Category Archives: F.C. Tokyo Match Reports

Match Report: Kashiwa Reysol vs. FC Tokyo (Nabisco Cup Group Stage)

J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Group Stage Round 1

First Half
2 – 1

Second Half
1 – 0

Final
3 – 1

March 25th 2009, 7PM Kickoff at Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium (Kashiwa, Chiba) Attendance 5,835
GK 21 Yuta Minami
DF 23 Yohei Kurakawa
DF 3 Naoya Kondo
DF 13 Yuzo Kobayashi
DF 4 Naoki Ishikawa
MF 2 Jiro Kamata
MF 18 Iwao Yamane
FW 14 Keisuke Ota
FW 11 Popo
FW 9 Hideaki Kajima
FW 27 Yuki Otsu
Starting Members
GK 21 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 3 Hideki Sahara
DF 2 Teriyuki Moniwa
DF 8 Ryuji Fujiyama
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 17 Jo Kanazawa
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
87' 15 Minoru Suganuma (for Yuki Otsu)

89' 37 Masato Yamazaki (for Hideaki Kajima)

Substitutes 52' 40 Tatuya Suzuki (for Naotake Hanyu)

59' 24 Shingo Akamine (for Sota Hirayama)

63' 19 Yohei Otake (for Naohiro Ishikawa)

22' Iwao Yamane

32' Popo

47' Yuki Otsu (PK)

Goals 33' Cabore
73' Yuta Minami Cautions 31' Yuhei Tokunaga

46' Ryuji Fujiyama

71' Hideki Sahara

Ejections

Report

Filling in the report template is already more effort than I wanted to put into the horrendous display put on by FC Tokyo last night in Kashiwa.  Sloppy play, poor passing, reckless fouls, an inability to get the ball into the net despite outshooting the opposition (in this case 21 to 9), you name it.  Even Cabore's goal, with an empty net begging for the ball, was far from guaranteed until the ball finally went in.  The players were outrun and outgunned and showed their frustration; particularly in the case of Hideki Sahara's yellow card after getting tangled up with a Kashiwa player.

It's good to know that the players are frustrated, the supporters are as well.  The fact that Tokyo fans haven't started booing yet is a miracle in my opinion; the catcalls following the postgame bow to the fans were teetering on that edge.  One wonders what it's going to take for the team to play up to its potential.  Should Jofuku start benching his experienced players and call up some of his younger recruits?  Will there be a Mike Singletary-esque moment where Jofuku goes off on his team and the assembled press?  Is the answer as simple as Shiota's return to the posts or as complicated as the entire offensive squad going on a peyote-fueled retreat and finding their power animal?

I don't have the answer to that, but for the sake of the team and its supporters I hope an answer comes sooner rather than later.

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Match Report: J1 Week 3 FC Tokyo vs. Montedio Yamagata

J.League Division 1 Week 3
First Half
0 – 0

Second Half
1- 0

Final
1- 0

March 21st 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 20,179
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 3 Hideki Sahara
DF 2 Teruyuki Moniwa
DF 5 Yuto Nagatomo
MF 6 Tasuyuki Konno
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 1 Kenta Shimizu
DF 14 Takuya Miyamoto
DF 3 Leonard
DF 23 Hidenori Ishii
DF 13 Tatsuya Ishikawa
MF 16 Kim Byung-Suk
MF 19 Masaru Akiba
MF 17 Kentaro Sato
MF 7 Katsuyuki Miyazawa
FW 9 Tatsuya Furuhashi
FW 15 Yu Hasegawa
62' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Naohiro Ishikawa)

69' 32 Yusuke Kondo (for Cabore)

82' 28 Takuji Yonemoto (for Naotake Hanyu)

Substitutes 53' 11 Takuya Miyamoto (for Tomotaka Kitamura)

67' 6 Kouhei Miyazaki (for Kim Byung-Suk)

'82 22 Takuya Sonoda (for Tatsuya Furuhashi)

55' Naotake Hanyu Goals
Cautions '57 Takuya Miyamoto

'87 Kentaro Sato

Ejections

Report

Under a clear blue sky at Ajinomoto Stadium, FC Tokyo tasted victory for the first time this season against a persistent but ultimately outmatched Montedio Yamagata.

