SPECIAL REPORT: SOCCER IN THE “A”

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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.

Special thanks to Wish ATL(Pat), Vera Zeigler, Mo Hairston Waka Flocka, Whoo Kid for taking the time to chat.

PART 1


 

PART 2


 

PART 3


CAN THESE OG BRANDS REEMERGE AFTER JORDAN?

So the hype around the PSG x Jordan Brand collab was more than real. What we fail to realize though, or at least what I did initially, was that this is not the first time a brand totally foreign to the world of soccer has come in to stake its own claim. While numerous brands have come and gone before the Jumpman, the overwhelming success of this PSG x Jordan Brand collab has proven that there is obviously more than enough room for other brands besides adidas and Nike. There is clearly and more importantly real opportunity for brands out there right now, especially those with a streetwear heritage, to reinsert themselves back into the spotlight.

What follows is a list of brands I consider prime for a comeback or that I’d simply love to see back in soccer.


FILA

I start off with what is perhaps the biggest longshot, and that is FILA. Here in the United States, FILA has not been hot since the Grant Hill sneaker line. The same can be said about its stint in soccer as its heyday came at about the same time in the late ’90s and early 2000’s. Though the brand is not totally out of soccer as it sponsored some lower league teams in recent years, you start to wonder what sort of splash FILA could make in this new context we now find ourselves in, as well as with a much higher profile club to back it.


REEBOK

Reebok, as we all know, is a Crossfit brand nowadays, but who could forget the fire kits they put out in the not so distant past. This away number worn by Javier Zanetti in the late ’90s is one of the best put out by the brand. I know I can’t be the only one who wouldn’t mind wearing something similar to this with a fresh pair of Reebok DMX’s.


STARTER

Starter is another brand with a streetwear past to make a foray into soccer. Only a few years ago, the brand kitted out Oxford United, a team from the lower tiers of English football. While its design for the club’s home kit is not something that immediately grabs my attention, Starter still has an unshakeable nostalgia tied to it. There is definitely much for the brand to capitalize on, which is why I’d love to see some soccer club partner with Starter on some sort of apparel line at the very least.


CHAMPION

Rounding out the list is Champion, the brand I consider to have the most potential of all. Unlike all of the brands profiled just now, Champion is the only brand to still have considerable cultural relevance in the present day. Most of us might remember Champion in its time outfitting Parma. As those kits are still very sought after, I can’t help but wonder why the brand has yet to stage a comeback in soccer.


I hold out hope that some, if not all, of these brands will make their triumphant return. The timing just seems right as soccer now has the type of consumer that appreciates the allure of a brand with both a sport and streetwear past. Make sure to let me know your own thoughts on this topic in the comments below.

ANOTHER NIKE CLASSIC WITH THE PREMIER II SALA

Unlike any other major sport, Soccer and by extension futsal, share a symbiotic relationship with street fashion. Shirt, shorts, shoes…simple really. It only makes sense then; that what we often see on the pitch and court is what we continue to rock off it. To focus on the latter, Nike has hit yet again with another indoor classic, the Premier II Sala collection.

Continuing a tradition of timelessly clean boots, Nike keeps it classy yet functionally forward with this latest release. Starting with color: the shoe comes in a clean “Desert Sand” and “Midnight Navy”, to which would virtually complement any fit. As for comfort, the shoes upper is rugged and sturdy, built for the countless courts it will be played on worldwide, and features lightweight mesh alongside supple suede accents. To bring it together, Nike has instilled its Lunarlon technology, a soft and durable foam core base that’s both lightweight and resilient.

The Nike Premier II Sala Collection arrives at an interesting time, as fashion is hearkening back to the many styles seen throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. Baggy pants, eccentric shades, flashy color palettes, and oversized tops are but a few of the trends currently dominating the street landscape to where we’ve seen other sportswear giants, such as adidas, dropping its own set of historical and modern kicks with the recent release of the Predator Accelerator TR Ultraboost and forward thinking Sobakov.

Like its German counterpart, Nike also pays its homage to its past by blending the right amount of history with just the right amount of modern technology, where the shoes just feel right and will feel right for a very long time.

Images from soccerbible.com

A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO THE DESIGN OF THE MAGISTA

I never wore the Magista as a cleat, but I did regularly wear the Footscape sneaker version. I probably can’t give you a good look into what it is like to wear the Magista from a performance point of view, but from an aesthetic and whatever Nike told us about technology view? I gotcha.

