in Moscow. The effort of our family at US Soccer is what really kicked this entire opportunity off, and I would be foolish to not give credit to a group of people who took the risk of allowing such a hyper-focused outlet to represent the USA out here in Russia.
Arriving in the country, it was a bit surreal. From media propaganda to the political agendas surrounding the US and Russia relations, my thoughts on the trip to Russia was always one of skepticism. If it wasn’t for soccer, my want to go to Russian was a 0 from a 1-to-100 scale. Jumping on the flight outta LAX, the fact I was heading back to my third World Cup hadn’t hit me yet. Again, the anxiety of Russia was more on my mind than soccer. How would I get around? Was the apartment going to be as pictured? I got my visa, but would it be a struggle to get into the country itself? So many things had run through my head that soccer was the last thing on my mind.
That being said, flying 15 hours with two layovers was possibly the only thing negative I have to say about the trip up to this point. Upon landing in Moscow, the fact that I was here for arguably the biggest sporting event in the world finally hit me. World Cup 2018 had finally arrived. After almost 4 years of KTTP, the World Cup was not just about going to see matches, it was about sharing this beautiful game to the people who will be the future of the sport – through the eyes of culture. Where the casual fan meets the hardcore. A place where Sneakerheads, The Hip Hop community, Artist, and Designers can join in the conversation of the world’s game.
The first week of the World Cup has been no less than amazing off- and for sure on-pitch. Starting out with the Portugal versus Spain match in Sochi, Rich and I had the opportunity to view the game from two very different perspectives. I’m not going to bore you with the details as I am pretty sure you witnessed the greatness that is CR7, but to feel the power and the passion of the fans at that match was on a whole new level. The rivalry that is Portugal versus Spain never seems to disappoint, and on the night of June 15th 2018, it felt like two heavyweight boxers trading haymakers, each one landing at a precise moment but never falling. Diego Costa was a killer that night, along with Nacho and his Golaso, but leave it to Ronaldo to shine, and that he did.
After the trip to Sochi, we worked our way back to HQ in Moscow and prepared for a few days of back-to-back matches. Starting with the Germany versus Mexico match on June 16th. Before I go on, I must say this was the loudest I have ever heard a stadium before. The noise of the crowd was literally deafening. The Mexico fans completely outmatched Germany’s, and the game results seemed to mirror that same situation. Watching Mexico score the lone goal on arguably the best team in the world was a sight to be seen. I don’t know what team besides Mexico that has a fan base willing to pay $15 to $20 USD for a beer and then within seconds throw it up in the air for the love of the country. It’s absolutely mad!!! So when the ball crossed the goal line, the German fans in Moscow where introduced to the special tradition. It showered beer for a good 30 seconds in the area I was sitting in, and the power of the Mexico fanbase never seemed to die. After being a witness to CR7 and his late-game masterpiece, and following that with a massive win by Mexico, I couldn’t help but look forward to what was coming.
On Monday the 18th we had a day off – sorta – where I took advantage of the Nike Football space located in Gorky Park. The new Nike space opened up a day before I arrived with a large crowd and special guest, Ronaldo Lima. The space was a well-designed sports facility with a dedicated half-basketball court, a small sided caged soccer space, and an indoor activation center. Nike spared no expense during the World Cup and created a design studio inside dubbed the NIKE BOX MSK. The studio was on another level. From jerseys, numbers, patches and more, the workshop is set up for pure creativity. Custom cut and sew stations facilitate almost anything you can create made out of a Nike kit top. Working with our Nike help, I secured a spot to produce a special 1-of-1 KTTP kit top. Given the time frame of 2 hours, plenty can be accomplished, and if you are in Moscow and have the time, I highly recommend this experience.
Leading into Tuesday the 19th, I was anticipating getting to check out Spartak stadium, where Poland would face of with Senegal. I had made my way to the stadium earlier in the week to try and get a media ticket to the Argentina versus Iceland match, and was able to get into the tunnel to witness Messi have his PK saved. What a disappointment for Messi, but that’s another topic for another day. Not knowing what I know now, and since I didn’t get to check out the full stadium beforehand, I was more excited to get check out the architectural feat over watching the match, but as you all know, the match turned out to be just as special as the first couple that I had highlighted. As we all are fans of the sport, underdogs always seem to capture the world’s attention. Senegal, with names that most casual fans are not familiar with, faced off against Poland featuring captain and world-class striker Robert Lewandowski. Packed to the max, Spartak stadium was solid in red. Poland came out to represent and they made it known. Not quite at the level of what Mexico had going, Poland still had the stadium super live for the full 90 mins. The Senegal support was few and far between, but I did notice the fans from Senegal were turned up in the little masses that came to support. The match was epic and at the final whistle, the stadium was filled with a special feeling that this World Cup had something amazing happening. This match marked the first African nation win at this year’s World Cup, and as Senegal looks to continue forward, I would suggest keeping an eye on them. Cinderella runs are always amazing to witness.
