Category Archives: F.C. Tokyo Match Reports

Wrapping up…

As the season winds down to a close, we have stuff to look forward to (or not?) next season…

First, last week’s game against Vissel Kobe.  We won, 1-0.  Hiramatsu scored a fantastic header off of a Suzuki free kick in the 87th minute.  If that was all you saw of the game, congrats: you saw the relevant bit.

Due to several fortunate results, Tokyo is now in sole possession of 5th place heading into the last game of the season vs. Albirex Niigata.  A win, plus a Hiroshima draw or loss, would put Tokyo in 4th place.  Not only would there be a decent bump to the end-of-season prize we would get from being in the top 8 (5th place receives 40 million yen while 4th gets 60 mil.), but we would have a Chance In Hell of going to the ACL next season.

I’m going to repeat that.  Despite everything the team has been through we could still conceivably play in Asia.  IF we get 4th place, and IF Kashima, Kawasaki, or Osaka wins the Emperor’s Cup.  So, to start with, go Kyoto!

The Kobe match was also a day for farewells of various sorts.  For starters, it was the final home game of “The Last Legends of Tokyo Gas” – Satoru Asari (7) and Ryuji Fujiyama (8).  With a combined 31 years of service for FC Tokyo and Tokyo Gas, the two players were often immortalized in gateflags simply as 社員.  They were celebrated in a pre-game tifo:

Following the game the two players made tearful speeches to the home supporters.  While Asari is officially retiring and may continue on with the team as a coach, Fujiyama had previously expressed his desire to continue playing “until my body falls apart” and, in a stunning announcement in front of the home crowd, announced that he will be playing for J2 side Consadole Sapporo next season.

After the speeches, the two players made their way around the pitch:

Unfortunately, it appears that the game was also the last stand at Ajinomoto for Bruno Quadros, who will not be resigning with the squad.  I’m also seeing rumors that Hideki Sahara will be returning to Kawasaki Frontale.

In even less attractive news, I give you our 2010 uniforms:

The home kits are ugly as sin and I refuse to purchase one… what were they thinking with the ‘bib’ design? To be completely honest the photo of Nagatomo makes it look worse than it actually does due to the immense number of flashes going off at once.  That said it’s still a mediocre design and adidas should be ashamed.

I could grow to like the away kit, though.

In other bulletpoint-worthy news…

-We’re after a bunch of players, and none of it’s worth reporting on until we actually sign someone.

-The team has withdrawn from its annual Guam Camp due to the costs involved (roughly $1 million) and will instead train in Miyazaki Prefecture this winter.

-World Cup draws announced! Japan in the pot with Holland, Denmark, and Cameroon.  I say we have a fair shot.

Now, to get another hour or so of sleep before I go to El Loco for the match…

[Match Report] JEF Chiba 2:1 FC Tokyo

Hey all,

Sorry for the lack of reporting lately – I’ve been busy with band-related stuff and to top it all off I was away this weekend so I didn’t get to attend the Chiba game.  Fortunately previous guest writer Andre was, so here’s his report:
I would like to start by thanking Asahi [one of the leaders in LA12 – ed.] for helping me get into the visitor side of Fukuda Denshi after I had to buy a home ticket on account of the visitor side being sold out. Thanks Asahi!

An interesting point has to be made in that every single bottom team relegated to J2 from J1 for next season (Kashiwa, Oita, and JEF) all won their games this weekend. As the season comes to a close these bottom teams seem to have been re-energized, having nothing left to lose. FCT got beaten squarely by pride. The JEF fans were loud and made us have to scream and shout even louder to get FCT into the match. Going into this game FCT has had a difficult run of play post Nabisco Cup, and it seems to have taken its toll on Jofoku`s men. After barely beating Thespa Kusatsu 3-2 (Emperor`s Cup), and the loss to Urawa in J1 play and losing against Vegata Sendai (coincidentally a team going into J1 next season) the week before in the EC, FCT needed more than a week of rest for this game against JEF. Add the fact that Jofoku has a stretched squad already, tired legs and having won some major silverware maybe the team is already looking forward to next season and post-season player moves? It sure seemed like it. Everything was even during the first half. JEF came out strong,fast, and loose, finding space practically everywhere. This lead JEF`s Tatsunori to score on a cross from Baiano in the box.  Defensively Bruno was the only starting defenceman who played strong adding a more attacking role. JEF pressed and pressed, capitalizing on a  sloppy FCT defence, and midfield. The only error of the game by the JEF defence allowed Akamine to score, slipping it under the JEF goalkeeper. 1-1 at halftime.


