Tag Archives: kawasaki frontale

[Match Preview] Is this the year?

November 3rd, 2004.

It's been a long time.
2009年11月08日 味の素スタジアム ● 0-1
2009年03月14日 埼玉スタジアム2002 ● 1-3
2008年08月16日 味の素スタジアム  ● 0-1
2008年07月05日 埼玉スタジアム2002 ● 0-2
2007年08月25日 埼玉スタジアム2002 ● 2-3
2007年06月17日 味の素スタジアム  ● 0-2
2006年11月26日 味の素スタジアム  △ 0-0
2006年08月12日 埼玉スタジアム2002 ● 0-4
2006年05月17日 味の素スタジアム △ 0-0
2006年03月29日 さいたま市浦和駒場 ● 0-2
2005年12月10日 愛媛県総合運動競技場 ● 0-2
2005年08月20日 埼玉スタジアム2002 ● 1-2
2005年04月16日 味の素スタジアム ● 0-2
2004年12月19日 埼玉スタジアム 2002 ● 1-2

…a very, very, very long time.

Five years, four months, and ten days have elapsed since FC Tokyo slayed Urawa Reds in penalty kicks to win the 2004 Nabisco Cup. In that space, Urawa has won 12 of 14 games played, with the other two matches (both at Ajinomoto Stadium) ending in scoreless draws. Indeed, it seems that some things in life are guaranteed: death, taxes, cherry blossoms blooming in the spring, and Urawa walking away from FC Tokyo with three points.

Like in 2009, Urawa will play host to Tokyo in its home opener after getting curbstomped 2-0 by reigning champions Kashima Antlers the previous week. Their offense will, again, be in disarray, and fans will, again, be wondering how Finke intends to salvage the team yet, as always, remain irrationally confident that Urawa will win all of the championships they are eligible for and a couple they probably aren't.

Unlike last year, however, the Reds will not be facing a reeling Tokyo squad with a rookie goalkeeper that had surrendered four goals in a horrific opening day loss to Albirex Niigata a week earlier. Instead, their opponents will be riding the momentum of a breathtaking stoppage time victory and one of Japan's most heralded back lines, with three of the four regular call-ups to the NT. Shuichi Gonda is no longer a frightened 20 year old, but instead a poised veteran who tied the J.League single-season shutout record and got a national team call-up of his own back in January. Naohiro Ishikawa, who missed last year's Urawa match following his season-ending knee injury, is likely to be back in the lineup as a “super-sub” and is expected to contribute in a similar fashion to his picture-perfect assist in last week's match. Hirayama, for several seasons a disappointment, may have finally awoken.

And that is why Tokyo could slay the Urawa dragon tomorrow in front of what's sure to be a packed house at Saitama Stadium.

In various occasions throughout the last week, players including Hirayama, Nagatomo, and Gonda have made assertive statements regarding a Tokyo victory. And you know what? This year of all years, I think it might be time to belive them.

It's generally being reported/predicted by the media that Jofuku will keep the same lineup from last week, and whether that's the best idea or not it seems like there aren't many better options.

The big question mark will, once again, involve Kajiyama and Ishikawa. Ishikawa is again set to come off the bench as a so-called “super sub”, but there are some rumblings about Kajiyama being ready to start. Unlike last week where the starting lineup was essentially announced on the FCT TV program “Tokyo Hotline,” it seems like Jofuku is playing his cards a little closer to his chest. There's also a chance that Akamine could earn a start, adding to the mystery.

Last week: Gonda; Mukuhara, Morishige, Konno, Nagatomo; Nakamura, Tokunaga, Hanyu, Matsushita; Hirayama, Suzuki

This week: Gonda; Mukuhara, Morishige, Konno, Nagatomo; Nakamura, Tokunaga, Hanyu, Matsushita; Hirayama, Akamine/Suzuki

Or if Kajiyama can start, Gonda; Tokunaga, Morishige, Konno, Nagatomo; Nakamura, Kajiyama, Mukuhara (why not, at least he'll play 90 minutes), Matsushita; Hirayama, Akamine/Suzuki

Hell, as long as I'm pulling names out of a hat let's take a page from commenter Bobby Mann Ate My Leg and spin it a little: Gonda; Tokunaga, Morishige, Hiramatsu, Nagatomo; Akamine, Mukuhara, Konno, Matsushita; Hirayama, Ricardinho

I don't imagine we'll figure out what's up until tomorrow, but the possibilities are certainly intriguing. I like Matsushita and want to see him get more playing time… I also want to see Nakamura come out and have a better outing than he did last week. At this point, Suzuki and Hanyu are really starting to become liabilities… Suzuki is a very servicable substitute but Hanyu's days as a regular starter could be numbered.

