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Mizuno Morelia II
Country of origin
Made in: Japan
Worn with: Two pairs of socks; one standard calf length athletic sock and one soccer sock that has a thinner footbed.
Length: This boot is listed as a 10.5 US or a 28.5 CM if ordering from Japan. I found it to fit my foot well in terms of length; I wear my shoes with my toes right to the end of the boot with my double socking method and these accommodated quite nicely. There were no gaps, or lose spots and there were no crunching tight spots where my toes felt jammed; the latter is often a problem when going for the most snug fit possible. The shoe has a slightly raised and very rounded toe box which allows for natural flex of the toes when moving your foot, all while still felling like you are taking up all the length of the shoe. Generally speaking, the length is perfect for those that are looking to get a locked in feel while still having the flexibility of being barefoot when it comes to toe movement.
Width: The boot is made in Japan, so they tend to fit a bit wider in the forefoot than other classically styled boots, like the adidas Copa Mundial. With that said, they are not overly wide to the point that someone with normal feet would have an issue with fit. The width for me was perfect, and when coupled with the lacing system (more below) you can generate a near perfect fit for almost any foot type. Through the mid-foot the boot is normal and follows the contours of the foot closely without causing discomfort from being too tight.
Heel: The heel is narrow enough to lock you into place without feeling pinched, and it comes up high on the Achilles tendon for a secure fit. The heel counter will accommodate those with normal to wider heel, and it posed no rubbing or rough spots that would give you blister trouble.
Overall: The fit of the boot is exceptional; you are locked in and mobile at the same time, which is both rare and rewarding. Mizuno designed this boot for Brasilian players that wanted something that mimicked playing barefoot and it is one of the closest experiences to playing barefoot that you will find in a boot.
Material: The boot has a kangaroo leather that is among the highest grade of hide on the market. This leather is soft to the touch, and it molds to your foot without losing shape or becoming overstretched.
Lacing: The Morelia has a variable width, central lacing system that is designed to offer some flexibility in the fit depending on how tight you pull the laces. This system allows for a more natural fit and less pressure across the top of the foot versus a more traditional lacing system. I found that it contributes to a more comfortable experience overall and reduces foot cramping when the shoe is tied tightly. See the accompanying photo for a visual reference point.
Tongue: Mizuno produces the retail version of the boot with the “old school” style large extened foldover tongue flap. The value of the tongue flap is open to interpretation depending on what you are used to using, and possibly how “old school” you are. Most modern boots have done away with the extended tongue of any kind (think adidas Predator or Nike Legend) and the large foldover specifically. When I was a young player the large foldover was common on the Puma King, the Mizuno Professional Model (sold in the USA), most Valsports, and the Nike Tiempo Premier. It was just part and parcel of looking like a soccer boot but, times has changed. Now even “classic” style shoes such as the Nike Legend, and Puma King SL have gotten rid of the large tongue for the purpose of shaving off a tad bit of weight and preventing any obstruction of touch. In the case of the Morelia I didn’t find the tongue obtrusive when worn normally over the knot of the laces. It didn’t prevent me from getting the touches I wanted and it even shielded me once or twice from an opponents studs. I also wore the tongue tucked under the laces a few times, and I was equally pleased with this option. It did create an even more snug fit in the upper when I laced over it, but there were no negatives to using this style when lacing up. The tongue also has nice and thin layer of foam padding that acts a slight cushion to the top of your foot when you taking a knock from an opponent’s stud or when you kill a ball with the top of your foot.
Heel Counter: The Morelia has a standard internal heel counter, and while it isn’t fancy it holds the heel well and it is rock solid. You will be locked into place and protected at the same time. You feel good about shaping your shots or exploding into a sprint in a boot that holds your heel and the Morelia does just that.
Extra features: The upper has no extra features, so there are no “zones”, “elements”, “pass pads”, or “panels”. Just nice and smooth kangaroo leather all around.
Overall: The upper on this boot not only checks all the boxes for what you need, the quality of the material just oozes class. You can’t really do much better than these when it comes to the upper, and there are no gimmicks that “add” skill features to your game. If you can’t get it done in the Morelia, you most likely just can’t get it done.
Material: The insole is a thin Mizuno model made for the Morelia line; it has no extra padding and a fabric based footbed.
Overall: This is where I usually hear the only complaint about the Morelia; many find the insole less than supportive or too flimsy. Being of the barefoot runner mindset (minimal to no cushion for better foot function) I found no issue with the insole. Part of that is helped by the great outsole, and general comfort level of the boot, but I found this insole more than adequate. One thing that is nice about it is that the insole has a deep heel cup, so it wraps around your foot and doesn’t slide in the shoe. It is worth noting that Mizuno has slightly updated the Morelia and they have “improved” the insole, so if you get a pair direct from Japan and you are concerned about the insole ask for clarity on which model you are paying for.