All this leads me to Wednesday the 20th, attending the Portugal versus Morocco match at Luzhniki Stadium. Portugal is my team this World Cup. If the US had made it then things would be different, but for my entire life, Portugal has been a very close second to the US. Getting to watch them play twice in a 7-day time span was something else for me personally. My father’s side of the family comes from the Azores off the mainland of Portugal, and as much as I want to claim my roots, I just don’t know much about them. Being able to follow a team from a country where my ancestors come from allows me to feel a bit closer to my heritage. It also helps that Cristiano is on a record-breaking pace this World Cup. To that note, CR7 did not disappoint. Putting his 4th goal in with a crazy diving header, the stadium erupted. Packed with what was announced at 78,000 people in attendance, it felt as though the Morocco support outnumbered the Portuguese. Donning the same national colors for both teams, it was hard to tell which support group represented who until a crazy foul had happened or a missed foul occurred. The game, in all honesty, was very ugly and boring, to say the least. After the wild header, Portugal played very uninspiredly, and all they looked to do was pass to Cristiano – no creative play whatsoever. Move to the other side of the ball and you have a team with no striker that had countless opportunities but just couldn’t find that finishing touch. This all played out into an ugly match, but Portugal walked away with 3 points so I was happy.
Capping off a crazy ass week was the opportunity to work with World Soccer Shop for the duration of the World Cup. As “Content Creators,” KTTP has been able to gain field access and stadium access unlike most. I have been able to access areas and see things that a normal fan will never be able to see. It brings out a different feeling being able to be on the inside of the game at the pinnacle of the sporting world’s biggest global event. Standing in the mixed media zone after the Portugal versus Spain match, I got to watch De Gea a foot away from me, talk about how he made massive mistakes. Pique was within 3 feet of me explaining his thoughts on the draw, Ronaldo briskly walked past my space with a little nod. As much as I can try to explain this in words, nothing can compare to my reality this last week. If anything that I have said sparks your interest, make sure to stay tuned to the website as we will be updating a daily journal for the second half of our trip, follow our IG @kickstothepitch as well, and shoot over to IG handle @wrldsoccershop to get a behind-the-scenes look, as well as our journey through the 2018 World Cup Russia.
The F50. Born in 2004 and paved the way for a huge amount of success for adidas, and the players wearing the silo. A boot which has seen different generations come through until it was ditched in 2015 (alongside the Predator, 2015 wasn’t a nice year for me).
adidas launched several generations of the Tunit F50, which was the first generation of speed boots from the Three Stripes. This was a major change in adidas’ boot range and it was made to compete with Nike’s Mercurial range. A boot that had revolutionary technology on it, alongside interchangeable studs which major competitors had not utilized before. This boot was a major play for adidas.
You see the laceless boots being released all the time from major companies now but many aren’t a fan. Something that was very special about the F50 was it had laces, yes, but had a feature where the laces were completely hidden providing a larger striking surface and enhancing control. This was a major trend of the time.
But it wasn’t until the F50 Adizero that I fell in love with the silo. The main reason was, that as a young kid/teenager I adored Lionel Messi (and still do) and the little Argentine wore F50s. I bought into the marketing process behind the F50 and fell for it. I was hooked on the Adizero and hooked on Lionel Messi. From then on, I only wore F50s. The lightest boot on the market, hence the name. The things Messi did in these boots, whether it be the Chameleon colorway, the solar red/yellow colorway or his first signature red/white boots, I loved it and wanted to be like him. And the closest I could get was the boots.
Each season I got a new pair, ready for a fresh start from the last campaign, and it was the F50 Adizero, and more specifically the Adizero MiCoach, that I wanted. Spending all my (or my parent’s) money on the freshest boots on the market was my favorite thing to do. Then, I would pull them on and channel my inner-Messi – albeit it didn’t really improve my talent.
The aesthetic of the boot was beautiful. A delightful design with the SPEEDFRAME, the web design across the upper and the three stripes down the side. Not only this but the colorways adidas released over the course of the Adizero life just increased the amount of love in my heart for the boot.
Following the success of the first generation of MiCoach F50s, the second design came out. And this design was also superb. The web-like design on the upper had gone and it was a one colored upper rather than having two. The stripes had been moved closer to the toes and the heel counter featured a cool sash design. The SPEEDFRAME was still intact. The first colorway was the excellent yellow colorway, debuted by Messi. And from this release, more and more excellent releases followed. There was purple, all black, pink/blue and more.
This was when Messi got a signature boot with the red/white design. An all-time favorite boot release of mine. A wonderful split design, with one half featuring red and the other white. One I adored from first sight.
There is still a chance to cling on to the greatness of these boots. If you’re like me and desperately want a return, adidas have teased us with a Chameleon GLITCH colorway, just like the classic F50s.
There was something about these boots that I loved. The design was incredible. They were revolutionary in terms of tech and weight. They had the greatest player on the planet driving them. What more could you want? Keep your Mercurials. Keep your Preds. Keep your Copa Mundials. I’m taking a pair of these all day, every day. I miss you, old friend. Maybe we will see each other again sometime.