In other news…

  • FC Tokyo announced the tentative signing of 16-year-old volante Shuto Kono on Friday. The young U-17 NT player is the first pro player to emerge from the JFA Academy, a school set up by the Japanese Football Association with the goal of raising Japan's future elite class of soccer players. He was born and raised in Tokyo and has supported FCT his whole life, which makes him an ideal addition to the squad. Honestly, signing a 16-year-old probably doesn't mean much in the short term, but there's a possibility that Kono could be the next Yonemoto so in the long term it's a very smart pickup for the team.
  • Sunday's game is a near-sellout, with 2000 tickets set aside for match-day sales. Saitama Stadium's capacity is about 63,000. Last year's Urawa home opener, played in the rain, drew just over 50,000.
  • Speaking of rain, there's none expected on Sunday: partly cloudy and around 11C/50F.
  • Sota Hirayama will contribute a monthly column to Weekly Soccer Magazine with his first article to appear in Tuesday's edition.
  • FC Tokyo and derby rivals Kawasaki Frontale are set to announce details for this year's Tamagawa Classico on Monday. In addition to the usual press conference, the Tower Records in Kawasaki will be selling the official “Tamagawa Classico Anthem” CD (featuring the track “Get The River Under Control”), claimed to be the first musical collaboration between two J.League squads. I'm sure it won't be as bad as City Bred, Two Colors.
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[Match Report] Nabisco Cup Final FC Tokyo 2:0 (1:0) Kawasaki Frontale

2009 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Final
First Half
1- 0
Second Half

1- 0

Final
2 – 0

August 1st 2009, 2:09PM kickoff at “Kokuritsu” National Stadium (attendance 44,308)
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Yasuyuki Konno
DF 33 Kenta Mukuhara
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 40 Tatsuya Suzuki
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 24 Shingo Akamine
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 1 Eiji Kawashima
DF 19 Yusuke Mori
DF 17 Kosuke Kikuchi
DF 2 Hiroki Ito
DF 26 Kazuhiro Murakami
MF 29 Hiroyuki Taniguchi
MF 18 Tomonobu Yokoyama
MF 14 Kengo Nakamura
FW 9  Chong Tese
FW 10 Juninho
FW 34 Renatinho
60′ 5 Yuto Nagatomo (for Akamine)
74′ 15 Daishi Hiramatsu (for Hanyu)
86′ Hideki Sahara (for Suzuki)
Substitutes 70′ 6 Yusuke Tasaka (for Murakami)
79′ 7 Masano Kurotsu (for Renatinho)
84′ 23 Kyohei Noborizato (for Yokoyama)
22′ Yonemoto
59′ Hirayama
Goals
58′ Yonemoto
62′ Hanyu
Cautions 24′ Yokoyama
Ejections

Report

In a season where fans have begun to express concern at the nearly regular showings of diving, complaining, and otherwise poor sportsmanship in the Japanese game, the soccer-kami sat up on their mountain, cracked open a tall can of Sapporo, and declared with a booming voice “on this day, at Kokuritsu, there shall be a good clean 90 minutes of championship-caliber soccer.”

And by Gods, they got it.

This year’s 3rd edition of the Tamagawa Classico played out on the national stage, in front of a sold-out crowd of over 44,000 at Tokyo’s National Stadium with many more watching nationwide on TV.  Supporters for both teams were as ready for combat as the players, with fans lining up throughout the frigid and sometimes rainy night.  We got to the campout at 5am and enjoyed some chatting with fellow supporters as well as delicious dolphin stew.  When the gates finally opened, Tokyo supporters streamed through the turnstiles to hunt for seats, quickly filling the home end of the stadium.  Kawasaki fans soon joined them, and both team’s supporters would complete gorgeous choreography displays suitable for such a grand arena.  But after all of the flag-waving, balloon blowing, and toilet paper throwing, the match finally began, and of course that’s what you’re here to read about, right?