Studs: 13 PU studs, all one piece in terms of connection to the outsole plate.
Flexibility: This is an extremely flexible outsole, one of the most flexible in all directions that I have ever encountered. Some might find this off-putting if they are more familiar with other rigid offerings but, after a few uses you will not want to go back to anything stuff and clunky. The idea behind the flexibility with this outsole is for the foot to move as it would if it were bare. You should be able to have a shoe flex with your foot, and bend as you force movement through flexing your toes when striking the ball, gripping the insole when planting, and the various other functions the foot performs when playing (article coming soon detailing why this is important). This is that boot, and the fact that the outsole has been virtually unchanged for 25+ years, while having a massive take up in the game proves that it does the job and then some. I would take this outsole over anything that is carbon fiber 10 times out of 10.
Extra features: There are no “extra” items on the outsole promising you improved performance but, there are some that provide extra durability to the boot. The outsole is riveted under the toe, and around the heel to prevent the all too common outsole separation that plagues most boots these day, especially when used on turf. See the photo.
Quality of materials: This is where the boot excels, the materials are all top notch, from the upper, to the outsole, there is nothing but the best material used and it is used to provide comfort and function from the minute you put the shoe on until you take it off. As I said before the k-leather is among the best hide you will see on a boot, and the rest of the boot follows this trend. There are no corners cut with this boot.
Quality of construction: Again, nothing but the best and most exacting measures are used here. The boot is perfectly designed to fit well and perform at the highest level for a long, long time. There are no gaps where the glue meets the upper, there are no hanging or loose stitches; everything lines up, so to speak and you reap the rewards. The Japanese market demands a higher level of quality from their boots, and they also don’t needless redesign what works, which is the reason this shoe has enjoyed an endless the life span and it has had such a massive take up (the Puma Para Mexico also enjoys this treatment in Japan). Things like riveting the outsole and using higher quality stitching is becoming a thing of the past, especially as we buy more and more mass-produced boots with limited quality control measures. This boot flies in the face of the idea that boots
Overall: This boot is built to last and built with the best materials on the market. Over the lifespan of the boot the cosmetic changes have been minimal and they never outdate the boot visually, the functional changes have also been minimal but, they have always addressed functional concerns with the boot design. The saying “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” applies here, and quite frankly the boot is so well crafted there isn’t really much that can be “improved” on this shoe.
Touch: The material on the shoe combines with an exceptional fit that allows full access to the ball when making contact. You can feel every touch and tap on the ball as you dribble or kill the ball on a pass. If you have a great touch already you will find this shoe to be one to showcase your smooth skills because it doesn’t obstruct you in anyway.
Ball striking: Again, an area where the fit and materials allow for a great experience. The upper is soft but, there is enough cushion to take the sting out of powerful drives, and whipped freekicks or crosses. At the same time, the delicate feel of the boot invites crafty chips and lobs. You can really feel the correct contact with the ball in these when you put your foot through. This shoe doesn’t promise more powerful shots or added swerve but, the flexibility of the outsole allows you to really shape your foot correctly when striking a ball; that alone should help add some spin or sting to your strikes.
Traction: Basic and functional on FieldTurf and natural grass; there is natural feeling of being locked into ground and releasing when you move in all directions. The conical studs allow natural rotation when turning and you don’t have to worry about the studs gripping too hard and causing the ACL to make the dreaded “pop” sound.
Comfort: Outstanding is the only way to describe it. The entire boot envelops your foot and makes you feel like you are wearing a slipper, there are no hot spots, stud pressure, or stitching that feels misplaced and irritating. The entire shoe is built from the studs to the tongue (bottom to top) to be an outstanding performer for the elite professional level player and it shows in every area, especially the comfort aspect. There should be no issues taking these boots on for an intense 90 minute match or a three hour training session. I don’t think boots make you play better but, if you forget you are wearing boots you can focus on the game and these deliver in spades.
Weight: 10.7oz for a size 10.5 US, which is a fantastically balanced ratio. Before anyone thinks this is heavy, you need to realize that when a shoe is listed as weighing something absurdly light they are weighing a size 9 shoe (in most cases) which is the sample size. The larger you go the more weight you have and 10.7oz is a light shoe and despite what current marketing will tell you the extra 3oz on this shoe will not impact your speed one bit. Worry more about comfort when it comes to speed, not weight.
Dr. Boots Diagnosis
Easily one of the best boots ever made, period.