Though the final score isn't necessarily indicative of it, Tokyo kept the offensive pressure on Yamagata throughout the game, outshooting the J1 rookies 12-6 and forcing 9 corner kicks to Yamagata's 2.  Though both teams struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, as time elapsed Cabore and Ishikawa combined to produce several close chances that were either knocked away at the last second by Montedio goalkeeper Kenta Shimizu or simply missed the inside of the post by a couple feet.

Though Yamagata threatened at times, the defense anchored by Hideki Sahara finally seemed to do what they could not in the first two matches – keep Gonda mostly out of trouble.  Though they were far from perfect, the few shots that the players in yellow managed to get off were deftly handled by Gonda, including a superb save in the first half where he punched a high shot over the goal.

On offense, the team was certainly bolstered by Ishikawa's return to the starting lineup and the first season appearance of Sota Hirayama.  Ishikawa brought the same level of energy that he contributed to the Urawa game, but the surprise of the match was definitely Hirayama.  Though he failed to score, Sota contributed thoroughly on both offense and defense, helping Tokyo win the air game and creating many chances on goal.

The lone goal of the match came in the second half, when Hanyu took a perfect cross from Cabore and sailed it over Shimizu for the score.  It was a beauty of a goal, reminiscent of Hanyu's effort almost a year ago against Verdy.

While most of the game after that was keeping Montedio from putting together any sort of organized attack, there were a couple notable moments.  After coming on as a substitute, Yusuke Kondo barrelled through about 3 or 4 Montedio defenders before hooking his shot over the goal.  MF Takuji Yonemoto saw his first playing time coming on as a late substitute for Hanyu.  Takuji earned a post-game curtain call by the supporters after he stopped an attack by Yamagata with a superb slide tackle in the closing minutes.

With this victory the monkey is off the team's back; particularly that of Shuichi Gonda who dove onto the grass in celebration when the match official blew his final whistle.  Gonda displayed impressive form in this match; although he'll likely return to the bench within the next month as Shiota completes his rehabilitation, he will surely want to continue to savor the taste of a J.League victory while he can. Though a second goal would have been nice to see (yeah, how often have I said that), a rose by any other name is still worth 3 points, and Hiroshi Jofuku recieved an important win in addition to some birthday cake.

Quotes

“It was a tough game but the entire defense held its ground and managed to minimize our risks.  We've given away a lot of goals in set plays so that's what we concentrated on this week.  Not allowing any goals was a big deal; there was a lot of time on the clock after Hanyus' goal.  My heart was racing until the final whistle.  Moniwa and I were burdened with keeping that lead, so when the game ended that “guts pose” kinda just happened spontaneously.” ~ FC Tokyo goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda

“I think we've definitely moved past [the first two games].  This week we discussed how to position ourselves when the team is on the attack and how to manage counters effectively.  Because of that, Tokyo was able to play the kind of soccer we wanted to play, and our confidence is attached to that.  Before we were offside frequently and rushing to come up with strategy in the middle of the game.  In practice we discussed how we need to keep perservering to get the result we know we're capable of getting, and I'm happy that we were able to do that today.”  ~ FC Tokyo defender Teriyuki Moniwa

Errata

-FC Tokyo players managed to avoid recieving any yellow cards for their first clean slate of the season.

-All other matches played on Saturday ended in draws, allowing Tokyo to catch up significantly in the standings.