The Magista came about in 2014 and they revolutionized the game. Launched by Iniesta, the first-gen Magista featured the sock-like collar alongside a FlyKnit upper that we see on so many boots today. It wasn’t just the technology that I loved about the Magista; it was mainly the look of it. A beautiful design with so many colorways being released over the years since its inception.

A whole 26 colorways of the first-gen Magista were released and there wasn’t many I disliked. The whole look was intriguing, with the upper and base colors supporting an underlying color in a net-like design. This offered a delightful look, with the chance to combine some wonderful additional colors. We’ve seen turquoise combined with orange, which surprisingly worked and became one of my favorite releases of the silhouette. The Magista seemed to be a representation of the expression of creativity, both on and off the pitch. This is why all the magicians of the game wore it, from Andres Iniesta to Kevin De Bruyne, to Mario Götze (who scored the 2014 World Cup-winning goal in a pair of these).

Where it became cooler, was the Magista Obra II. An interesting development from Nike in terms of tech and aesthetic. The first release of the second-gen was a delightful but weird release. The colorway was a direct replication from a heat map which highlighted where a player would make contact with the ball the most. Not only did the colorway feature this design, the boot’s shape, and texture were also designed with what the player’s foot would be like if its sole purpose was to be playing soccer. As a boot aficionado, a release like this had me hooked on the Magista Obra II, and to be honest, I loved many of the Obra II colorways.

Now, all that being said, with the recent release of the Phantom by Nike, the Magista dies. A sad time indeed, as the now legendary-in-my-books Magista was built for intelligence and creativity – by intelligence and creativity. It was – and still is – an intriguing boot, especially the second-gen. it’s a wonderful addition to soccer’s footwear market, and despite never wearing it during a game, I loved it. Happy retirement.

THE KTTP WORLD CUP WEEK 1 RETROSPECTIVE

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 ADIDAS SOBAKOV CAN BE A SOCCER CLASSIC OF ITS OWN

They say some things are just too good to be true. I was certainly in complete disbelief when I first set eyes on adidas’ new soccer-inspired shoe: the adidas Sobakov. The shoe is everything of my wildest shoe dreams except I am not dreaming. These kicks are the real deal and here’s why I think they’re the best soccer lifestyle shoes adidas has come out with as of yet.

The stripes are obviously what draw you in. Their inspiration stems from no other source than one of soccer’s most classic cleats: the adidas Predator Precision. As you’ll recall, adidas recently reissued this cleat and offered a lifestyle option that came with a Boost sole. While many of you, including myself, would not mind having the Predator UltraBoost in our collection, we would not be wrong in saying that we did not miss out on much as rather than a consolation, the new Sobakov is the real prize.

Between the Predator UltraBoost and the Sobakov, one has to admit the UltraBoost will always look like a soccer shoe. The Sobakov, on the other hand, is more subtle in its inspiration and therefore has the potential to not only be more appealing to more people but to also be more versatile in one’s choice of outfits.

The Sobakov has what you call an unassuming elegance that is only further augmented by its shape. The contours, after all, are what I found problematic in adidas’ other soccer lifestyle options such as the latest Predator Tango 18+. That shoe just looked too modern and I couldn’t see anything in it that said Predator to me, even though it was called a Predator. The Sobakov is the complete opposite as I am able to see much more than just a Predator. Despite the references to the adidas Kamanda, the shoe’s shape, especially with that sole, reminds me much more of a Nike Roshe or a Yeezy. Both of these shoes have obviously been overwhelmingly popular amongst consumers and may just provide the wave that the Sobakov can continue to ride.

This connection I draw makes it more apparent to me why the shoe does not look to be packaged as an adidas soccer release. Instead, the shoe looks like it will be an adidas Originals offering even though the soccer inspiration is in much more than just the stripe detailing. adidas has truly exceeded my expectations as rather than merely appropriating the distinct features of a Predator, which I once said was all that was necessary, the brand has now also redefined other features from yet another classic silhouette. Taking inspiration now from the Samba Classic, the Sobakov’s upper makes the Samba’s beloved textured tongue a prime rather than secondary feature. With this, adidas has given us everything we want more of in a shoe that is familiar, but new yet with all the makings of becoming a classic of its own.

There is no info on the release of these as of yet, but make sure to stay tuned to the KTTP IG for all the details.

Images via Sneake Studio.

