Category Archives: F.C. Tokyo Reports

Aishiteru Tokyo and On the Gas present Gas Talk Episode 2!

Met up with Ben yesterday evening at our usual izakaya to record the second episode of Gas Talk! Despite Graham's absence and unusually loud music over the house PA system, we managed to bring you another (hopefully) enjoyable episode of commentary. Here's a rundown of what you'll hear:

Part 1: a review of the team's preseason activities including reactions from Sunday's PSM at Thespa Kusatsu. Also an injury report roundup.

Part 2: this one's mostly me because Ben was admittedly unfamiliar with it, but I talk about Yuto Nagatomo's full transfer for 160 million yen and what it means for FC Tokyo and Japanese soccer as a whole. We also talk a bit about Jade North, the Australian NT player who's been participating in team practice since last week.

Part 3: a preview of this Saturday's match against Sagan Tosu. Highly suggested that you check our respective blogs on Thursday/Friday for the latest updates and a more accurate picture of what the starting eleven will be.

Apparently there are a couple technical issues w/ the audio but hopefully they won't get in the way of your listening experience. I've also been told that you can now subscribe to Gas Talk through the iTunes store, even though the podcast details are a little wonky (apparently Ben wants all the credit 😉 And we aren't doing the podcast in Japanese, at least not yet!).

Stay tuned for our next episode after the Tosu game!

zp8497586rq

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
essay services

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.

zp8497586rq
zp8497586rq

Crisis in Tokyo 2: Transfers and Uncertainty

I haven't had time to write up proper reports for the last couple matches; anyone who's followed on J's Goal probably knows what's happened.  For those who don't, here are the last three scores:

8/16 FC Tokyo 0 – 0 Yokohama FM

8/19 Montedio Yamagata 1 – 0 FC Tokyo

8/23 Kashima Antlers 3 – 1 FC Tokyo

No, I'm not even going to bother explaining these scores yet.  It's been a trying summer, to say the least, but given that most of J.League seems to be suffering we are, inexplicably, still not out of the ACL race.  Plus there's the upcoming Nabisco Cup Semifinal next week.  Hopefully Oita will provide us with an opponent we can beat up, but a lot of that is certain to ride on whether or not Ishikawa makes it back to the lineup.

In other news, Tokyo is making some late-season player moves:

Veteran Jo Kanazawa is heading to Jubilo Iwata with a complete transfer.  Jo has only appeared as a substitute in a few games this season and started once or twice.  Kanazawa started his J.League career with Jubilo where he was a part of their 'dynasty' period from 1999 through 2002.

Rookie Kazunori Yoshimoto is off to FC Gifu on a 6-month loan.  He's appeared a couple times for Tokyo over the last 3 years but hopefully this loan will give him a chance to get more playing time and improve his skills.

In news that could have an impact into next season, longtime shirt sponsor ENOS has decided to withdraw sponsorship after this season ends.  ENOS, which has long been considered the 'face of Tokyo' since it took over the front sponsorship from the AM/PM chain of convenience stores, paid 300,000,000 yen (roughly $3 million) for the privilege.

zp8497586rq

Jubilo Iwata pursuing Akamine

Several newspapers are reporting that Jubilo Iwata has made an offer to FC Tokyo forward Shingo Akamine.

Jubilo recently lost its star forward, South Korean national Lee Keun-Ho, when he was acquired by French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.  While Akamine scored a team-leading 18 goals for FC Tokyo last season, he has played a reduced role so far this year as Hirayama's form has improved.

In an earlier game this season, Akamine scored the lone goal of a rain-soaked match to lead Tokyo to a 1-0 victory against Iwata.

zp8497586rq

Match Report: Nabisco Cup Group B Round 4: Kyoto Sanga vs. FC Tokyo

Nabisco Cup Group B Round 4: Kyoto Sanga vs. FC Tokyo
First Half
0 – 1Second Half
1 – 0

Final
1 – 1

May 30th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium (Ukyo, Kyoto) Attendance 7,508
GK 21 Yuichi Mizutani
DF 24 Tatsuya Masushima
DF 4 Hiroki Mizumoto
DF 5 Kazuki Teshima
DF 22 Daigo Watanabe
MF 18 Koken Kato
MF 16 Jun Ando
MF 3 Sidiclei
MF 10 Diego
FW 20 Paulinho
FW 9 Yohei Toyoda
Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 33 Kenta Mukuhara
DF 3 Hideki Sahara
DF 15 Daishi Hiramatsu
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 27 Sotan Tanabe
FW 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
27′ 17 Taisuke Nakamura (for Koken Kato)
64′ 13 Atsushi Yanagisawa (for Kazuki Teshima)
80′ 23 Atsutaka Nakamura (for Paulinho)
Substitutes 64′ 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Cabore)
65′ 24 Shingo Akamine (for Sotan Tanabe)
71′ 19 Yohei Otake (for Naohiro Ishikawa)
69′ Atsushi Yanagisawa Goals 12′ Naohiro Ishikawa
60′ Diego Cautions 38′ Sota Hirayama
52′ Yohei Kajiyama
  Ejections  

Report

Neither of us saw this match, box score should say it all.

