Will the 2014 World Cup Soccer Ball Score?

As it does every four years, Adidas recently introduced the latest official ball for the 2014 World Cup, nicknamed "Brazuca." To get a true read on just how different the balls are, WSJ's Matt Futterman asked Kosuke Kumera of the New York Red Bulls to test every ball for the World Cup since 1970.

UNLIKE BASKETBALLS, baseballs and badminton birdies, the soccer ball keeps changing.
Every four years, the official ball of the World Cup gets an overhaul. For the upcoming games in Brazil, for example, the ball's panels were reshaped and reduced in number, and the texture of the surface tweaked.Because the new design quickly trickles down to players of all levels, everyone from soccer god Cristiano Ronaldo to teenage club players must adjust to a ball that looks, feels and flies differently from the one they just got used to. It's an obstacle that athletes don't face in other sports, where ball designs have been static for decades.
Adidas has created every World Cup ball since 1970. Legend has it, Adi Dassler, the company's founder, came up with the iconic 32-panel pattern of hexagons and pentagons because it allowed for the roundest shape possible. He colored the ball black and white to make it easier to see on the black-and-white televisions of the day.
Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, Adidas wrestled with how to create a ball that would maintain its shape even when kicked at 80 miles an hour and exposed to water. (Soccer is played under blue skies and in downpours, and the field is watered before each half to keep the ball moving.)
The water problem was solved in 1982. Adidas applied a polyurethane coat to the exterior of what would be the last World Cup ball made of leather, and put rubber on the seams to prevent moisture from seeping in.
Today, the classic 32-panel, hexagon-pentagon design has given way to one with propeller-shape panels. The engineering obsession has shifted to improving aerodynamics and giving the synthetic exterior the feel of genuine leather.
"The game is all about touch," said Antonio Zea, Adidas's director of global innovation for soccer. "So the question is, how do I engineer the best feeling ball—a ball that, when I pass or shoot it, is soft to the touch?"Despite using computer modeling and wind-tunnel testing, Adidas's designs haven't always proven successful. The company's 2010 World Cup ball was so smooth and light, many players complained that it felt like a volleyball. Nearly everyone hated it.
To stabilize the aerodynamics of this year's model, named Brazuca, Adidas added about half an ounce to the weight of the ball, gave it the pebble-like surface similar to a basketball and deepened the seams, an effort to make the ball sail more steadily through the air.
Major League Soccer has been using Brazuca this season. So far, the ball has received good reviews.
"The first time you touch it, you know what it's going to do, and within five minutes you can figure out if you need to change [the way you play]," said Jeff Agoos, technical director for Major League Soccer and a former member of the U.S. national team.
Clint Irwin, goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids, said that Brazuca "flies a lot more true" compared with earlier World Cup balls. "You don't have those crazy moments like you did with the balls they used in the past," he said.
Here, a look at how the soccer ball has rolled through the years.
From left: Brazuca Top Replique, Brazuca Top Glider, Brazuca Glider and Brazuca Mini
Adidas sells five versions of Brazuca, which vary in construction, materials, size and price. Advanced and even mid-level players will appreciate the feel of the real deal, but that doesn't mean quality games can't be had with the others. The $160 Official Match Ball may be the easiest for a pro to control, but it's the least forgiving for young amateurs. Remember, Pelé, the Brazilian soccer legend, started with balled-up rags. adidas.com
Brazuca Top Replique
Seamless construction, like the official ball, but with a smooth skin and more bounce.$40
Brazuca Top Glider 
Machine-stitched seams deaden this ball a bit, making it ideal for kids learning precision passing. $30
Brazuca Glider
The 32-panel design gives the ball a classic but somewhat less responsive feel. $20
Brazuca Mini
Same propeller-panel design as the official ball, but shrunk to roughly the size of a cantaloupe. $13