Rattet said the new Highlight cleats and the ClutchFit Force soccer cleats will be sold at Dick's Sporting Goods and through online sites and catalogs, while the running shoes will be sold only at Finish Line and through Under Armour's stores and online site.

Starting with limited distribution channels makes sense, according to Poser, who said the hype of new ideas in footwear, from all brands, often doesn't translate to sales right away.

"They would much rather sell out and know they have a winner than put out a ton of pairs and don't meet up to expectations," he said. Additionally, "If you want to get your shoe placed, something else comes out. Under Armour has to take money away from Nike or Jordan or Asics, and that's difficult to do."

Under Armour is up to the challenge and sees itself boosting market share by going after the $6 billion global soccer market as well as basketball and running while continuing to expand an already strong market share in football and baseball, Rattet said.

Konik, who upped his Under Armour stock rating to a buy on Thursday, said part of the Under Armour sales he pegs at reaching $15 billion in a decade will come from footwear, running in particular, where shoes a have a higher profit margin than cleats.

Under Armour "is at the tipping point of establishing itself as serious footwear player," Konik said. "We believe as the footwear business grows, it can stimulate incremental apparel sales and vice versa."

Besides footwear, he believes the company will benefit from strong athletic apparel trends and the brand's growing popularity with children and women.

Yale Schalk, executive editor of the CounterKicks website, said he was sent a sample of Under Armour's Spine ClutchFit running shoe to try out last week.

"It's a very light shoe, very form-fitting," Schalk said. "It fits very close to your foot, so when your foot flexes, the material doesn't bunch, which is always a plus. I really think they believe strongly in it because they're introducing this across their entire footwear line."

The shoe, sold at Finish Line for $99.99 starting this month, fits an industry trend toward lightweight and form-fitting performance-based shoes, he said.

"These days, performance and fashion are completely intertwined," Schalk said. "It's almost performance as fashion, and people will look for anything considered performance. [Under Armour] knows they have to strike a balance between performance and the aesthetic of the shoe. They're not Nike, they're not Adidas. In some ways they're still trying to hit their stride. I kind of think this is their best bet at this point."

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com