Category Archives: J.League Division 2 2011

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!

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The 2011 Preseason: 8 Things We’ve Learned

With less than a week to go until the March 5th kickoff at Ajinomoto stadium, let’s review what we’ve learned in the offseason.

 

1. Injuries Still Happen

Gonda’s pinkie separation will have him out for at least 3 weeks, while several other teammates (including Ishikawa, Nakamura, Pedro Junior, Kajiyama, and others) have been suffering from the niggling types of injuries that, while they might not show up in an official injury report, can keep them mysteriously out of practice or even worse the gameday lineup. Ishikawa is still struggling and hasn’t played in any training matches yet, but hopefully his fitness will return for the regular season. With the size and depth of Tokyo’s roster, we’d all like to hope that an injury or three won’t hurt the squad too much in terms of firepower… then again we need some firepower to begin with (see below).

2. The Boys of Summer

Although Tokyo didn’t call up any U-18 members to the top squad, look for a couple of the “new generation” to start making waves. Takumi Abe has gained favor with Hiyoshi Okuma and is an inside favorite to start at left back on Saturday, while Otake will probably get in more playing time as well. Hideto Takahashi could also get into the mix when Konno is off wearing the blue kit.

3. The Boys of Subbing

Just as important as our starting 11 are our reserves; unless we learn how to score early and often (see below) Tokyo may again need to mount late-stage offensive (or comebacks, as the case often was last year). Tatsuya Suzuki is, for better or for worse, always in the mix, but Tatsuya Yazawa and Uesato are also strong contenders to make regular appearances. Takamatsu I’m hesitant to pass judgment on because it appears as though even Okuma isn’t 100% sure who his starting forwards will be.

4. The Boys of Samba

For the first time in several years, FC Tokyo could have three Brazilians on the field. Cesar has impressed in the preseason with several goals and assists and has generally performed like the player we all hoped Ricardinho would be last year… I would even put him up there as a candidate for our top scorer. Roberto has been solid at volante and could earn a regular starting spot between Kajiyama’s repeated injuries and Yonemoto’s form trouble. Pedro Junior hasn’t turned quite as many heads this offseason but he should still do better than Matsushita.

5. We Got 99 Problems and Offensive Production Might Be 1

While the defense has more or less performed solidly, the same patterns that plagued Tokyo on offense – namely, an inability to score early – have once again emerged. Players are performing well individually, but the winning combination has yet to be unlocked. As an example, although the 6-2 win against Shimizu S-Pulse may sound impressive, in reality Tokyo was losing 1-2 until Shimizu put their reserves in.  One may ask what it all means, and the answer is that it’s the preseason, so precisely in that realm between jack and shit… for now. Looking at our opponents (Tosu, Gifu, Toyama, Tochigi), if our goal difference isn’t +6-7 or better by the end of March I would perhaps consider ringing that particular alarm bell.

6. Toto, I Don’t Think We’re In J1 Anymore

Yesterday’s PSM against Thespa Kusatsu at Soy Sauce Stadium came with an extra dose of MSG-induced heartburn for our traveling supporters. An out-of-the-way stadium with 10,000 seats and a track, relatively few supporters, poor pitch condition, mediocre officiating… in many ways, this was as accurate a simulation of J2 as one could have imagined. No more pristine pitches or packed stands for a while… at least maybe until the Tokyo Derby.

7. Our Front Office Is Smarter Than Your Front Office…

With last week’s announcement that Yuto Nagatomo has officially been sold to Cesena (who are on track to sell him to Inter, although apparently he’s having a bit of a struggle in dealing with their asshole supporters and players in his current loan spell), FC Tokyo managed to pull off what no team in J.League has in the last couple years: get a decent chunk of money for an international transfer. While Kagawa got shipped off to Dortmund for a bag of magic beans and a song, and Okazaki’s controversy-plagued transfer to Stuttgart was more or less free, Cesena has paid Tokyo roughly 200 million yen (nearly $2.5 million, or 1.8 million euros, or 3.4 billion Lira. Thanks Google!) for the star left back. Now, Cesena’s going to make a whole lot more if and when they eventually sell Nagatomo to a bigger club so it’s not a total victory, but it’s still a lot better than anyone else did.

8. …Except When They’re Not

While there were reports that Nagatomo’s transfer money would be used to renovate the team’s locker room and training facilities, there’s word that one more player acquisition could be on the horizon as Australian back Jade North has been participating in team practices since the other day. With the max number of A-contracts already signed to the team one wonders how Mr. North, described by some sources as solid but unimpressive, could be shoehorned onto the team… notwithstanding the fact that his signing isn’t really necessary to begin with. Memo to the front office: Just because the money’s blowing a hole in your pocket doesn’t mean you have to spend it all immediately. Perhaps you could put it in a savings account with that new bank sponsor you got, invest in some band-aids for Kajiyama’s vagina.