The second half was an incredibly different affair. Again the FCT defence looked like it didn’t make the trip from Tokyo. With less than five minutes played in the second half another cross into the box got Baiano a free header that Gonda could do nothing about. Shocking to say the least. But we had 40 plus minutes to play and maybe to salvage a point, right? Nope. The team seemed to unravel a little bit after the JEF goal. There were times of attack but Hirayama was stymied every time he tried to play the ball.  Jofoku brought in Hanyu for Otake, nothing. Tatsuya even hit the post. The change, and what proved to me that the squad is so stretched at this point in the season, was that Yusuke Kondo was brought in. To do what? Score goals? I realize that he hasn`t played very much this season but having watched him against Thespa he is, to put it bluntly, really bad. He is too big and too slow to attack the way he does. FCT showed against JEF that it needs fast strikers to play the ball into the box and pressure the defence. It is what FCT is good at and what gets points on the board. No Ishikawa and no Cabore. No speed. Hirayama does not have the speed and neither does Yusuke. Both are more attacking mid fielders at best, poachers. Neither of them have the burst to get them over the top. Tatsuya does but is relegated to the outside to feed Yusuke and Hirayama. It wasn`t working, and I beg Jofoku to seriously look at what opportunities Tatsuya has to offer in a more striking role for the upcoming games against Kobe and Niigata.


Finally, the ref was lucky to get out of the game without us running onto the pitch and throwing him out of the stadium. Near the final ten minutes it seemed as if the entire Fukuda Denki stadium was colluding against us. Everybody seemed in slow motion from the ref to the staff. JEF players had been taking their time with the ball right after their go ahead goal. Jofoku was so irate that he was given a talking to by the ref. We saw red, and then Hirayama did, in the form of a card. It was a ridiculous display of refereeing in the final 30 minutes. The major call was the second yellow of the game against Hirayama for an alleged elbow. A JEF player had climbed over Hirayama`s back and he, Hirayama, shucked him off. Then the second yellow, followed by the red. No Hirayama for the final home game of the season against Kobe on Saturday. If anything this is a stern reminder of what is wrong with FCT right now. You are only as good as your last game and we should not be resting on our Nabisco Cup laurels. Full points in the final two games of the season can get us to at 55 points on the year and possibly, if fate is with us, top 5. Worthy of our season. Jofoku has a lot to think about this week. We need to rally behind him and the Red and Blue this weekend, because man, they are going to need it.

[Match Report] Nabisco Cup Final FC Tokyo 2:0 (1:0) Kawasaki Frontale

2009 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Final
First Half
1- 0
Second Half

1- 0

Final
2 – 0

August 1st 2009, 2:09PM kickoff at “Kokuritsu” National Stadium (attendance 44,308)
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Yasuyuki Konno
DF 33 Kenta Mukuhara
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 40 Tatsuya Suzuki
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 24 Shingo Akamine
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 1 Eiji Kawashima
DF 19 Yusuke Mori
DF 17 Kosuke Kikuchi
DF 2 Hiroki Ito
DF 26 Kazuhiro Murakami
MF 29 Hiroyuki Taniguchi
MF 18 Tomonobu Yokoyama
MF 14 Kengo Nakamura
FW 9  Chong Tese
FW 10 Juninho
FW 34 Renatinho
60′ 5 Yuto Nagatomo (for Akamine)
74′ 15 Daishi Hiramatsu (for Hanyu)
86′ Hideki Sahara (for Suzuki)
Substitutes 70′ 6 Yusuke Tasaka (for Murakami)
79′ 7 Masano Kurotsu (for Renatinho)
84′ 23 Kyohei Noborizato (for Yokoyama)
22′ Yonemoto
59′ Hirayama
Goals
58′ Yonemoto
62′ Hanyu
Cautions 24′ Yokoyama
Ejections

Report

In a season where fans have begun to express concern at the nearly regular showings of diving, complaining, and otherwise poor sportsmanship in the Japanese game, the soccer-kami sat up on their mountain, cracked open a tall can of Sapporo, and declared with a booming voice “on this day, at Kokuritsu, there shall be a good clean 90 minutes of championship-caliber soccer.”