-Below the Yamagata supporters stands was a banner reading “Do you remember? '99.11.21.”  This refers to the last week of the inaugural J.League Division 2 season, when Montedio's draw against Oita Trinita allowed FC Tokyo to secure second place in J2 and subsequent promotion to J1.  Oita would eventually earn promotion at the end of the 2002 season, while Yamagata finally earned its spot in the top division last year.

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Aishiteru Liveblogging: FC Tokyo vs. Montedio Yamagata

In the spirit of advancing English-language J.League coverage in the nerdiest way possible, we've kludged together a liveblogging system based on Twitter and using the Lifestream plugin for WordPress (mainly because it allows dokool to post from his cellphone).  In theory we'll be able to provide updates as they happen, and possibly even some photos as well.  So stay tuned to this post!

[lifestream start_date=”20 March 2009″ end_date=”22 March 2009″ feed_types=”twitter”]

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Match Report: J-League Round 2: FC Tokyo @ Urawa Reds

J.League Division 1 Week 2
First Half
1 – 1

Second Half
2 – 0

Final
3 – 1

March 14th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Saitama Stadium 2002 (Saitama, Saitama) Attendance 50,802
GK 23 Ryota Tsuzuki

DF 6 Nobuhisa Yamada

DF 2 Keisuke Tsuboi

DF 4 Marcus Tulio Tanaka

DF 3 Hajime Hosogai

MF 13 Keita Suzuki

MF 22 Yuki Abe

MF 24 Genki Haraguchi

MF 10 Robson Ponte

FW 11 Tatsuya Tanaka

FW 17 Edmilson

Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda

DF 5 Yuto Nagatomo

DF 15 Daishi Hiramatsu

DF 2 Teruyuki Moniwa

DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga

MF 6 Yasuyuki Konno

MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama

MF 22 Naotake Hanyu

MF 40 Tatsuya Suzuki

FW 9 Cabore

FW 32 Yusuke Kondo

57′ 19 Naohiro Takahara (for Genki Haraguchi)

78′ 34 Naoki Yamada (for Tatsuya Tanaka)
86′ 20 Satoshi Horinouchi (for Edmilson)

Substitutes 58′ 19 Yohei Otake (for Tatsuya Suzuk)

60′ 24 Shingo Akamine (for Yusuke Kondo)

66′ 18 Naohiro Ishikawa (for Naotake Hanyu)

4′ Yuki Abe

50′ Edmilson

83′ Robson Ponte

Goals 13′ Own Goal (initially credited to Cabore)
63′ Nobuhisa Yamada Cautions
Ejections

Report

On an overcast, rainy day, roughly 2,000+ visiting supporters travelled to see FC Tokyo take on Urawa Reds and their home army of almost 60,000 at a sold-out Saitama Stadium 2002.  Shuichi Gonda would once again settle b etween the posts for Tokyo, and Jofuku elected to make a couple changes in order to tweak the lineup from last week’s Niigata debacle: Tatsuya Suzuki got a start at midfielder, and Cabore teamed up with Yusuke Kondo on the front line.

The first goal of the match, ominously, was a quick strike from Urawa midfielder Yuki Abe on – you guessed it – a corner kick.  FC Tokyo would fight back, however, and 7 minutes later Tokunaga set up a perfect pass to Cabore who drove the ball in, though it would deflect off a Reds defender and be declared an Own Goal.  Much like Nagatomo’s game-winner last year against Verdy, there was no doubt as to whose effort was responsible for the point.

The teams battled back and forth for the rest of the half, with Tokyo at times threatening and many times scrambling to deflect Urawa’s attack.  Near the end of the first half, a chilling moment silenced the stadium as FCT defender Teruyuki Moniwa and Urawa defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka collided as they both challenged for a header, each player receiving a nasty cut for their troubles.  4 minutes of stoppage time were added as a result of this incident, and while Urawa briefly challenged Tokyo held strong to end the half at 1-1.