Speaking of money, the new SOCIO cards come with built-in EDY electronic payment chips, and according to the explanations the team actually gets some cash back every time you use them to make a purchase. I wonder how much money the team could save by paying their players w/ EDY…

 

Anyway, stay tuned for more as we ramp up coverage for the soon-to-start J2 season! I’m joining Ben and Graham from On The Gas to record the second episode of Gas Talk this evening, and hopefully it’ll be up tomorrow. お楽しみに!

FCT 2011 Match Schedule released, training camp relocated

First, what we've all been waiting for, the schedule!

2011/3/5 – vs Sagan Tosu (Ajinomoto Stadium)
2011/3/12 – at Fagiano Okaya,a (kanko Stadium)
2011/3/19 – at Gifu (Gifu Memorial Center Stadium)
2011/3/27 – vs Tochigi SC (Ajinomoto)
2011/4/03 – vs Giravantz Kitakyuushuu (Ajinomoto)
2011/4/09 – at Yokohama FC (Mitzusawa)
2011/4/17 – vs Oita Trinita (Ajinomoto)
2011/4/24 – at JEF Chiba Ichihara United (Fukuda Denshi Arena)
2011/4/30 – vs Consadole Sapporo (Ajinomoto)
2011/5/4 – at Verdy (Ajinomoto – AWAY)
2011/5/8 – vs Kataller Toyama (Ajinomoto)
2011/5/14 – at Thespa Kusatsu (Shikishima)
2011/5/22 – vs Shonan Bellmare (Ajinomoto)
2011/5/28 – at Kyoto Sanga (Nishigoku)
2011/6/5 – vs Ehime FC (Komazawa Stadium)
2011/6/12 – at Roasso Kumamoto (KKWING)
2011/6/19 – vs Tokushima Vortis (Ajinomoto)
2011/6/25 – at Mito Hollyhock (K's Denshi)
2011/7/2 – vs Gainare Tottori (Ajinomoto)
2011/7/9 – at Oita Trinita (Oita Bank Dome)
2011/7/17 – vs FC Gifu (Ajinomoto)
2011/7/24 – vs Roasso Kumamoto (Kokuritsu)
2011/7/30 – at Giravantz Kitakyuushuu (Kitakyuushuu)
2011/8/13 – vs Thespa Kusatsu (Ajinomoto Stadium)
2011/8/21 – at Tochigi SC (Tochigi Green Stadium)
2011/8/28 – at Kataller Toyama (Toyama Prefectural Stadium)
2011/9/10 – vs Kyoto Sanga (Ajinomoto)
2011/9/17 – at Ehime FC (Ninjineer)
2011/9/25 – vs Yokohama FC (Kokuritsu)
2011/10/2 – at Tokushima Vortis (Pocari Sweat Stadium)
2011/10/16 – vs Fagiano Okayama (Ajinomoto)
2011/10/23 – at Sagan Tosu (Best Amenity Stadium)
2011/10/30 – vs Verdy (Ajinomoto Stadium) [note: depending on AFC Champion's League could be moved to 10/29]
2011/11/6 – at Shonan Bellmare (Hiratsuka)
2011/11/12 – vs Mito Hollyhock (Ajinomoto)
2011/11/19 – at Gainare Tottori (Bird Stadium)
2011/11/26 – vs JEF Chiba (Ajinomoto)

2011/12/3 – at Consadole Sapporo (Sapporo Dome)

Some thoughts…

-That's a lotta games. 19 will be on Sundays, 18 on Saturdays, and the first Tokyo Derbyw will be on a Wednesday (a national holiday – みどりの日. How droll.)

-Fuck you, J.League, for putting almost *all* of the away trips I was looking forward to at the VERY END OF THE SEASON. Tottiri in late November? Sapporo to end the year? And Tosu is even on Sunday! Goddammitsomuch. But at least we get Mitsuzawa for Yokohama FC, and Tochigi will make a great summer trip.

-As long as Tokyo's away support stays up in the Kanto region, there should be a period of absolute dominance by Tokyo supporters between late March and late May. 10 matches in a row (including Kusatsu which is admittedly a bit of a hike even compared to Chiba or Shonan) that Tokyo supporters can reach easily by train.

-The J.League scheduling gods are known for stacking end-of-season matches that amplify title chases. Are these last two matches a sign from above that Chiba and Sapporo are fellow contenders for promotion?

-For Tokyo to secure promotion at the second Tokyo Derby, they would have to be at least 18 points clear of 4th place after the day's matches were complete. This is far from impossible; last season Kashiwa Reysol ended Round 32 18 points up on 4th-place Chiba, who had 6 games remaining compared to Kashiwa's 5.

In other news, the team held their opening press conference the other day and revealed a new slogan that is full of fail, so much so that I'm not going to bother discussing it. The team also announced yesterday that due to the volcanic happenings in Miyazaki prefecture, February's training camp is being relocated to Kumamoto.