And by Gods, they got it.

This year’s 3rd edition of the Tamagawa Classico played out on the national stage, in front of a sold-out crowd of over 44,000 at Tokyo’s National Stadium with many more watching nationwide on TV.  Supporters for both teams were as ready for combat as the players, with fans lining up throughout the frigid and sometimes rainy night.  We got to the campout at 5am and enjoyed some chatting with fellow supporters as well as delicious dolphin stew.  When the gates finally opened, Tokyo supporters streamed through the turnstiles to hunt for seats, quickly filling the home end of the stadium.  Kawasaki fans soon joined them, and both team’s supporters would complete gorgeous choreography displays suitable for such a grand arena.  But after all of the flag-waving, balloon blowing, and toilet paper throwing, the match finally began, and of course that’s what you’re here to read about, right?

Well, fuck that, let’s watch those tifos:

The game started with both teams attempting to gain control, and was pretty even in the first 15 minutes.  Kawasaki pressed with a couple close shots (including a close-range bullet from Juninho that flew over the crossbar for reasons that defied us at the time), but Tokyo despite their sloppy defensive play somehow fought back and showed that they would not be pushed around.  Then, 22 minutes in, Tokyo pressed with a counterattack that saw the ball fall in front of 18-year old Takuji Yonemoto, who had been awarded the J.League New Hero Award (given to an under-23 player for outstanding contribution to his team in the Nabisco Cup) the night before.  30 yards out and with players swarming around him, Yone did what comes natural to a young player with more balls than brains and shot a curving bullet that everyone expected to fly safely into the hands of Kawasaki’s keeper.

Until it went in and the home end erupted in cheers.

Yonemoto’s goal was a fitting sequel to that daisy cutter against Shimizu in the semi-finals, and it threw Kawasaki back on their heels while giving Tokyo the confidence needed to solidify its defense and push on offense.  This continued till the whistle to end the first half, which passed by in what seemed like a moment.

15 minutes later, both teams came out for the second half seemingly ready to outdo their first-half performance.  Kawasaki pushed hard, committing more men to the attack only to be denied each time as either Gonda or a swarm of Tokyo players practically threw themselves on top of the ball in an attempt to stop the Frontale attack.  The fans in the away end, sensing an opportunity to get back into the game, sang at an even greater volume than before.

Suddenly, a Kengo Nagamura free kick lead to a Tokyo counter with Suzuki and Hirayama screaming down the pitch.  As Kawasaki’s defenders caught up with them, Suzuki flipped the ball that Sota, whose last appearance on the national stage at Kokuritsu was as a high schooler, was waiting for.

The only thought that came to mind was “finally.”  Anyone who’s watched Hirayama play this season knows that he’s had a desire verging on obsessive to score on a header (going so far as to shave his head for aerodynamic purposes), and yet in each game and in each practice shot it appears that once the ball comes into contact with his glittering dome the rebound is almost magnetically attracted to the “anywhere but the goal” area.  Well, this day was different and Tokyo took a commanding 2-0 lead with but half an hour left in the match.

With a 2-goal cushion, Jofuku opted to reinforce defensively by bringing in Nagatomo (who started on the bench b/c of his shoulder) and Dashi Hiramatsu.  This defensive posturing allowed Kawasaki to press the attack in a series of crosses, volleys, and corner kicks, each of which ended in a spectacularly heart-stopping moment as Tokyo’s supporters struggled to see where the ball was.  According to the official statistics Kawasaki took 17 shots in the game, but from where we were standing it seemed like they took 20 in the second half alone.  Crossbars were hit, Gonda was flying everywhere, and I recalled the highlights I’ve seen of Tokyo’s stunning effort against Urawa 5 years ago with each player exerting everything they had to stop the ball.  Yonemoto was everywhere at once, stealing balls from Juninho and Tese and showing why he was the New Hero.  Hiramatsu gave Frontale a free kick minutes after coming on after a hard tackle to stop a Kawasaki drive.  And so it continued, punctuated only by a swift counterattack that should have been a 3rd goal as both Nagatomo and Suzuki failed to find an open net.  Jofuku completed the defensive alignment by subbing out Suzuki for Hideki Sahara, but by then the wind had left the Frontale sails.  Kawasaki pushed, Tokyo didn’t break, and after a surprising 4 minutes of extra time the referee sounded the final whistle, bringing an end to 90 minutes of dive-free, hard-fought soccer and giving Tokyo its first championship in 5 years.  And the soccer-kami smiled.

