Race to the top
In recent years, the cleat world has shown us seen a number of brands race to create the lightest boot possible. However, some brands have decided to attempt to make the speed boot more comfortable and more usable for a wider range of players instead of just towing the line of lightness by all means. Under Armour has thrown its hat into the speed boot ring over the past few years and it seems like the brand is attempting seriously to turn some heads and as such the UA SpotLight 2.0 was reborn. First impressions don’t often come as intriguing as the SpotLight 2.0. Yes, I am talking about the zipper on top of the lacing system on a soccer cleat. It is hard not to notice the standout feature on the SpotLight, but as someone who never likes to judge a book by its cover, I was eager to get started testing the cleat out.
Starting off with some tech specs
The upper is a two part synthetic upper with synthetic leather making up the heel area and up to the lacing system. The rest of the upper is a soft green synthetic upper. On the inside of the lacing system, there is a Neoprene compressive sleeve that keeps your foot locked in and adds a little bit of extra cushioning between your foot and the ball. The insole is padded and comfortable, which I found nice considering on most speed boots, comfort is the first thing to be sacrificed. The soleplate is made of a Carbon composite that Carbon Fiber in the heel for stability. The soleplate is made up of a mix of conical and bladed studs to allow for a mix of a speed boot plates and a control style of plate, which normally features all conical studs.
On to how the boot performed
The Spotlight can really be boiled down to one word, different. The boot is constructed differently, with some daring designs and a soleplate that has gone back to the carbon look many brands have gone away from. The zipper cover for the lacing system is easily one of the strangest things I have seen put on a boot. The zipper is fully exposed except for on the top of the zipper where there is a cover. Now, there is always a chance that someone could hurt themselves from the zipper catching there skin but it would be more likely to hurt a finger than any part of a leg. The compression sleeve underneath of the lacing system seems to act as a protective layer against the zipper. While striking the ball, I personally did not have any issues with the zipper hurting or adding pressure while playing. That being said, it seems likely that if you hit the ball just right, it could hurt fairly badly but personally I did not have this issue.
The micro fiber is soft and I enjoyed the cleat in terms of the upper. I think that either part of the upper could have been great in the high usage area. On the ball, you can tell that the upper is super soft and close to your foot while on the ball. When comparing the SpotLight 2.0 to the original SpotLight upper, the upper has come a long way and is much nicer. The original upper is very stiff and took a while to break in. The soleplate is very responsive which you do find on many carbon fiber soleplates. There is an internal heel counter is solid and protective against any tackles. The traction you receive is nothing out of the ordinary from any other speed boot or soccer cleat in my opinion, and may have more grip than others. The weight comes in around 9.5 ounces, which is heavier than most speed boots and is not something that is going to win over any players from adidas or Nike.
Here is the brutally honest section of the review
The zipper! While I do like the fact that Under Armour did something completely different from other brands, it is tough to get on if you have wider feet. I have slightly wider than average feet and it is tough to pull up the zipper. That is one thing that concerns me long term with durability of the zipper. The construction has a lot going on around the lacing area, which causes it to feel a little bit thicker than normal. If UA had made a boot without a zipper, normal lacing system, and the same microfiber upper, this would be a vastly different review. The soleplate and comfort of the shoe save it for me in ways but I still cannot get over the fact that this is a $220 shoe with a zipper.
After my complete testing of the boot, I would say it is a shoe that should retail for about $150 and not $220. The zipper is gimmicky and could have issues down the road. That being said, I enjoyed most of my time in the SpotLight while playing. The issues starts when you see the price for the shoe and how it just seems like it could have been more. All that being said, I appreciate UA stepping out and doing something different from the other brands and really turning heads towards their product. This particular attempt may have not gone well, but it is certainly something I can appreciate rather than just another speed boot.
Overall, I would say this boot is about a 3/5. It isn’t a horrible cleat all in all, but it is not something that will take away sales from the Vapor, X, Superfly, etc. I truly hope UA brings out a stellar SpotLight 3 in the future with this kind of upper.