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Your 2011 FC Tokyo Squad

Detailed introduction in future posts, for now here's names and numbers:

Manager: Kiyoshi Okuma

1 GK Hitoshi Shiota
2 DF Ryuhei Tokunaga
3 DF Masato Morishige
4 DF Hideto Takahashi
6 MF Yasayuki Konno
7 MF Takuji Yonemoto
9 FW Roberto Cesar
10 MF Yohei Kajiyama
11 FW Tatsuya Suzuki
13 FW Sota Hirayama
14 MF Hokuto Nakamura
15 DF Daishi Hiramatsu
16 MF Roberto
17 FW Pedro Junior
18 MF Naohiro Ishikawa
19 MF Yohei Otake
20 GK Shuichi Gonda
21 GK Ryotaro Hironaga
22 MF Naotake Hanyu
26 DF Takumi Abe
27 MF Soutan Tanabe
29 DF Kazunori Yoshimoto
30 FW Taiki Takamatsu
31 GK Satoshi Tokizawa
32 MF Kazumasa Uesato
33 DF Kenta Mukuhara
34 DF Tomokazu Nagira
39 FW Tatsuya Yazawa

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The One Year Hangover

Man, what did I drink last night… oh, hello, blog!

Hey Dan. It's been a long time!

Yeah, it has, hasn't it? But it's good to be back! I had the strangest dreams… four horsemen, angels pouring out stuff from bowls, trumpets, and somewhere I've never heard of called Tottori.

Oh. Really. *cough*

Well, apparently I needed the downtime, because I guess I've been asleep for about 4 months now. And it's January! Almost time for another J1 season.

Um, about that…

I see the schedule's been released… another home opener to start the year! And it's against… Sagan Tosu?

Listen, I hate to be the one to tell you, but–

Did they get promoted? I knew Kofu and Kashiwa had it locked up… well, good for them at any rate!

No, it's not…

And week two is away at…

Will you pay attention for one seco–

…Fagiano Okayama.

…yeah.

Seriously?

…I tried to tell you…

Seriously.

…honestly, you're better off having slept through it.

That bad?

Yep.

So dumping Jofuku for Okuma didn't really do much, did it?

Well, Okuma did okay, but it wasn't him on the pitch, was it.

I suppose not. So we never recovered, did we.

Oh, we came close.

How close?

Last week of the season.

Son of a bitch. So we still could have… how bad was it?

Pretty bad.

Well, fuck.

Yep, pretty much how we felt at the time.

So that's it, huh? A year in J2?

Hopefully.

No TV broadcasts, less media coverage, minuscule away support, away games in the countryside where the trains don't run, no Nabisco Cup, and all the big teams are in J1 fighting for the title?

Well, yeah, but look at the plus side.

What plus side?

I mean, what other reason is there to go to Toyama? Or Kitakyushu? Or Tokushima? You've always wanted to see Japan, here's your chance! All those stadiums with great local food, great views, and teams you've always heard about but never saw play!

Well, that's certainly a plus.

And while J1 gets a month off, J2 just keeps on going! Plenty of soccer to get you through the year, and every game matters!

Good point.

And best of all… we get a Tokyo Derby again!

Okay, I'm convinced that maybe this won't suck as much. But isn't it going to suck not having any of our star players? Konno, Yonemoto, Ishikawa and the rest have all been sold off to J1 teams, right?

Actually, they've all stayed on.

You're shitting me.

Nope, most of Tokyo's starters are still on the books.

But we're in J2 now! How do we have the money?

Well, Murabayashi resigned, but before then he promised that we'd be back in J1 in a year, so the personnel budget was untouched. Oguro, Ricardinho, Maeda, and that Korean dude who never played are all going back to their former teams. And we did get rid of a few players…

Like who?

Shingo Akamine will be staying with Vegalta Sendai, and they're also borrowing Matsushita for a year. Kim Yong-gun got picked up by Omiya, but we did make a decent amount of money from that. Shigematsu is going on loan to Fukuoka for a year…Ryo Hiraide will spend a year in Toyama… Abe is gonna defend the posts for Shonan… Other than Kim and maybe Shigematsu, nobody we'd really miss.

So, did we manage to sign anyone?

Oh yeah, lots of players. Three Brazilians! Roberto, Roberto, and Pedro Jr.

How did we get three? We only had one last year, and we were dark horse favorites for an ACL slot!

Better late then never.

By the way you repeated yourself, you said Roberto twice.

Oh, no, there's two of them. One's 25 and a forward, the other's 31 and a volante.

Well, that's promising. Did we pick up anyone else?

Oh yeah. Midfielder Kazumasa Uesato from Sapporo on a loan… Taiki Takamatsu from Oita too. He's a good striker, will probably back up Hirayama. As far as full pickups, Tatsuya Yazawa at midfield, Tomokazu Nagira from Fukuoka on defense, and Satoshi Tokizawa from Kusatsu for a 3rd goalkeeper.

All in all, sounds like a pretty solid set of acquisitions. A year too late, perhaps…

…well, if wishes were horses Urawa would be in the Saitama Prefectural League.

…but at least we're on the way back.

That we are.

Gonna be a long year.

Yep.

Let's get started.

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