Match Preview: J1 Week 13, FC Tokyo vs. Kawasaki Frontale (5/24)

May 24th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo)

J1 Competition Record: FCT 5 wins, 4 draws, Kawasaki Frontale 4 wins

Background

It’s Clasico time!  FC Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale will take on each other in the 15th edition of the Tamagawa Clasico and the last J.League match before the national team break.  This rivalry, more or less a low-level derby, came as a resulty of the Tamagawa River that separates Western Tokyo and Kanagawa.  The front offices of both teams work together to promote the Clasico, which has provided several entertaining matches.  In the last two years, the team that has won the first leg has gone on to win the second; Kawasaki took the series in ’07 and Tokyo dominated in ’08.  With J.League Division 1 set to return to play at the end of June, a win would put either team in contention going into the next part of the season.

Though off to a shaky start this year, Tokyo looks to be regaining its form and several players who have been out with injuries recently (Cabore, Tokunaga, Ishikawa, and Kajiyama) appear to be healthy and are in the running to make the roster tomorrow.  Tokyo’s lineup has also been bolstered by the long-awaited appearance of Hokuto Nakamura, who capped his J1 return with a goal against Yokohama F. Marinos last Saturday night.

The Matchup

Kawasaki has one of the most potent offenses in the league; to say that Gonda will be challenged is an understatement.  The question is not if he will have to make a big save, but when.  Defense will be helped by Tokunaga’s return; Konno has done quite well in the backfield and it will be interesting to see if Jofuku keeps him there.

Offensively, though goals still aren’t coming as frequently as anyone will like, the offense seems like it could come together with Hirayama redoubling his efforts and Nakamura making a big splash onto the scene.  Whether Ishikawa and Kajiyama will have an impact on their return is to be seen, but Cabore back in front will certainly be welcome.

On the weather front, rain predicted for tomorrow.  Yuck.

Predictions

The last couple Clasicos at Ajinomoto have been high-scoring affairs, however I fear that if the same happens tomorrow it will not be in Tokyo’s favor.  The team is capable of winning a 1-0 or 2-1 match, but unless the offense suddenly finds its mojo Tokyo can’t win in a shootout.  The rain predicted to fall tomorrow could be in Tokyo’s favor as it becomes a game of attrition.

Errata

The team announced today that in response to the flu threat, normal on-field pre-game activities involving the fans will not take place.  These include the group of kids that give the players high-fives as they come onto the field for practice, the fans carrying the Fair Play flag, and the children that hold the players’ hands as they come onfield during the official introductions.  The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra concert, however, is still on and will hopefully be fantastic.

3 thoughts on “Match Preview: J1 Week 13, FC Tokyo vs. Kawasaki Frontale (5/24)”

  1. >Y.N.W.A.

    If my friends who were visiting from the US hadn’t talked me down from the ledge it might have happened =P

    I’ve been buried in work the last 3 weeks, hoping to catch up on reports this weekend. Helluva game on Wednesday night, eh? If only they could come from behind during J1 matches…

  2. Couldn’t go Wedsday unfortunately, but saw the highlights on MX-tv last night.
    Casualyama’s strike is gunna take some topping for goal of the season!

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