Category Archives: J.League News

JOMO Cup 2009 Roster Announced…

And FC Tokyo has nobody on it.  Neither do 8 other J.League teams.  Kashima has 6 players in the all-star lineup plus their manager, Urawa has 3, Gamba and Kawasaki have 2, and a smattering of other teams have one player.

My opinion?  Fuck it, let Kashima's starting lineup deal with the jet lag and getting the smell of kimchi out of their clothes.  Nobody really seems to be giving Tokyo credit for their post-break comeback, and as far as I'm concerned the fewer teams that see us coming the better.Best casino online payouts

765qwerty765

News from Kobe: ex-FCT star Norio Suzuki to France, Caio resigns

Norio Suzuki, who wore blue and red from 2002 through 2007, has been transferred to French Ligue 2 side Angers SCO for a couple of baguettes, as far as anyone can tell.  Suzuki score 13 goals in league play for Tokyo during his tenure and continued to be a fan favorite, recieving hearty cheers whenever Kobe came to town (at least after the game; during the game he would be loudly booed by half the stadium whenever he came within about 15 feet of the ball).  Best of luck, Norio!

In other news from Vissel territory, manager Caio Jr. announced his sudden resignation from the team yesterday.  He will be replaced by interim manager Masahiro Wada for their match against Tokyo on Saturday night.

Will Vissel rally around their new coach or will the disappearance of one of their talented young players and unsteady leadership cause them to collapse like a house of cards?  We'll find out in three days.

zp8497586rq

Kajiyama out 1-2 weeks, “Fan service” at Kodaira Ground due to flu fears

To start off today’s news post (because the Chiba-FCT game is on some obscure satellite channel and I can’t watch it), Kajiyama’s out for 1-2 weeks after taking a knock to the shin.  It appears that wunderkind Soutan Tanabe is taking his place in the lineup tonight.  That should be interesting.

Now, for the scarier bit: as the H1N1 flu strain spread across Japan (as of this writing 230-something cases in three prefectures, plus the four travellers stopped at Narita Airport), professional sports teams are struggling to protect fans while not giving up the unique homefield advantage that Japanese cheering squads offer.

FC Tokyo has, for its part, announced that fan service at Kodaira Ground is suspended for the forseeable future as of today (May 20th).  In the past, players stop by the “fan area” following practice to take photos, sign autographs, and shake hands from the loyal supporters who come to watch.  Fans will still be allowed to attend open practices, however players will go straight to the locker room instead of passing by the fan area.

FC Tokyo is far from the only soccer team to take measures to prevent flu transmission.  Before last Saturday’s match, the mayor of Yokohama appeared to promote a triathalon of some sort as well as to encourage people to wear masks and wash their hands and not flood hospitals with phone calls.  J2 squad Roasso Kumamoto is suspending pre-game fan events (including autograph sessions).  Also while these are Kyoto fans the pic is too lulzy to pass up on:

On the baseball side of things, the Hanshin Tigers have stopped selling “jet balloons” (long, thin balloons traditionally launched en masse during the 7th inning stretch) and discouraged fans from releasing them at games.  Similar steps have been taken by the Orix Buffaloes, Yakult Swallows, and Softbank Hawks.

FC Tokyo 2009 J1 & Nabisco Cup Schedule Announced

And here we go…
2009 J.League Division 1 (Home matches in bold)

3/7 HOME vs. Albirex Niigata
3/13 AWAY @ Urawa Reds
3/21 HOME vs. Montedio Yamagata
4/4 AWAY @ Jubilo Iwata
4/12 HOME vs. Kashima Antlers
4/18 HOME vs. JEF Chiba (Kokuritsu)

4/25 AWAY @ Oita Trinita
4/29 AWAY @ Gamba Osaka
5/2 HOME vs. Omiya Ardija
5/5 AWAY @ Sanfrecce Hiroshima
5/9 HOME vs. Kyoto Sanga
5/16 AWAY @ Yokohama F. Marinos
5/24 HOME vs. Kawasaki Frontale
6/20 AWAY @ Kashiwa Reysol
6/27 HOME vs. Shimizu S-Pulse (Kokuritsu)
7/4 AWAY @ Vissel Kobe
7/21 HOME vs. Nagoya Grampus
7/18 AWAY @ Omiya Ardija
7/25 HOME vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima
8/1 AWAY @ Kawasaki Frontale
8/16 HOME vs. Yokohama F. Marinos
8/19 AWAY @ Montedio Yamagata
8/22 AWAY @ Kashima Antlers
8/29 HOME vs. Oita Trinita
9/12 AWAY @ Kyoto Sanga
9/19 HOME vs. Gamba Osaka
9/26 HOME vs. Jubilo Iwata

10/4 AWAY @ Nagoya Grampus
10/17 HOME vs. Kashiwa Reysol
10/25 AWAY @ Shimizu S-Pulse
11/8 HOME vs. Urawa Reds
11/22 AWAY @ JEF Chiba
11/28 HOME vs. Vissel Kobe
12/5 AWAY @ Albirex Niigata

My thoughts:

-Our matches with the AFC teams are finished by early October, so we don’t get the benefit of catching any of them in November when any teams that have made the finals will be worn out from travelling.