As I said before the player take up on this shoe is mind boggling, top pros that have used or use this shoe include Hulk, Rivaldo, Ronaldo (Brasil), Motta, Zanetti, Redknapp, Mutu, Shevchenko, Davids, Santa Cruz, Roberto Carlos, Dwight Yorke, Zola, Redondo, Aimar and countless players in Japan, Italy, and South America. That list is a mix of players endorsing the brand and those that wore the boot out of choice. While I don’t often put a lot of stock in who wears what shoe, it speaks volumes that so many top players would opt to wear a boot from a brand that spend very little on endorsements. Ronaldo for one was a player that opted to wear this shoe before Nike put him on their books and then locked him into a lifetime deal. Rivaldo snubbed Nike various times to stay with Mizuno and when he finally sold out to Puma he went right back to Mizuno by choice when the Puma deal ended. One player currently endorsing Puma is Pablo Aimar but he wore the Morelia befor the Puma deal and has decided to stitch a Puma formstripe on his Morelia to make them look like Kings from a distance.
When buying be careful not to order the model sold in mainland Europe if you want the best of the best, the ones listed on Mizuno’s EU website are the Chinese made step down from the Japan made model that has been reviewed. I have not tested the Chinese made model but, I know others that have and they have been less than impressed when comparing it to the Japan made model.
I will be updating the reviews this week and next with back-cataloged (with some updates for time passed) material that was lost when the server went down (thankfully I backed them up on my own hard drive) and NEW CONTENT! There will be some adjustments to the new/existing template as well, as I play around with more colors and logos, but this will be the general look of the new site for a while. I have spent a lot of time studying successful blogs in this industry and others to keep my perspective fresh, and generate ideas for how to best serve my readers. I have some exciting stuff in store for the future that I hope will raise the level of game across the board when it comes to boot reviews and boot blogging.
I am going to kick things off with a classic the ONLY review of the Mizuno Morelia FG Made in Japan on an English-speaking website.
Can you tell us about Dr. Boots? Sure, my name is John, although I usually go by Johnny or JC. I am also known as the doctor of football boots, or just plain Dr. Boots. Below is a little info on how I came to be, my experience level, and why I am doing a review website when there are already so many that exist.
How did you get the name “Dr. Boots”? I was pretty much giving someone a history lesson online about a pair of little known soccer/football boots on the BigSoccer Equipment and Gear forum, where I moderate (www.bigsoccer.com/community/forums/soccer-boots.1296/). Someone remarked about how impressed they were with my knowledge of boots and my co-moderator said “Yeah JC is the man … He’s like the Dr. of football boots! hahaha!”.
Why are you doing this? Mainly because I love soccer/football boots; I have always been a shoe guy so to speak, but my interest is a mix of performance ability for the boot, design, production/material quality, innovation, and style. There are “sneakerheads” out there for Air Jordans and the like, but I was probably the first known and recognizable “boothead”, at least on the internet. There are a lot of people who have followed my lead, and while I don’t claim to have totally started the trend, I have probably been around the soccer/football boot game -online- longer than anyone else. I have turned down many opportunities to work on other sites because I wanted to do my own thing, and while it has been a long time coming, it is here now and ready to roll.
What are your credentials? I have 25+ years in the game, and I have played with every level of player there is, from your weekend warrior to current and former members of the US Men’s National team. I still play at the highest amateur level in the nation on regionally and nationally competitive teams, both indoor and outdoor. I was captain of my college soccer team before injury ended my college soccer career. I am currently an assistant coach at the college level, I am USSF licensed as a coach, and I have been an elite level youth soccer coach for more than 10 years where I have worked with some of the best clubs in the nation (based on rankings by nationally respected sources; despite my feelings on these rankings being arbitrary). I also work with a well known and respected European based agency (http://www.pscltd.co.uk/index.htm) to help players get opportunities to play pro soccer in America and abroad. We organize tours going abroad, hold youth ID camps, amateur and professional combines for professional teams, and we also arrange tours for BPL teams that do summer tours in America. And, I worked in the soccer footwear retail industry while I was putting myself through college.
Wait, you are not a former/current pro player? Nope, I never played pro soccer actually. I trialed at one MLS club when I was 19, and I wasn’t ready for that level of play at the time. Technique and skill passed muster, but there was so much more I needed to learn at that stage about how to play. After that, I made a mistake; instead of trying to play at a lower pro level, I decided to play one year of NJCAA for a coach that promised to get me college scholarships and the like and help me get on PDL, and pro teams. The coach was able to do these things, and he was working for me, but the end result was why I view it as a mistake. I was named team captain as a first year player, and was among the nation’s leading scorers, but five games into the season (with several full scholarships already on offer) I shattered my fibula and dislocated and broke my ankle when I was hit with a bad tackle. It took me three years to fully recover from the injury and essentially savaged my hopes of having a true playing career in the game. I did train with a USL team post-injury a couple of times, and they offered me a chance to come to their pre-season camp based on my play. At that stage the small upside to possibly making the team, like $100.00 a game in pay (which is a sad reality in the lower levels of American pro soccer) wasn’t worth the risks on the ankle, or delaying my education any longer.