The MVP award was, unsurprisingly, awarded to Takuji Yonemoto, making him the youngest player to win the Cup MVP; he gets one million yen (US$11,000) and bragging rights for the rest of his life.

Many more photos and video to come in a separate post, including the post-game victory rally at Ajinomoto Stadium.  For now a hearty congratulations to my fellow supporters and a tip of the hat to Kawasaki’s supporters and players.  It seems that the post-game conduct of Frontale’s players has sparked a bit of controversy, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that they played a fantastic match.  Tokyo just played more fantastically, and are deservedly your 2009 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Champions.

[Match Report] J1 Week 30 Shimizu S-Pulse 1:2 FC Tokyo

J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Semifinal Part 2
First Half
1- 2
Second Half
0 – 0

Final
1 – 2

October 25th 2009, 1:03PM Kickoff at Nihondaira “Outsourcing” Stadium (Shimizu, Shizuoka) Attendance 19,275
GK K. Yamamoto
DF Ichikawa
DF Iwashita
DF Arata
DF Ota
MF Edamura
MF M. Yamamoto
MF Ito
MF Hyodo
FW Johnsen
FW Okazaki
Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Teriyuki Konno
DF 5 Yuto Nagatomo
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 40 Tatsuya Suzuki
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 24 Shingo Akamine
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Fujimoto on for Hyodo (68)
Hara on for Masaki (69)
Takaki on for Arata (78)

Substitutes 25′ 33 Kenta Mukuhara (for Nagatomo)
76′ 15 Daishi Hiramatsu (for Tatsuya)
85′ 8 Ryuji Fujiyama (for Hanyu)
7′ Okazaki Goals 3′ Tatsuya Suzuki
39′ Own Goal
89′ Iwashita Cautions 28′ Sota Hirayama
33′ Shingo Akamine
Ejections

Report

Apologies for the late report, Nabisco Cup preparations are consuming my days.
It was a sunny, blustery afternoon at Nihondaira; perfect for a soccer match.  Nihondaira has become one of my favorite stadiums in Japan this season; great architecture combined with a welcoming atmosphere, great concessions, and a passionate supporter base.  We took all local trains (3.5 hours but also about 40% of the cost of a shinkansen), so the trip started at about 9AM, but it was worth it to arrive up the mountain.

Oh, and the game was pretty good too, except when it wasn’t.  Most of this has to do with the a Mr. Joji Kashihara, a referee so incompetent that he wouldn’t be able to officiate a game of rock paper scissors without calling a foul.  Between the constant whistling of non-fouls, whistling of real fouls, and general ineptitude, the game proceeded with a glacial pace at times with the players almost unwilling to go full steam out of fear that the play would just be whistled dead.  According to his Wikipedia entry (Japanese only), Kashihara is known for whistling too often, brandishing cards too often, and allowing the game to get out of control too easily.  He refereed the Urawa Reds-Manchester United friendly in ’05, as well as a Shonan Bellmare-Tokyo Verdy match in ’07 which saw 12 yellow cards and 2 ejections.

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned in the first half Tokyo were playing against 12 men.

The first half started with a bang as Tatsuya snuck in a fantastic header goal that seemed to set the pace for the day.  4 minutes later, however, Shimizu capitalized on a corner kick to get one back courtesy of Okazaki, who scored about 50 goals in NT play earlier this month.  Once again, Tokyo’s ineffectiveness at defending against the set play was plain for all to see, but the team fought back (against both S-Pulse and the ref) and gained control of the game back.

At 25′, a stunning substitution as Nagatomo was pulled out for Kenta Mukuhara.  It was later announced that Nagatomo had suffered a dislocated shoulder (!) during pre-game warmups.  The team has announced that it will take 3 weeks for him to fully heal but from what I understand they’re gonna tape him up and give him some Tylenol and push him onto the field next Tuesday.  In any case, Mukuhara did very well in Nagatomo’s stead so it could have been worse.

At about 35′, Tokyo scored what we thought was goal #2… until it was called back for offsides.  I need to see a replay to determine whether or not it was a valid offsides call, but by then the supporters were absolutely exasperated.  Fortunately 4 minutes later Shimizu defender Iwashita would give us a gift; in attempting to clear the ball he unintentionally headed it in for an own goal.  Thanks #5!  Tokyo would go into halftime with a 2-1 lead.