Match Report: J1 Round 11: FC Tokyo vs. Kyoto Sanga

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

Second Half
0 – 0

Final
0 – 0

May 9th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 18,221
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno
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 24 Shingo Akamine
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 21 Yuichi Mizutani
DF 24 Tatsuya Masushima
DF 4 Hiroki Mizumoto
DF 14 Lee Jung-Soo
DF 26 Makoto Kakuda
MF 22 Daigo Watanabe
MF 7 Yuto Sato
MF 16 Jun Ando
MF 11 Takenori Hayashi
FW 20 Paulinho
FW 10 Diego
59' 19 Yohei Otake (for Naotake Hanyu)
67' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Shingo Akamine)
74' 32 Yusuke Kondo (for Naohiro Ishikawa)
Substitutes 62' 8 Yusuke Nakatani (for Takenori Hayashi)
74' 28 Kim Seng-Yong (for Paulinho)
86' 18 Koken Kato (for Diego)
Goals
51' Shingo Akamine
62' Takuji Yonemoto
89' Yusuke Kondo
Cautions
Ejections

Report
Neither of us managed to see the game, Matsu's Rising Sun capsule is here.

zp8497586rq

Match Report: J-League Round 1: FC Tokyo vs. Albirex Niigata

J.League Division 1 Week #
FC Tokyo First Half
0 – 1

Second Half
1 – 3

Final
1 – 4

Albirex Niigata
March 7th 2009, 1PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 27,568
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda

DF 5 Yuto Nagamoto

DF 15 Daishi Hiramatsu

DF 2 Teruyuki Moniwa

DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga

MF 6 Yasuyuki Konno

MF 17 Jo Kanazawa

MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama

MF 22 Naotake Hanyu

FW 24 Shingo Akamine

FW 32 Yusuke Kondo

Starting Members
GK 1 Takashi Kitano

DF 17 Jun Ichida

DF 5 Mitsuru Chiyotanda

DF 6 Mitsuru Nagata

DF 29 Gilton Ribeiro

MF 15 Isao Homma

MF 10 Marcio Richardes

MF 7 Toshihiro Matsushita

FW 11 Kisho Yano

FW 16 Hideo Oshima

FW 9 Pedro Junior

62′ #40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Jo Kanazawa)

64′ #4 Bruno (for Naotake Hanyu)

64′ #9 Cabore (for Yusuke Kondo)

Substitutes 81′ #20 Young Cheol Cho (for Hideo Oshima)

87′ Kazuhiko Chiba (for Toshihiro Matsushita)
89′ Gotoku Sakai (for Marcio Richardes)

51′ Yusuke Kondo Goals 44′ Gilton Ribeiro

53′ Pedro Junior

68′ Hideo Oshima

72′ Pedro Junior

69′ Yohei Kajiyama

87′ Yasuyuki Konno

Cautions 78′ Isao Homma
Ejections

Report

Jesus Christ on a cracker.

Following a 6th place finish in the 2008 season, with which FC Tokyo seemed to imply that its days of being a chronic underachiever may have finally come to an end, the team managed to squander the goodwill of the supporters in 90 minutes of frustrating and at times atrocious play in front of a surprisingly underwhelming crowd of just under 28,000.

After some pomp and circumstance (Nobuo Kawaguchi’s ‘retirement fairwell’ to the crowd and the first in-stadium performance of Tokyo Dorompa, who, to be fair, can bust quite a move), the game started on a somewhat awkward note with neither team unable to find any sort of rhythm for the first 15-20 minutes of play.  Following that, however, it was almost all FC Tokyo as they continuously pressed the attack, setting up consecutive chances in front of the Niigata goal but never managing to succeed.  Even more impressive is that Tokyo was able to keep up that pressure with 10 men, as newcomer Daishi Hiramatsu lived up to his reputation for complete disregard for personal safety and spent a couple agonizing minutes on the sideline receiving treatment for a cut to his forehead.  On the rare occasions that the ball found its way back into the Tokyo penalty area, rookie goalkeeper Gonda proved his technical skills with some booming kicks that left the crowd speechless.