Well, fuck that, let’s watch those tifos:

The game started with both teams attempting to gain control, and was pretty even in the first 15 minutes.  Kawasaki pressed with a couple close shots (including a close-range bullet from Juninho that flew over the crossbar for reasons that defied us at the time), but Tokyo despite their sloppy defensive play somehow fought back and showed that they would not be pushed around.  Then, 22 minutes in, Tokyo pressed with a counterattack that saw the ball fall in front of 18-year old Takuji Yonemoto, who had been awarded the J.League New Hero Award (given to an under-23 player for outstanding contribution to his team in the Nabisco Cup) the night before.  30 yards out and with players swarming around him, Yone did what comes natural to a young player with more balls than brains and shot a curving bullet that everyone expected to fly safely into the hands of Kawasaki’s keeper.

Until it went in and the home end erupted in cheers.

Yonemoto’s goal was a fitting sequel to that daisy cutter against Shimizu in the semi-finals, and it threw Kawasaki back on their heels while giving Tokyo the confidence needed to solidify its defense and push on offense.  This continued till the whistle to end the first half, which passed by in what seemed like a moment.

15 minutes later, both teams came out for the second half seemingly ready to outdo their first-half performance.  Kawasaki pushed hard, committing more men to the attack only to be denied each time as either Gonda or a swarm of Tokyo players practically threw themselves on top of the ball in an attempt to stop the Frontale attack.  The fans in the away end, sensing an opportunity to get back into the game, sang at an even greater volume than before.

Suddenly, a Kengo Nagamura free kick lead to a Tokyo counter with Suzuki and Hirayama screaming down the pitch.  As Kawasaki’s defenders caught up with them, Suzuki flipped the ball that Sota, whose last appearance on the national stage at Kokuritsu was as a high schooler, was waiting for.

The only thought that came to mind was “finally.”  Anyone who’s watched Hirayama play this season knows that he’s had a desire verging on obsessive to score on a header (going so far as to shave his head for aerodynamic purposes), and yet in each game and in each practice shot it appears that once the ball comes into contact with his glittering dome the rebound is almost magnetically attracted to the “anywhere but the goal” area.  Well, this day was different and Tokyo took a commanding 2-0 lead with but half an hour left in the match.

With a 2-goal cushion, Jofuku opted to reinforce defensively by bringing in Nagatomo (who started on the bench b/c of his shoulder) and Dashi Hiramatsu.  This defensive posturing allowed Kawasaki to press the attack in a series of crosses, volleys, and corner kicks, each of which ended in a spectacularly heart-stopping moment as Tokyo’s supporters struggled to see where the ball was.  According to the official statistics Kawasaki took 17 shots in the game, but from where we were standing it seemed like they took 20 in the second half alone.  Crossbars were hit, Gonda was flying everywhere, and I recalled the highlights I’ve seen of Tokyo’s stunning effort against Urawa 5 years ago with each player exerting everything they had to stop the ball.  Yonemoto was everywhere at once, stealing balls from Juninho and Tese and showing why he was the New Hero.  Hiramatsu gave Frontale a free kick minutes after coming on after a hard tackle to stop a Kawasaki drive.  And so it continued, punctuated only by a swift counterattack that should have been a 3rd goal as both Nagatomo and Suzuki failed to find an open net.  Jofuku completed the defensive alignment by subbing out Suzuki for Hideki Sahara, but by then the wind had left the Frontale sails.  Kawasaki pushed, Tokyo didn’t break, and after a surprising 4 minutes of extra time the referee sounded the final whistle, bringing an end to 90 minutes of dive-free, hard-fought soccer and giving Tokyo its first championship in 5 years.  And the soccer-kami smiled.

The MVP award was, unsurprisingly, awarded to Takuji Yonemoto, making him the youngest player to win the Cup MVP; he gets one million yen (US$11,000) and bragging rights for the rest of his life.

Many more photos and video to come in a separate post, including the post-game victory rally at Ajinomoto Stadium.  For now a hearty congratulations to my fellow supporters and a tip of the hat to Kawasaki’s supporters and players.  It seems that the post-game conduct of Frontale’s players has sparked a bit of controversy, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that they played a fantastic match.  Tokyo just played more fantastically, and are deservedly your 2009 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Champions.