-Bitch of a Golden Week Sprint.  In 2 weeks the team will travel from Osaka -> Tokyo -> Hiroshima -> Tokyo.  Through a stroke of luck I might be in Osaka the day before that match and if I can I’ll just stay an extra night and catch the game there.

-FCT’s away match at Urawa is actually the Reds’ home opener, which I’m kinda stoked about if I can get a ticket.  Gotta figure any tifos they do will be damned impressive.

-I count several Spring matches where I’m either going from a game to a concert, or going to a game after an all-night DJ event, and possibly in one case both.  If I attend Anime Boston as I do yearly, no Kawasaki home game for me.

-In terms of tough stretches, I would say May is pretty rough with Kyoto -> Yokohama -> Kawasaki.  Shimizu -> Kobe -> Grampus in late June/early July could also be troubling.  That said I don’t see any ridiculous stretches like we had last year with Osaka -> Kashima -> Urawa or anything like that.

-Stunningly, FC Tokyo has not ended the J.League season at home since joining the league.  They have played the last game of the season in Tokyo once, as the away team in the 2001 Tokyo Derby (a 1-0 defeat).  This “tradition” will continue with an away match in Niigata.

And for completeness here’s our Nabisco Cup draw.

2009 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup (Home matches in bold)

3/25 AWAY @ Kashiwa Reysol
3/29 HOME vs. Vissel Kobe
5/20 AWAY @ JEF Chiba
5/30 AWAY @ Kyoto Sanga
6/3 HOME vs. Montedio Yamagata (Kokuritsu)
6/13 HOME vs. Shimizu S-Pulse (Komazawa)

News from Guam Camp and the NT

First the bad news: because of poor performance in the Guam training camp, starting GK Hitoshi Shiota returned on Friday to Japan for a medical examination, which was conducted in Saitama on Saturday. The examination diagnosed heatstroke and glandular swelling, and a second examination has been scheduled for a few days from now.

Now the good news. Two FC Tokyo players have been named to the team for the 2/4 Kirin Challenge Cup match against Finland and the World Cup qualifier against Australia on 2/11. DF Yuto Nagamoto and MF Yasuyuki Konno will be wearing NT blue on both dates.

2009 Nabisco Cup Groups

Editor’s Note – With the 2009 season I hope to make Aishiteru Tokyo even better than it was last year; that is to say even when my life is hectic there will still be fresh content.  To that end I’ve enlisted my good friend Lantis to help out with “maintenance” posting – injury reports, transfer news, YouTube roundups, and all the things I always seemed to never have time to take care of last season.  He’ll also poke me to update my game reports at a regular pace, which will help matters greatly.  Hooray more writers! –dokool

Thanks to a reliable source, it appears that the 2009 Nabisco Cup groups have been decided. This year’s format has two groups of seven teams in a single round-robin set of fixtures, with the top two teams from each group joining the four ACL teams in the knockout stage:

Group A

FC Tokyo
JEF United Chiba
Kashiwa Reysol
Kyoto Sanga FC
Montedio Yamagata
Shimizu S-Pulse (again)
Vissel Kobe

Group B

Albirex Niigata
Oita Trinita
Omiya Ardija
Jubilo Iwata
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa Reds
Yokohama F. Marinos

Bye to Quarterfinals

Gamba Osaka
Kashima Antlers
Kawasaki Frontale
Nagoya Grampus

From the source, JEF is coming to Ajinomoto (or possibly Kokuritsu), but who the other home matches are isn’t clear. The full J.League schedule should be out later this month, so the timer is ticking for the 2009 season to kick off.

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.

The Beatdown Rolls On

The wind is blowing a bit colder, daylight is getting shorter, and I’ve abandoned my previous strict naming conventions for these posts.  Must be fall again!

It was a good September for the boys, as they went undefeated in games against Omiya Ardija, Kawasaki Frontale, Jubilo Iwata, and Consadole Sapporo.  They have now won five in a row (stretching back to August’s match against Kashiwa), and Shingo Akamine has scored in each match.  Akamine now leads all Japanese players with 11 goals so far this season.