The second half featured less scoring but someone must have warned Kashihara that unless he started calling some fouls against Shimizu someone was gonna file a complaint, because the groans from the home end echoed those of the away end in the first half.  Tokyo basically managed to assert complete control of the game and displayed some of its signature passing and created a few more scoring chances that, sadly, didn’t work out.  Near the end of the game, lifetime Tokyo veteran Ryuji Fujiyama, who announced earlier this week that he would be leaving the team after 16 years with the organization, came on as a substitution much to the delight of the visiting crowd.  After 90 minutes the players were exhausted and a few limped to the visitor end, but the 3 points were ours.

With this victory, Tokyo is in 5th place:

1.  Kawasaki Frontale (55)
2. Kashima Antlers (54)
3. Gamba Osaka (51)
4. Shimizu S-Pulse (50)
5. FC Tokyo (49)

and not only are we in 5th place but stunningly, despite all of the problems this team has had to face over the course of the season, we are still in ACL contention.  More on that in the next post.  For now, back to flagmaking.

[Match Report] J1 Week 29 FC Tokyo 4-0 Kashiwa Reysol

J.League Division 1 Week 29
First Half
1- 0Second Half
3- 0

Final
4-0

June 7th 2009, 1:04PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 28,235
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Yasuyuki Konno
DF 33 Kenta Mukuhara
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 24 Shingo Akamine
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 33 Takanori Sugeno
DF 25 Yusuke Murakami
DF 3 Naoya Kondo
DF 13 Yuzo Kobayashi
DF 7 Hidekazu Otani
MF 28 Ryoichi Kurisawa
MF 34 Kota Sugiyama
MF 37 Masato Yamazaki
MF 41 Junya Tanaka
FW 15 Minoru Suganuma
FW 9 Hideaki Kitajima
71' 27 Soutan Tanabe (for Ishikawa)76' 14 Hokuto Nakamura (for Hanyu)

87' 19 Yohei Otake (for Hirayama)

Substitutes HT 36 Masato Kudo (for Yamazaki)

59' 11 Popo (for Tanaka)

71' 2 Kamata (for Sugiyama)

44' Akamine
55' Hanyu
62' Hirayama
69' Ishikawa
Goals
Cautions 40' Katajima
77' Kamata
Ejections

Report

So, let's take care of the elephant in the room.

Naohiro Ishikawa, currently tied for the league scoring title (15 goals), went down hard in the process of scoring Tokyo's fourth goal of the game and was immediately removed by stretcher.  There's a bit of debate as to whether or not he was fouled by the Kashiwa player… I don't really think it was anything extreme and it's the kind of play that could have happened to anyone, which is saying a lot given how rough Kashiwa played over the course of the match.

So, here's what we know:

-Ishikawa was taken from the pitch to the locker room, where they iced his knee and wrapped it.

-According to postgame comments by Kajiyama, Ishikawa was walking (albeit panfully), under his own power, without crutches.  He was taken by ambulance to a hospital for observation and sent home, and is to receive a full exam today (Monday).

-Ishikawa posted to his blog on Saturday night.  “I have no regrets about the play… I hope that the injury is light, but I've had a knee injury before so I have a feeling… I hope that feeling is wrong, though.”

-Reports posted to Twitter on Sunday indicate that Ishikawa stopped by Kodaira Ground in order to receive treatment and was walking without crutches or a wheelchair.

-According to Nikkan Sports, Nao said to reporters “I could swear I heard something in my knee when I fell… I immediately got the sense that it won't be easy to heal quickly, but we'll see what the doctors say tomorrow.”  Such a sound could be indicative of ligament damage; a torn ACL would require surgery and 6-9 months of recovery, putting Nao's hopes of playing in the 2010 World Cup at risk.

-Matsu of The Rising Sun predicts, after looking at the injury video, that Nao sustained a hyperextended knee as opposed to ligament damage.  Such an injury would take at least 2-4 weeks of recovery.

The absolute sunshine-and-rainbows optimistic view is that it's a hyperextension and Nao could possibly come on as a substitute in the Nabisco Cup game.  Worst-case is that he's out for at least the rest of this season and the first 2-3 months of next season, and he'd need an absolute miracle to play in South Africa.  In any case it's an absolute tragedy and the team (and supporters) will have to rally together.

