Category Archives: Site stuff

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.

[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.

Hajimeruzo!

Roughly a year ago (actually it would be about 11.5 months, to be precise), I went to my first J.LEAGUE match to watch FC Tokyo, the home team, get beaten 2-1 by the eventual league champions, Kashima Antlers. I was instantly hooked and began attending games regularly, even away matches within my sphere of influence. In August 2007 I joined SOCIO and became a season ticket holder, giving me that much more of a valid claim to bitch about the team's performance.

Sometime during that period I registered this domain name (aishiteru-tokyo.com) with the intent of turning t into a full-fledged English fansite for the team, complete with a Joomla install, all sorts of subpages, full multimedia capabilities, the whole deal. Then I realized that I would never have time to keep and maintain such a page, and thus it languished as a 'Coming Soon' image.

Then, while sitting at home today, nursing my bad ankles following last night's triumph “at” Tokyo Verdy, I decided to raise some hell and mock the Verdy fans over at the Rising Sun New's forums. I was subsequently outed as the first Gasmen to show up on those forums and challenged by one whom I suppose I should call my esteemed colleague (in the same way that, in politics, 'my esteemed colleague' is used as a gentler way of saying 'that bastard on the other side of the aisle') to come up with a blog to report on FC Tokyo's comings and goings in English, as such a site is lacking. I'm now convinced that this is his revenge for my attempt to troll the Verdy fans by forcing me to grind up what little free time I have into smaller fines to divide them ever further.

But I digress.

I have decided to take up this challenge, and to the best of my abilities I will report on the Blue and Red and its triumphs and tribulations throughout this season and as many more as I can follow.  A little about me:

-I'm an American (sorry about that, by the way) living in Nakano-ku, Tokyo, currently studying Japanese at a language school.

-Like most Americans, I played soccer in my youth.  Unlike most Americans I also enjoy watching it, but because the MLS never made it to Philadelphia while I lived in the states my loyalties remained unattached until I relocated to Tokyo.  That said I obviously wasn't raised on Premiere League so my technical knowledge of the game may be below par.  If you don't like it, write a better FC Tokyo blog 😉  Additionally I will call it football or soccer depending on the context.

-I sit behind the goal, 95% of the time in the section run by supporter group LA12.  I am usually the only foreigner there unless I've brought friends.

-I have a fixation on supporter culture bordering on unhealthy, primarily because American pro sports (American football, baseball, basketball, hockey) don't have supporters in the way that football does.  The chants, iconography, signs, and history are all incredibly fascinating to me and if I'm not familiar with a team I can more often than not gauge them based on their supporters.

Ideally I'd like to get other writers to help come up with reports, particularly when I can't get to games or to help translate articles that I might otherwise not get to.  In the meantime, let's see how this goes.

(04.12.08) Tokyo Verdy vs. FC Tokyo

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