Everything seemed on-course for a 0-0 draw to end the first half, until Albirex was awarded corner kick late in extra time.  Anyone who follows the team knows that defending against corner kicks has always been a perpetual weakness, and this corner was no exception.  A perfect cross connected to Gilton Ribiero, who sailed it in on the left post just past Gonda’s outstreched fingers.  The whistle sounded for the half and many FCT players visibly expressed their frustration at this lapse.

Early on in the second half, things seemed like they could possibly turn around as Yusuke Kondo scored a beauty of a goal from beyond the penalty box, evening the game at 1 all.  Yet 2 minutes later, another corner kick would lead to another goal for Albirex.

While FCT was clearly the dominant team in the first half, the second half saw an unorganized mess of a squad trying to keep pace with an Albirex team that has apparently improved significantly since their last encounter in late 2008.  The third Albirex goal came as a horrid back pass from Hiramatsu ended up in control of new Albirex transfer Hideo Oshima, who made easy pickings of Gonda for the score.  The last nail in the coffin came a few minutes later as Albirex swarmed Gonda, who was unable to stop Pedro Junior’s effort by himself.  Though FCT made some valiant efforts in the last 20 minutes, Albirex were unable to capitalize on at least two opportunities that could have meant a 1-6 finish.

There is a lot of blame to go around for today’s loss; the only player who probably deserves it the least is Gonda, who performed about as well as one could expect for a second-stringer with no experience on the field.  Hiramatsu was reckless and stupid and it cost the team dearly.  Akamine failed to convert one of any number of opportunities in the Albirex box.  Kajiyama was careless in his passing, resulting in several turnovers.  Players all over were losing the air battle with the regularity of a Swiss watch.  The defense was unable to hold together without Sahara, who may still be out for the Urawa match.  The list goes on.

Yet the person who burdens the most responsibility could be manager Hiroshi Jofuku as a result of his questionable lineup and even more questionable substitutions.  Especially puzzling were his decisions to start Jo Kanazawa at midfield (when Otake would probably have been a much better choice), to not start Cabore, and to bring in Bruno to replace Hanyu at a time when the team needed more offense, not more defense.  Another fact that’s become blindingly apparent is that the team is hurting from that empty 3rd foreign player slot and should start taking resumes for defenders w/ tall vertical reaches as soon as possible.

While the supporters behind the goal didn’t boo following the loss, that’s probably more out of respect to Jofuku’s 2008 performance and out of deference to Gonda, who needs all the encouragement he can get before facing Urawa in a week.  Should the team recieve a similar result in Saitama Stadium, the boos that were part and parcel of an FC Tokyo game 2 years ago may come back into favor sooner rather than later.

Quotes

It’s very difficult to win in J.League when you give up two goals off of corner kicks in a game.  We absolutely have to reflect on the fact that we’re repeating such mistakes.

The 3rd and 4th goals we surrendered were due to the mistakes of individual players, and any team that allows those sorts of mistakes to continue has no right to say that they’re in contention for the J.League title.

We can and must learn from Albirex’s strength in front of the goal.

~Hiroshi Jofuku, excerpts from postgame press conference

Errata

I had the pleasure of meeting a few of Aishiteru Tokyo’s readers following the game and I’m pretty sure they’ll all be chipping in their opinions of today’s debacle in the comments section.  In addition, when I mentioned my blog to a woman I was sitting next to before the game, she told me that her husband had actually seen my site.  So, apparently we’re spreading in popularity, slowly but surely!  Once we finish expanding the site and getting content and media organized, work can begin on my next Big Idea: an International Supporter Group in the vein of the small but dedicated groups of foreigners supporting teams such as Shimizu and Yokohama.  I have a neat idea that involves taking over a section (or agreeing to meet at a certain area of the concourse) and offering English conversational practice in return for donations towards material for flags and banners.

Also, Urawa lost and Jubilo got embarassed by Montedio fuckin’ Yamagata.  So the day wasn’t a total loss.

Meet The Players 2009: Complete!

With the uploading of goalkeepers, 2009's player preview is complete!  I've moved all of the entries over to pages for the sake of trying to organize our content, but you can access them here:

Meet the Players 2009 – Goalkeepers

Meet the Players 2009 – Defenders

Meet the Players 2009 – Midfielders

Meet the Players 2009 – Forwards

In site news if you're visiting this site the old-fashioned way instead of reading the RSS feed you may notice that we've updated our layout!  Free from the tyranny of two columns, Aishiteru Tokyo can now present info on *both* sides of the main article!  Truly this is only the beginning of a revolution.  Some stuff isn't quite the way I want it to be (you'll notice the lack of a 'Home' button anywhere for some strange reason.  I'm hoping to fix up navigation and get content a bit more organized, so stay tuned!