Let's not let this injury take away from the good parts of the match: Tokyo played a physical game and controlled an equally-physical Kashiwa squad.  Akamine, Hanyu, and Hirayama all had great goals (particularly the defying physics that lead to Hanyu's score).  Hanyu's total effort was one goal and 3 assists… but yeah, the air was certainly much, much different after Ishikawa was taken off the field.

Here's the rest of the highlights from the game.

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Catching Up: Osaka, Iwata, Nagoya, NT, Emperor's, yadda yadda

Why no, I haven't disappeared into a black hole, but September was an unusually busy month for me and October isn't shaping up to be much freer.  Here's what I've missed posting about:

-The Gamba Osaka match was pretty much exactly as you'd expect from an 0-0 draw; the team fought valiantly without Hirayama but it was pretty much a deadlock.  Not even going to bother posting highlights, nothing to see here.

-The first half of the Jubilo Iwata match was pretty much as lifeless as the Gamba match… then it got interesting in the second half, turning into a back-and-forth shootout that culminated in a come-from-behind 3-2 Tokyo victory.  Ishikawa, Nagatomo, and Akamine all contributed goals in the win.

-The Nagoya match was a much more fiercely contested match than expected.  Tokyo went up 2-1 in the first half on goals by Ishikawa and Suzuki but faced a resurgent Nagoya in the second half.  The team hit a roadblock when Teriyuki Moniwa sustained a severe cut under his eye after taking an inadvertent elbow from Aussie striker Kennedy.  Still, Tokyo prevailed and is currently in 7th place.
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-Four FCT players were named to the National Team for October's matches: Konno, Nagatomo, Ishikawa, and Tokunaga.  For some reason or another Ishikawa was left off the squad for the Hong Kong game, a 6-0 romping by Japan in which Nagatomo scored a goal and Tokunaga contributed an assist as a substitute.  Ishikawa finally found a starting role in last night's exhibition game against Scotland, a largely meaningless affair that Japan finally won 2-0

And now I'm off to Ajinomoto Stadium to watch anyone Jofuku deems healthy enough to play take on Kamatamare Sanuki in the Emperor's Cup Round 2.  I expect that both Sanuki fans making the trip will be very nice people.

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News Roundup: Cabore's Departure, Nabisco Tickets, Kyot

I'm a little busy so I've fallen behind on postings, here's the latest from Tokyo:
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-Cabore has officially signed with Qatar club Al Arabi, with a reported transfer fee of 500 million yen (roughly $5.5 million at the current exchange rate).  The club has offered a formal apology to fans for not being able to set up a proper farewell from the star forward, and he expressed his heartfelt thanks to the fans and support for the club in a message published on the team website.

-Nabisco Cup tickets went on sale on Saturday morning at 10AM and were completely sold out less than an hour later.  The stage is set for a packed house at Kokuritsu on November 3rd

-Tokyo lost 1-2 to Kyoto.  In addition Hirayama recieved his 4th yellow, meaning he will be out for the Gamba match.  Let's move on until I have time to compose all of my thoughts.

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[Match Report] Nabisco Cup Semifinal Part 2 – FC Tokyo 1:0 Shimizu S-Pulse

J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Semifinal Part 2
First Half
1- 0
Second Half
0 – 0

Final
1 – 0

September 6th 2009, 6PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 22,181
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 2 Teriyuki Moniwa
DF 33 Kenta Mukuhara
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
to be added
72' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Hanyu)
80' 3 Hideki Sahara (for Hirayama)
82' 15 Daishi Hiramatsu (for Ishikawa)
Substitutes
17' Sota Hirayama Goals
Cautions
Ejections

Report

On a triumphant night at Ajinomoto Stadium, I… was in Shibuya, shooting PUNKAFOOLIC SHIBUYA CRASH.  I was fortunate enough, however, to catch the result right before I went to shoot dustbox, and as they say in the local parlance テンション上がった!  While being a Tokyo supporter comes with its ups and downs, such is the life of all soccer supporters, as similarly expressed by the chorus of dustbox's Hurdle Race:

Just like a hurdle race!
Gotta get over again and again.
Just like a hurdle race!
What's waiting for me!?

…okay, yeah, that's a bit of a stretch, but give me some credit for trying to tie it all together.

