The Full 90

Boot Camp with Matt Besler

Gather a group of soccer players from any level, age or gender and they can all find one common topic to discuss/debate: What cleats do you wear?

After all, shoes -- or boots -- are the most important piece of technology a soccer player can bring to the field. Leather or synthetic? Nike or Adidas? Or Puma? Or Diadora? Black and white or purple and "electricity"?

Over the past few weeks, I grabbed a couple of Sporting Kansas City players -- Davy Arnaud, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington and Roger Espinoza -- to discuss this very topic.

Matt Besler

The Overland Park defender is having a break-out year in Major League Soccer and is one of the main reasons for KC's turnaround after a disastrous road trip.

The Full 90: You are one of the few guys on the team who wears Puma. How long have you been with them?

I wasn’t on a contract during my rookie year. After that [season], I signed with Puma for a three-year contract. They sent me an email in the off-season. Once I got signed up with them, me and Jack [Jewsbury -- also Puma] worked through the same rep.

The Full 90: Which shoe are you wearing this year?

I’m wearing the V1-11s. [They are] kind of like the old Puma Cellerator. The new one, it’s probably their lightest shoe. That’s in style -- how light you can get your shoe. These are Kangaroo leather.

I won’t really wear a synthetic shoe. It’s too much. Maybe for a game. But when you’re out here every day, you’ve gotta wear leather. You don’t want your foot moving around.

I like them tight.

The Full 90: Do you wear a size smaller than a regular shoe?

Usually. When I first put on a brand new shoe, it feels too small. But it’s leather; it’ll stretch. It will take me 5-10 times [wearing them out in practice] to get comfortable enough to wear in a game. I really like a tight feel. I go for comfort over looks and light weight. I mean, I like to have really light weight shoes, but not at the expense of comfort.

The Full 90: So you like to break-in shoes, do you have a pattern?

I have about three shoes that are game ready in case some blow out. Once I throw a pair out, I break in a new pair so I have three ready.

The Full 90: How many do you go through in a year?

For me, probably 6.

The Full 90: Do you remember your first pair?

I probably had some Adidas Copas or the one below the Copas. They weren’t the Kangaroo leather... they were the Kaisers. Those were the first one.

The ones I actually fell in love with were the [Nike] Total 90s. I bought a few pairs of those cause I really liked them. I wore those through my club years growing up.

Wear it like a Pro

Besler is one of three Sporting KC players who have a Puma contract. The others are Stephane Auvray and Shavar Thomas.

He often wears the new

Puma V1-11s

, but has also tossed in a

red and white pair of V1-10s at times this year


Both pairs retail for about $200. If I were spending that kind of moolah, I'd opt for


. Better color scheme. More flair.