Tomorrow, our first Match Preview of 2009!

zp8497586rq

FCT Season Predictions

First off, I’ve written my 2009 prediction for FCT, which has been posted at JapaneseSoccer.net.  I won’t re-post it here yet (because then you’d have no reason to go there), but to sum things up:

  • FCT has made fine tune-ups instead of huge changes.  This is good.
  • FCT now has a mascot, which means it will get more money, which means it can afford to run a better team.
  • If Nakamura and Hirayama, former youth NT teammates, can work together as well as Cabore and Akamine, our offensive capabilities will be unparalleled.
  • Defense largely rests on a healthy Bruno, Hiramatsu’s leadership, and a fast resolution to the GK issue (namely how quickly Shiota can return in form and/or whether or not Kenta can pick up the slack).
  • I predict a top 3 finish and an ACL Berth.

Anyway, to read all of that in paragraph form and to see preseason predictions for other J-League teams, you should head over to JapaneseSoccer.Net.

In another English-language prediction, Rising Sun chief Matsu has forecasted that FCT will remain in the 5th-7th place range in his yearly J1 forecast.  While I’m certainly being optimistic in my predictions, I believe he’s being pessimistic in his, so I’m willing to take his view as a good omen.

Finally, my season ticket bundle arrives today!   2 weeks till opening day at Ajinomoto Stadium!

城服東京、楽しい東京、俺とお前は夢の中!

Man, I really have to do better at this regular blogging thing, but that’s what happens in JLPT season.

In any case, the regular season is over.  In line with predictions I made early on in the season on the RSN forums, FC Tokyo did make the top 6 – in fact, the team ended in 6th place, when it could have reached as high as 4th were it not for a tragic fall-from-ahead loss at Chiba to end the season.  JEF Chiba’s shock win saved the team from relegation, meaning that we’ve been the dramatic foil for relegation-threatened teams for two years in a row now.  Which, I’ll be honest, is kinda amusing in a “if I didn’t laugh I’d be crying” way.  Hell, I’m from Philadelphia, who knows more about abject futility than us?

A week earlier, the final home game of the year was held at Ajinomoto Stadium; a match against Albirex Niigata that ended with an exhilerating goal as time was running out.  In stark contrast to 2007’s home finale, which resembled the atmosphere of a funeral, this year’s home finale had a palpable sense of celebration attached.  Manager Hiroshi Jofuku has gotten FCT to play almost at its full potential, and with the nucleus of the team largely expected to return next season, the eyes of the J.League world will undoubtedly be on Ajinomoto Stadium.  Though the team has some weaknesses it needs to overcome, nobody can dispute that FC Tokyo will be a contender for the championship in 2009.

What needs to change? That depends on what aspects of the squad you choose to look at.  By virtue of its solid youth program, FCT doesn’t need transfers as desperately as other teams in the league, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t needed.  The most perplexing issue is at forward – should Cabore have another foreign strongman – either South American or European – to give him some relief and help the team in the opposing goal area, where they seem to get caught up frequently?  Akamine, despite taking half as many shots as Cabore, was FCT’s leading goal-scorer of the year and one of the top 2 or 3 Japanese goal-scorers this season.  The odd man out seems to be Sota Hirayama, who showed flashes of brilliance this season but has yet to show enough consistency to earn a regular starting role.

One lineup change that will be affecting all squads is the addition of a forth foreign player slot – while teams were previously limited to having 3 foreign players on their roster, the fourth has to come from an ACL country.  Most teams will probably go to Korea, which has sent its fair share of players to Japan, or to Australia, which seems to have one of the best performances aside from Japanese teams in the ACL.

In any case, the season is not over yet – this Saturday (the 20th) FCT plays Shimizu S-Pulse for the billionth (actually 5th) time this year up in Sendai in an Emperors Cup quarterfinal match.  The team hasn’t had very good luck against Shimizu (0-1-3 this year), but with the fourth and final ACL bid still up for grabs, one would be foolish to take anything for granted.  Amazing J indeed.

In player news, Yuto Nagatomo has been nominated as both Outstanding Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year by J.League, honors well-deserved.  Here’s hoping he takes some silverware home!

In other site news, I’ve been asked by Gora over at JapaneseSoccer.net, an English-language J.League news blog that’s now in beta, to write a special piece about the deteriorating situation at Tokyo Verdy.  For those of you who haven’t been following, Verdy has not only been demoted to J2 but their supporters are now declaring open rebellion on the board of directors.  This includes urging a season ticket boycott, an act virtually unheard of in Japan.  Part 1 of my essay is up now, with parts 2 and 3 to follow.  I assume by the time anyone reads this Gora will have the formatting fixed, so stay tuned.