KTTP RADIO EP. 56 | REDRIBBONRECON, PORT X LA GALAXY, WC18

With World Cup action only a few days away, Drew connects with sneaker artisan, fashion and soccer junkie Red Ribbon Recon. The guys debate their favorite kit releases for the cup this year, who is going to take it all, and their opinion on who is truly the “group of death”. They discuss how they feel about some recent product drops spanning all aspects of the game, including some serious critiques, and their thoughts on what it takes to release a culturally sound product in today’s soccer market.

Drew also talks to his old cohost Anthony about the Port Long Beach and LA Galaxy collaboration. The teaser video was released online for the Capsule Collection and Anthony talks about the process behind it and the upcoming block party to celebrate its release. Drew praises the collaboration for it’s beautiful simplicity and homage to the roots of original soccer gear.

Laslty, Drew recaps Open Cup action and the current status of the MLS across the country including who is killing it and who is getting killed.

Check it out below:

FA CUP & #CUPCOLLECTIVE LIMITED BESPOKE NIKE AF 1S

To celebrate today’s Finals, Emirates FA Cup and UK-based #CupCollective – consisting of grime radio presenter Rebecca Judd and creative/presenter Poet – have officially released their own Nike effort that we’re personally dying to get our hands on. Part of the FA ICON SERIES, a collection of unique, limited edition products re-imagined by the select group of creatives, the two aforementioned partners have each created a limited run of bespoke Nike Air Force 1s that bring together our shared love of sneakers, art, and the beautiful game.

Pulling inspiration from the FA Cup itself, Judd and Poet imbued their own interpretation into the designs, resulting in something truly unique. Speaking on the creative process, Poet states: “When thinking about my design for the Nike Air Force 1s, I wanted them to look as close to the trainer form of the Emirates FA Cup as possible, from the silver swoosh and grass printed soles to mimic stepping onto the pitch, to the past champions printed on the side panel to mirror those engraved on the Cup.”

Judd’s pair stems more from the Cup’s iconic trophy, as well as her own family’s West Ham roots. “I am a huge Nike Air Force 1 fan, so to be able to design my own Emirates FA Cup inspired pair has been awesome. I went with the silver swoosh to mirror the silver of the iconic trophy, with the claret and blue to represent my family’s West Ham roots – I am really happy with the result and can’t wait to style them out at the Emirates FA Cup Final.”

Have a closer look at Rebecca Judd and Poet’s Bespoke Emirates FA Cup Nike Air Force 1s’ here, as well as the full FA CUP ICON SERIES collection above.

THE SHOE SURGEON TALKS ADIDAS SOCCER COLLAB

Always one to take existing sneaker silhouettes to new heights through artistic customization, Dominic Chambrone AKA The Shoe Surgeon adds to his coveted roster of sneakers with his latest Electricity Copa Rose 2.0 for adidas Football. The shoe also plays a part in a collection of soccer-meets-basketball sneakers that the skilled artist made exclusively for The Association, an ongoing soccer league held by yours truly that brings together teams assembled by brands and companies within our culture, including Beats by Dre, Complex, Dash Radio, FourTwoFour on Fairfax, Jason Markk, Niky’s Sport, Red Bull, and SpaceX.

The Electricity Copa Rose 2.0 is a clear stand out (well… they kind of all are), and is comprised of an adidas Copa soccer cleat in “Electricity” as the upper fixed on to the sole taken from the adidas Derek Rose 4 basketball shoe. What’s even better is that this work of art – along with the other pairs from the aforementioned collection – are all wearable, and will be made available this Saturday May 12 exclusively on The Shoe Surgeon’s online website. Check out The Shoe Surgeon x adidas Football Electricity Copa Rose 2.0 throughout, then read our interview with the man on the whole soccer-meets-basketball collection below. Head here to see the other pairs.


In your own words, how would you describe your approach to the collection of custom sneakers you made for The Association?
My approach to the collection was really to mash up soccer and basketball, and really do it in a way where you can actually play in them as well.

What was the most challenging pair to make?
I would say that the most challenging shoe out of this collection was the adidas COPA silhouette on the Crazy BYW sole.

And if you had to pick your personal favorite pair?
My personal favorite from this collection would definitely have to be the Samba on the Dame 4 sole. I just think it’s such a classic upper on top of a futuristic basketball sole.

After finishing the whole collection, was there a pair that you expected the audience to view as the craziest?
Probably the aforementioned Crazy BYW sole on the COPA. That one’s pretty loud.