While the Kawasaki match was a 1-0 slugout played in the rain, the Jubilo affair gave the fans a reason to cheer – a 5-1 drubbing that not only helped FC Tokyo’s aggregate but seemed to give players confidence that they could, indeed, put the ball in the net.  Goals by Cabore, Akamine, Ishikawa (some argued he should be credited with two goals, but the first was credited as an own-goal), and new striker Suzuki made it a match to remember.

The next match, at lowly Sapporo, was slightly more challenging – though FCT fell behind early in the second half, Akamine would equalize on a fantastic header and Otake would score the winner a minute after coming onto the field – strangely reminiscent of his first score against Kawasaki Frontale back in April.  The match was marked by a note of concern when in his first appearance in a long time following injury, Hanyu sustained another injury 8 minutes after coming onto the field and was replaced by Bruno Quadros.

Tokyo has held steady at 6th place in the standings for all of September, but now that the makeup games from last week have been played FCT is tantalizingly close to first place – 4 points behind Kashima (ahead on aggregate) and Nagoya, 3 points behind Oita, 2 points behind Urawa, and tied with Kawasaki but behind on aggregate.  There are seven rounds left in the season, and whether FCT can make up the ground is yet to be seen, but a top-5 finish is almost certainly in the cards.

Our remaining matches are home against Shimizu, away at Oita, home against Kashima, away at Osaka, away at Kobe, home against Niigata, and away at Chiba, ensuring that a decently-sized contingent of supporters will be there at the end.

While Shimizu is a respectable mid-table opponent that will provide a good match one way or the other, the next two triplets are where the big story is – FCT cannot hope to take the title without winning or drawing against Trinita/Antlers/Gamba – the first two are obviously at the top of the ladder and must be pulled down, and Gamba has regained its form and is making a late advantage, though the team will certainly have more pressure on it when one considers their ACL tie against Urawa.

The latter set of three matches – Vissel, Albirex, and JEF – provide a different sort of drama.  All three teams are in danger of relegation, with JEF Chiba in the “oh shit not two more games” slot and Vissel and Albirex joining a half dozen other teams in the “no, we’re not sure we want to be in J1 either” sweepstakes, albiet from positions of relative safety.  Any of these teams might still be fighting for their spot in J1’s 2009 season by the time the boys take the field and will likely make the games must-watches.

Fun times ahead, my friends.  Fun times.  This weekend’s match at Shimizu will likely herald the return of Konno from his red card suspension, which will undoubtedly provide further support to a Tokyo squad that… well, has done pretty fine without him.  Not that we didn’t miss him, of course.

In J2 news, Sanfrecce Hiroshima has secured promotion to J1 (and will likely secure the J2 crown if it hasn’t already) a scant 9 months after losing a tough relegation series to Kyoto.  One can imagine that the Hiroshima/Kyoto matches will be entertaining as all hell to watch next year.  Fighting for the second and third spots are Shonan Belmare, Montideo Yamagata, Vegalta Sendai, and Sagan Tosu.

[Nabisco Cup/Site Stuff] The Long Vacation

The Rainy Season has fallen upon Tokyo, but spirits are high in Chofu.  With its win against Tokyo Verdy, FC Tokyo secured the first wildcard seed in the Nabisco Cup Quarterfinals.  Fortunately with the way that the Nabisco Cup is set up, counter to how most wildcard seeds get treated in the US, this is an advantage.  FC Tokyo will play the mediocre Oita Trinita in a home-and-home series, with the first match taking place on July 2nd at Ajinomoto and the second match taking place on August 6th at Kyushuu Oil Dome.

Should FC Tokyo win the series, they’ll take on the winners of the JEF Chiba vs. Nagoya Grampus series in the semifinals in early September (3rd and 9th).  On the other side of the bracket, Shimizu takes on Kashiwa and Gamba fights it out with Yokohama FM, with the winners of those respective series facing off against each other in the semifinals.  The winners of the semifinal matches will challenge for the hardware at Kokuritsu on November First. In my opinion, Tokyo can easily reach the finals, but if they listened to my opinion they wouldn’t bother playing the matches, would they.

In other news, things are quiet in Gastown.  FCT travels to South Korea this weekend for a friendly against FC Seoul before J.League Division 1 resumes.  Unfortunately, my game schedule will be interrupted by the only thing that can affect it – my family coming to visit me.  We’re all going to Osaka to spend 10 days in Kansai, so I will not be at the following matches:

6/29 vs. JEF United Chiba (J1 R14) – I highly suggest fans attend the day if you can, last year TOMAS gave away free muffler towels on their sponsor day.
7/2 vs. Oita Trinita (Nabisco Cup Quarterfinal)
7/5 at Urawa Reds (J1 R15) – Even if I *could* go to this game I’m not sure if I’d want to.
7/13 at Kashiwa Antlers (J1 R16) – I’ll actually be back in Tokyo on the 7th but photography commitments prevent me from making the trip out to Deer Island.