With this victory, FC Tokyo advances to its first Nabisco Cup final in 5 years, when it defeated Urawa in a much-storied penalty shootout to claim its only silverware in club history.  Tokyo's opponent will be Kawasaki Frontale, a team that has so far stymied Tokyo twice this season but faces one of the roughest schedules out of all J.League teams in the next month:
Sept. 12 — Antlers
19 — Urawa Reds
23 — Grampus (ACL)
26 — Gamba
30 — Grampus (ACL)

Yeah, wow, that's brutal.

In October, Kawasaki has to play against Yokohama FM, Omiya Ardija, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, plus the Round 2 Emperor's Cup Match (I assume that their hypothetical Round 3 match, like Tokyo's, will be moved to November 11th due to their Cup Final appearance).  Additionally, should Kawasaki beat Nagoya in the ACL quarterfinal series, they would advance to the semifinals and play matches on the 21st and 28th of October.  While both of Kawasaki's prospective opponents are located in the Middle East, it appears that the 28th would be played at Kawasaki so there's less hope that the team will be horribly jet-lagged before the 3rd.

Anyway, while I can't personally report on the match, I've made friends this summer with Andre, a Canadian supporter of FC Tokyo who's spending nearly half a year travelling around Japan and seeing lots of FCT matches.  He was there on Sunday and so I've asked him to share his thoughts with our readership:

For those of us overseas cats who can only follow our favorite Asian squads via the internet, to actually be able to watch that favorite Asian squad reach a cup final, live, during your travels is a unique experience. I had the opportunity to sing, chant and scream as the Red and Blue won a convincing 1-0 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse last night at Ajinomoto. Having the advantage from the 2-2 draw on Wednesday night in Shimizu, Tokyo could have defended, sat back and hoped for the best. A draw, the better nil nil draw, would have seen the team back into the finals it won in 2004. And if you, like myself, watched how poorly the team played at the start of this campaign; not to mention the last several weeks before Oita, you can understand the collective sigh of relief many of us had after the final 4 minutes of stoppage time was whistled down. What needed to happen, and happen quickly was the return of Hirayama to form, as he has been having some extremely frustrating games as of late. The slump is officially over. A cross was met by Hirayama and found its way into the back of the net comfortably.  Hirayama was all smiles and cheers.  In replay it kinda looked like an S Pulse defender deflected it in the 50/50 between himself and Hirayama in the box, but who cares about such details. Tokyo was up 1-0, albeit fairly early in the game.

The rest of the match reflected how this series began at Shimizu and is ultimatly, I believe won us the the semi-final: defense. The defending was strong, more so than in last weeks' first leg. Bruno, my dear Bruno, was a menace on the back line preventing many a Shimizu attack. The most dangerous  player on Shimizu, and someone who Tokyo had a hard time dealing with on Wednesday was the big Norwegian Johnsen.  Frode was finally kept quiet by the Tokyo defenders last night. The chances went Tokyos' way for most of the match, with Cabore and Ishikawa having some difficulty in linking up, as opportunities were flying everywhere in the middle and late parts of the second half. Cabore was giving it his all and if what is rumoured turns out to be true, and this was Cabore`s final game for Tokyo, he went out flying. Ishikawa is still looking like he's trying way too hard to get back to where he left off before his injury, making silly errors, but he still looked fast and strong the only way Ishikawa can. What I liked, and it seemed that Jofoku gave the team the same advice at halftime, was to not let Shimizu dictate or pressure the game. There was a lot to lose during the match and Tokyo never allowed Shimizu to  bully or rally. Shimizu can be a difficult team to play,  playing particularly well before these semi-final legs in regular league play.

November 3rd is closer than you think, and with Kawasaki defeating Yokohama, this final is going to be something to write home about. I can hardly wait.

Andre

Thanks for the report, Andre!

If you haven't seen the sticky on the top of our website, you can go here for our special Nabisco Cup Ticket Info page.  For the next two months, look to Aishiteru Tokyo for the net's most comprehensive English coverage of FC Tokyo and their journey to Kokuritsu for the final battle against Tamagawa Clasico rivals Kawasaki Frontale.

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Halfway Home

Full report and photos from the wonderful Outsourcing Stadium are a bit delayed; I'm on my backup computer while my MacBook Pro gets some needed repairs before the 3-year warranty runs out next week and all of the photos are on my Mac-formatted RAID server
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For now what you need to know is this: Tokyo tied Shimizu 2-2 in the away leg of the semifinal on Wednesday night and is coming home to a must-win (or at least must-scoreless-draw) situation.

