With Mizuno now a contender on the US market, it is a prime time for us to get testing the boots currently available to buy. First up is a boot I have personally being bursting at the seams to get my hands on over the past few months – the Mizuno Morelia Neo. The Morelia range has been a consistent top performer and players who wear them always seem to share positive thoughts. Lowering the weight of the boot gives them a more modern edge yet there are challenges involved in effectively pulling it off.
Check out the current line-up of Mizuno boots at soccer.com.
I’ve tested the Morelia in the past, so I’m interested to see how the lighter Morelia Neo checks out. There has been a real buzz about Mizuno since they announced their arrival in the US, and I am eager to figure out if they offer value for their high price point. They come in a really slick box and Mizuno include a trendy drawstring bag with each pair.
Breaking In and Comfort
When I put the Neo’s on for the first time, they felt tight. Almost too tight. Yet when I ran in them for the first time, my concerns were immediately dispelled and they started to mold into a pretty perfect fit. It is important to note that you should reverse fit them when you wear them for the first time. To do this, fully loosen all the laces right down to the bottom eyelet and then tighten the boot around your foot. It will help them shape correctly around your midfoot and the end result is a boot with a fantastic, very desirable, glove-like fit!
Right through the upper, the materials used are very minimal and the boot is very thin for a K-leather. Thankfully, this doesn’t result in any comfort issues and Mizuno has done a great job of piecing things together in a comfortable way. It is sort of like the meticulous systematic you would expect from a Japanese car manufacturer, except in this case we are talking about soccer boots! Unless you are wearing the incorrect size, you shouldn’t encounter any problems with these boots.
The actual weight of the boot is listed at around 6.3oz for a size 9US, which is phenomenally lightweight for a boot that features K-leather. You can definitely tell that there is minimal material used through the forefoot just by getting some touches on the ball, but that is what this boot is all about. Keeping things classy while introducing a deft touch is tough to do, yet it is pulled off in this package. It is a boot that has the potential to sway some traditionalists who have eluded the speed category in the past!
If you play in wet conditions, the materials will soak in water, the weight will increase slightly and durability will be threatened if you don’t follow the correct drying techniques. In other words, this is a boot you need to take seriously in order to get the most out of them.
Realistically, it is the simplicity of this release that makes it a true winner. Mizuno hasn’t cut corners in terms of quality but they have kept the boot to a minimum in terms of materials and technology. The entire body of the shoe is made of quality materials, pieced together with little fuss; the upper is a K-leather, very soft with some pleasant stitching; the tongue is a single piece of material that has no padding; the heel is lined with a light suede grip material; the soleplate flexes with ease and doesn’t feature any advanced spine of stud configuration. It all seems basic and mundane, but it comes together in the most elegant way, a mix of tradition styling with a modern fit and weight, to produce one of the best boots we currently have on the market. Many companies have tried similar designs and failed. Where Mizuno get it right is the details and how they craft a boot designed to suit the player and not their own piggy bank.
The inner lining of the boot should definitely be addressed. Let me rephrase that, the lack of inner padding along the lining should be addressed. For many, this might cause some hesitation to test the boot, and I can completely understand why. A lack of padding can often lead to blisters and discomfort, but if you are wearing the correct size and have a medium/wide fit, there shouldn’t be any problems. It is incredible how such a thin boot with a barefoot feel can fit so effectively in-game. The heel region in particular has very, very minimal padding yet they just work.
One of my favorite aspects of the boot is how the lacing system is constructed. Rather than being a straight seem down toward the toe, Mizuno employ a zig-zag design with each lace eyelet sitting on the inner curve of each side. This allows you to really pull the laces tight and brings the upper snug in around your foot.
When it comes to the soleplate and traction, these are the perfect FG boot for playing on AG surfaces. We are all accustomed to wearing FG boots on artifical grass and for those that want to double an indoor with outdoor boot, add these to the option column. In similar fashion to the effective Puma King 2013, the conical, low profile stud configuration offers enough foot movement without being too loose on the surface. What makes these even more effective is how flexible the soleplate is, without taking away from the rebound factor. The bend just below the big-toe socket very easily, but spring back into place when you release. They are very nicely balanced and provide a smooth, comfortable ride as a result.
Touch and Shooting
Realistically, I think most of you can work out exactly what I am going to write here because of the make-up of the boot. When you mix a thin, K-leather upper with and overall lightweight boot, there is only one end result; a clean, crisp touch on the ball with a decent upper for striking shots. The one thing that gives these an edge over synthetic boots is the fact Mizuno has created some padding compliments of the stitching design. You get slightly more protection than you would from a lightweight synthetic, but they are definitely not going to increase power when shooting or provide optimal protection across the forefoot. Personally, I really enjoyed shooting in these and I found them to be ideal when placing shots.
The K-leather has a slightly tacky texture to it and in turn this gives you a more controlled feel on the ball as you dribble and connect. It is the initial clean and crisp touch on the ball that makes these an ideal option for pacey players or those of you that like to get on the ball and take defenders on. You get the full feel of the ball and are not hindered by extra material between your foot and the ball.
How do they Fit?
Starting out they seemed slightly tight, but having tested them I wouldn’t have switched sizes if given the opportunity. True to size is the way to go length wise and they offer a nice spacious fit across the forefoot that should suit most medium/wide players. If you compare them to something like the new Nike Tiempo V, they are probably built on the same sizing construction except the Tiempo V has a lot more padding and that results in a boot that fits a lot tighter. Since there is less material used, the Morelia Neo is going to accommodate a wider selection of sizes.
And a final note, they do have the same closed in heel design we have seen across the Mizuno series. I love it as it allows the boot to hug your heel and sit comfortably without any unnecessary movement, but it doesn’t make for the perfect option if you have any pre-existing heel problems.
Mizuno to the US
As you are probably aware by this stage, Mizuno are finally part of the US market! We are proud to be able to take some credit for encouraging them to bring their soccer boots stateside, but that being said we are not in anyway affiliated or directly associated with their company/brand (as has been misstated across certain channels). They provide quality boots and improve the options we currently have available, and that to us is a big win/win for consumers and the market as a whole.
Compared to the MIJ Version
A lot of you are immediately going to question how these perform compared to the Made in Japan version. Personally, I can’t answer that yet as I haven’t kicked off reviewing the Morelia Neo MIJ. We do have a review available, here for those that want to check it out. If the MIJ version offers a higher quality, it is going to rank among the best boots ever released, I’m just not sure how it gets better than this release but I’ll have a full side by side comparison once we get them tested.
There isn’t a great deal to write in this section from a performance perspective. Mizuno has been a quality boot that fits great, feels comfortable and offers a clean touch on the ball. Price wise, they are on the higher end and that is likely to scare off some consumers. Plus, the boots are only available to purchase directly from Mizuno and not in stores, so you won’t have the opportunity to try them on before buying. As you can see, I’m getting a little desperate for content to add here!
To pick up a pair, find them listed at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Mizuno mesh quality materials with top class fit all in a lightweight package. K-leather upper is clean and provides great feel on the ball.
Category: A lightweight heritage release, a hybrid of sorts.
Would I Buy Them: I’ve been crying out for Mizuno to enter the US market because of the quality they offer, so yes I would most certainly recommend picking up a pair.
Player Position: This is the type of package that will appeal to a broad range of playing styles and there is no particular position that they won’t work for. As an attacking player, I loved them and I can see them being just a complimentary option for defensive players.