This is hella 申し訳ない especially since I have no reason *not* to attend any of these matches, but when family comes calling what can you do?

My next game will be the home match on 7/16 vs. Gamba Osaka – yes, that’s right, FC Tokyo takes on Urawa, Kashiwa, and Gamba within an 11 day span.  Maybe I can ditch my family on the 5th and at least find a sports bar in Osaka that would broadcast the Reds game, especially since Gamba doesn’t play on the 5th… if anyone reading this has any suggestions for places to go in Osaka, by all means lemme know,

In site news, my exams are more or less over so I’m going to start updating some stuff, including the supporter song section, as well as the page on attending FC Tokyo matches now that I know where all of my screenshots of the Loppi machine are.  I’m also going to try to figure out a system where I can order+ship FC Tokyo swag for any fans/collectors who might be interested in such a thing.  Good times, good times.

Oh, and I pulled a ticket to the National Team’s match against Bahrain on the 22nd, so that should be fun!  I’m not sure what the policies are viz. bringing cameras into the stadium but I’ll do my best to maybe post some pics and video if I can.

[MatchRecap] 05.17 Jubilo Iwata 1:2 (1:0) FC Tokyo (J1 W13)

So, um, been a while.  Sorry about that.  School got hectic as well as some personal matters and I still have a metric ton of game photos to go through in addition to everything else.  Apologies for no Kashiwa report (I assure you that with a disappointing 1:0 loss in the rain, you didn’t miss much) and no preview for the Jubilo match.

Fortunately, after dropping two consecutive 1-0 games at home, FC Tokyo went on the road and pulled off a much-needed win against Jubilo Iwata this afternoon.  Trailing 1-0 after the first half, Shingo Akamine came back strong in the second half, scoring a brace (that’s apparently two for any Americans who are reading this) and pulling the Gasmen to victory.  Notable in the lineup was the return of midfielder Emerson to the squad as a substitute in his first match since his injury sustained during the team’s away campaign in Niigata.  Emerson came on for Hanyu in the second half, proving in his fitness that manager Jofuku has one more weapon in a Tokyo offence that lately has struggled to get the job done.

More importantly, around the league a miraculous series of results has brought FC Tokyo to within reach of the top spot in the league yet again.  Urawa fell to Gamba Osaka at home in a match that included altercations among the fans, apparently.  Kawasaki dropped a 2-0 lead to fall to Omiya Ardija 3-2.  Kashima extended its winless streak to 7 games with a 1-1 draw against Kashiwa, and Nagoya beat up on the helpless Consadole Sapporo.  Even JEF Chiba has won two games in a row since sacking its manager.

So, what’s all that mean?  Urawa and Nagoya are at the top of the ladder with 26 points (with Urawa leading in goal differential).  FC Tokyo is alone in 3rd place with 23 points.  Kashiwa Reysol has surged to the top of the ladder with 20 points along with Kawasaki Frontale.  Kashima continues to struggle, now tied with fellow ACL contenders Gamba Osaka as well as Omiya Ardija at 19 points apiece.  Yokohama F. Marinos sit alone in 9th place with 18 points.  With a mere 8 points separating the top half of the ladder, it is quite clearly anyone’s season.  Well, except for Consadole and JEF Chiba, but there’s always gotta be a whipping boy.

Last season at this point, FC Tokyo was in 13th place and pretty much had no hope of rising any further (indeed, they would finish 12th in the standings).  This year, although there have certainly been some bumps in the road, FC Tokyo goes into the 1/3rd-season-break with a strong squad that can easily stay a contender for the remainder of the season and perhaps even vie for the title.  Good times ahead for the gasmen!

The next month brings good times as well – this coming Sunday is the Tokyo Derby against the ever-hated Kawasaki Verdy, followed by a “home” match on the 31st against Shimizu at Alwin Stadium in Nagano (hell knows why we’re playing a home game in Nagano, but hey).  On June 8th is another Tokyo Derby match (this time as the “away” team) at National Stadium, followed by a friendly versus FC Seoul in Korea on the 15th.
All matches (with the obvious exception of the FC Seoul campaign) are for the Nabisco Cup and won’t count in the standings, but naturally wins against Verdy will do much to rebuild the fan’s morale following the recent spate of home losses.  If Tokyo wants to go on to the next round of the Nabisco Cup, the game against Shimizu will be a must-win given the current standings.

In anticipation of the next Tokyo Derby match I’ll try to do a post regarding supporter chants later in the week.  Stay tuned!