The result was unfortunate as Tokyo pretty much blew a 2-1 lead up a man; this is as much an indictment of Tokyo's sloppy play in the second half as it is recognition of Shimizu's tenacity.  Oddly enough they scored when down a man against Tokyo in their Nabisco Cup Group Stage match as well, so this is a very unfortunate trend.  Bruno matched up well against Shimizu's big man Frode Johnsen in the first half, Kenta Mukuhara was not as effective in the second.

Yonemoto's goal was a shocker; he seems to have picked up a tendency to score goals he has no right to get.  But hell, I could think of worse habits.

Anyway I'm glad I made the trip out to Shimizu; their stadium is FANTASTIC and I recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a game in Japan.  Wonderful sight lines, beautiful backdrop, great concessions, superb atmosphere.  I even got to meet up with Barry over at S-Pulse UK Ultras; bringing my total of fellow J-Bloggers I've met up to 3 thus far.  We've got a tight little community going and I hope that the planned upgrades to the Rising Sun will help us spread the word even further.

But now we look ahead to Sunday; disappointingly I won't be able to attend the match (I've been given the chance to shoot a major punk festival in Shibuya and I can't turn that down no matter how deep my soccer loyalties lie) but I have high hopes that the fans at Ajinomoto can help the team carry through to the finals.  Here's the result breakdown:

Result – Consequence

Tokyo win (any score) – Tokiyo advances to Nabisco Cup Final
0-0 draw – Tokyo advances to Nabisco Cup Final (away goal rule)
1-1 draw – Tokyo advances to Nabisco Cup Final (away goal rule)
2-2 draw – Following the second half, teams play 30 minutes of extra time followed by penalty kicks if necessary
3-3 draw or higher – Shimizu advances to Nabisco Cup Final (away goal rule)
Shimizu win (any score) – Shimizu advances to Nabisco Cup Final

So as it is with most of these affairs, the safest way in is to win.  I think Tokyo is more than capable of doing so (especially if they play as they did in the first 45 minutes on Wednesday), but that's why they play the full 90 minutes.

As it is, Hirayama apparently caught a fever and has been bedrested for a day or so, whether or not he recovers by Sunday will be crucial.

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Match Report: J1 Round 19: Kawasaki Frontale vs. FC Tokyo

J.League Division 1 Week 19
First Half
0 – 1

Second Half
2 – 0

Final
2 – 1

August 1st 2009, 7PM Kickoff at Todoroki Soccer Stadium (Nakahara, Kawasaki) Attendance ##,###
GK 1 Eiji Kawashima
DF 19 Yusuke Mori
DF 13 Shuhei Terada
DF 2 Hiroki Ito
DF 26 Kazuhiro Murakami
MF 18 Tomonobu Yokoyama
MF 29 Hiroyuki Taniguchi
MF 14 Kengo Nakamura
FW 15 Takuro Yajima
FW 10 Juninho
FW 8 Satoru Yamagishi
Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Yasuyuki Konno
DF 5 Yuto Nagatomo
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 9 Cabore
%%anc%%
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
53' 34 Renatinho (for Satoru Yamagishi)
65' 4 Yusuke Igawa (for Kazuhiro Murakami)
71' 20 Yuji Yabu (for Tomonobu Yokoyama)
Substitutes 70' 27 Sotan Tanabe (for Takuji Yonemoto)
77' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Cabore)
82' 24 Shingo Akamine (for Naohiro Ishikawa)
55' Juninho
89' Hiroyuki Taniguchi
Goals 37' Naohiro Ishikawa
44' Shuhei Terada
87' Renatinho
Cautions 3' Bruno Quadros
73' Yohei Kajiyama
Ejections

Report

Sorry this came late but I was at Rock In Japan Festival all weekend and spent the rest of the week recovering.  From the looks of it, doesn't seem like a match I would have enjoyed attending much anyway.  Jofuku returned to the lineup that had given the team so much success in the last couple months, but a failure to keep the lead resulted in a heartbreaking injury time loss.  Tokyo now sits at 6th place in the standings (edged out by Shimizu on points) and Kashima's loss means that the top half of the table draws ever closer.

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