In the second half, Urawa managed to strike quickly when Yusuke Kondo went down in contact and FCT players hesitated, expecting Urawa to kick the ball to the sideline.  Instead the referee waved the play on, and the defenders got caught off-guard as Ponte whipped an unstoppable cross to Edmilson to give Urawa the advantage.

Having learned from the defensive-minded substitutions he made last week, Jofuku attempted to stemp the tide by reinforcing on offense, sending in Otake, Akamine, and Ishikawa onto the field to replace Suzuki, Kondo, and Hanyu.  Nao would have one of the best chances for Tokyo, a long bullet from the edge of the box that clanged against the top post.

As the game reached its end and with the FCT defense in disarray, Ponte used a defender as a screen to slip an insurance goal past Gonda for the 3-1 final.

Analysis

After two goals to begin the game, the first half was a constant struggle between stemming back the Red Tide and trying to establish an offensive rhythm.  Somehow or another Tokyo always managed to get the ball away from the attackers at the last second, but rarely seemed to think ahead in terms of establishing its own beachhead and advancing forward.  Again and again, Tokyo’s attack revered to a series of short passes that would have been clever if they hadn’t picked off half the time.  Halfhearted clears resulted in Urawa regaining position and pressing the attack again, halfhearted attacks never seemed to fully form, and the team only had a depressing 7 shots on goal the entire game according to the official statistics (even when compared to Urawa’s 9, I assure you that I’d take 9 Urawa chances against 20 of the sort that Tokyo had all day).

With Kajiyama and Konno playing at defensive midfielder, the back line of Tokunaga, Nagatomo, Moniwa, and Hiramatsu theoretically had enough strength to keep a solid line of defense, but they constantly allowed Urawa players to get into close range.  I saw Sahara once or twice on the sideline, seemingly chomping at the bit to get into the game.  One can only wonder what kind of effect he could have made.

On offense the team is plainly neutered for reasons I can’t even begin to consider; I spent much of the game having flashbacks to 2007 and our dreadful strategy of passing down the sideline, crossing it into the goal area, and seeing what happens.  Ishikawa was by far the biggest substitute contributor with his attacks down the right side, and the game might have taken a totally different form had his shot not bounced off the crossbar.  Akamine was useless as many of the team’s crosses were picked off by Urawa defenders, and Otake physically struggled against a physically larger Urawa team.

The most disconcerting part of the game was that as the minutes ticked down in the second half, the players visibly seemed to lose their fighting spirit, which is part of what allowed the 3rd goal.  They were outclassed and outplayed by an Urawa side that, while strong, certainly had weaknesses of its own.  And yet on this cold March afternoon, the Gasmen seemed unable – or worse, unwilling – to fight on.

Tokyo’s next game is on March 21st against Montedio Yamagata, a team that has been the surprise of J.League between its dismantling of Jubilo Iwata in Week 1 and a surprising draw against league frontrunners Nagoya Grampus that was played on a snowy field.  Teams that had taken newcomers Montedio for granted are beginning to wonder if they had judged too soon, while those who predicted Tokyo’s success are left wondering just what the hell is going on.  A win next week will be crucial toward establishing some sort of rhythm for the team; any kinks can be worked out in the interval as FCT has Nabisco Cup matches on the 25th and 29th of the month before returning to J1 play against Jubilo Iwata on the 4th.  No matter what happens, this is a team in dire need of a quick recovery before dreams of an ACL bid are quickly lost.

Errata

As my ticket was for the visitor’s section, I had the opportunity to see Tokyo supporters crammed into one small area of the concourse, walled off with fencing and blocked by guards.  While Urawa’s fanbase is certainly large and that should be respected, conditions for the visiting fans were lackluster to say the least; a couple tables selling food (with long lines to boot) and one bathroom per gender.  That the rain forced many to wait in the concourse before the game started didn’t help matters either.  At a world-class facility like Saitama Stadium, the Reds organization should be ashamed that this is the best level of service they deem fit to provide to their guests.