Does playing pro make someone more qualified to review boots than you (or anyone else)? Yes, and no. When I say “yes” I mean that on the face of it, someone who plays or played pro is much more qualified to give an all-encompassing opinion on a sports specific performance product than an inexperienced high school kid, or a guy that has never played until he started coaching his kids. On the flip side when I say “no” it is because I know a lot of pro players and most of them are not qualified to give a boot review in great detail. They lack the ability to formulate their opinions into a clear and concise message in many cases. Also, many of the guys I know that play pro will play in whatever boots they can get for free or on a deal because of that pesky low pay I mentioned. Finally, many of them just don’t care that much about what they wear compared to a smaller groups of players that are very into their gear. While playing professional sports of any kind is a great accomplishment, there is a dirty little secret in the soccer world here in America and even in abroad; the highest level of amateur play isn’t too far removed from the lower levels of pro play. There is a pretty steady flux of players moving to and from from both worlds on a regular basis. There are some good review sites out there run by ex-pro’s and others that have played amateur soccer exclusively; the content of the review is what matters most. Don’t be mystified by the fact that someone can say they had a cup of coffee in an MLS set-up, or even a long mid-level pro career. Look at why they are doing what they are doing, how they do it, and if the content is without bias while still providing depth and real world application.
Ok, so what Internet experience do have in the boot community? Ok, here is where I might be a little cocky. I can reasonably say that I more or less created it (the Internet boot community), and have played a significant role in it’s existing development to this day. I created and moderate the Equipment and Gear Forum on BigSoccer (www.bigsoccer.com); I began this venture in 2002 before there was even a true presence of a soccer boot community online. I was the first person to leak upcoming release information on unseen boots; I was one of the first people to regularly display a large collection of soccer/football boots beyond the couple of pairs that people use until they had to replace them; and I was one of the first people to give credible online reviews of boots through that forum. When I first started the E&G section the people on the forum would often say “you only need one pair to play in” and so on. Now most of the posters that have a regular presence online have massive collections of boots that they use/rotate and some that they just collect. I can say without batting an eye that at the very least I helped bring liked minded people together, and gave a significant push to the formation of the current online boot community.
What will Dr. Boots provide to the boot community? This will be an all-encompassing, honest, and comprehensive soccer/football boots site with a primary focus on boot reviews, boot news, correct boot history, player interviews about boots and also reviews on equipment outside of boots including balls, apparel, post injury bracing/support (sadly many of us know all too much about the needs of this stuff) and training gear/products. This site will be highly critical of products, and will not pander to companies giving free items (but, I welcome them). There are too many sites and reviewers that are at the least “chummy” with the companies providing products to the point that it influences their reviews. Then there are sites that are out-and-out shills for companies because they are a front for a store selling products, and yes I do mean SoccerBible which is affiliated directly with Pro Direct Soccer.
Are there any other credible review sites out there? Yes, there are plenty and I fully encourage you to support them as well as my site. In order to form your own opinion it helps to experience as much as possible when it comes to information. Off the top of my head I can say thathttp://drboots.com/wp-admin/www.soccerreviewsforyou.com www.soccerreviewsforyou.com is a great site that is run by a BigSoccer member; he has more product under review than anyone else on the web. Also, www.soccercleats101.com is a long-standing, and award-winning site run by a great guy with a lot of soccer experience. I think that site could be more critical at times, but Bryan has been an innovator in the boot review blog game and he stays ahead of the curve with how he delivers information. These two sites generally only have reviews from the owner/operator of the site, which is nice because the narrative and standards are consistent. If there is a “guest” review you can bet that the reviewer is held to a high standard and their ability to deliver a message is well vetted before being given the chance to blog.
Will you (JC/Dr. Boots) be the only boot/product reviewer and source of information? I will be the primary source of information on here when it comes to product reviews, articles, and interviews. I will have some guest reviews for specific products like goalkeeper gloves, as well as reviews from some of my friends that play at high levels that I trust to know their stuff when it comes to soccer/football products. I am also speaking to a few people to work with me as news sources for product leaks, and similar information.
Do you encourage everyone out there to contact you? Sure, if you want to reach me for anything shoot me an email (email@example.com). I will try to respond as soon as I can, and I appreciate all feedback and interaction.