[Match Preview] 2009 J.League Nabisco Cup Final: FC Tokyo vs Kawasaki Frontale

November 3rd 2009, 2PM Kickoff at National Stadium “Kokuritsu” (Shinjuku, Tokyo)

J1 Competition Record: FCT 5 wins, 5 draws, Kawasaki Frontale 6 wins

The long, winding road of intra-league supremacy that began in March will finally come to an end at Tokyo National Stadium in about 16 hours when FC Tokyo takes on Kawasaki Frontale in the 2009 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Final.  The two teams, whose matches are dubbed the Tamagawa Classico in honor of the river that borders Tokyo and Kanagawa, will face each other outside of league competition for the first time.

While Kawasaki will attempt to claim its first Cup in 3 attempts (having lost to Kashima in 2000 and Osaka in 2007), Tokyo will try to win its first piece of silverware since the legendary 2004 Nabisco Cup Final, when a 10-man team held off the then-mighty Urawa Reds to win 4:2 in penalty kicks.

While Kawasaki is largely coming into the game at full-strength and leading J1, Tokyo has nearly stumbled into this final having sustained an unfortunate run of bad luck, injuries, and surprise transfers.  Among the players Tokyo will be without are striker Cabore (sold to a Qatar club just after Tokyo secured its finals birth), defender Teriyuki Moniwa (broken right orbital bone sustained in the Nagoya match), and midfielder Naohiro Ishikawa (knee ligament/meniscus sustained vs. Kashiwa).  NT regular Yuto Nagatomo (dislocated shoulder before the Shimizu match) will likely be a mid-match substitute.

Yet, as we dwell on those whose names may not grace the scoreboard tomorrow, we forget the names and accomplishments of those who will: Shuichi Gonda, the rookie goalkeeper who fell into the role of starter when Hitoshi Shiota fell to post-surgical complications, and despite some early difficulties has had one of the most successful rookie goalkeeper campaigns in recent memory.  Takuji Yonemoto, the lithe midfielder who was, tonight, honored with J.League’s “New Hero Award” for his contributions to Tokyo’s Cup run.  Bruno Quadros, the Brazillian defender who bounced back from last season’s injuries to bring control to a defense that was lost and confused early in the season.  Sota Hirayama, whom after several seasons of disappointing play has finally begun to awaken into the player that many expected him to be.  Not to mention Hanyu, Suzuki, Tokunaga, Konno, Kajiyama, and all the others who have taken a part in Tokyo’s rollercoaster of a season.

In previous matches this season, Tokyo gave up a 2-goal lead to lose 3-2 when Bruno got sent off in the second half at Ajinomoto, while in Todoroki Kawasaki came back from an 0-1 deficit to win 2-1 with an extra time goal. Tokyo are considered by most if not all to be the underdogs tomorrow; there is no question about it.  But none of this matters, because that’s why they play the game.

This match will either be decided on offense or on defense; will Suzuki, Akamine, or Hirayama be able to burst open a Kawasaki defense ranked 5th in fewest goals allowed this season (35 goals, tied with FC Tokyo)?  Can Yonemoto and Bruno contain Juninho and Chong Tese?  Will Kajiyama stop doing stupid, stupid things?  Will Tokyo ever learn how to defend against set pieces?  Most believe it to be a close game, and I’m generally apt to agree with them.  A 1-0 or 2-1 result would not be unexpected.  Lord knows if we go into extra time I’ll probably have a heart attack in the stands.

As Jofuku has said in interviews leading up to this match, “We’ve only gotten as far as we have by playing the kind of soccer we want to play.”  And as always, if the team can do that, they along with what are likely to be many more supporters than witnessed their 2004 victory will taste victory.  If by chance they cannot there will be no shame, for this team has met if not exceeded many of our expectations despite runs of bad luck throughout the season.

Really, there’s no description of what this match will be like that’s more fitting than the ad FujiTV placed on the back of today’s El Golazo: “What sort of soccer match sells out in 20 minutes?”

What sort of match, indeed?

As always you can follow @aishiterutokyo on Twitter for live reports.  I encourage anyone else who’s tweeting at the game to tag your tweets with #wearetokyo so that people can find them easier.

Also, for those of you watching on TV, these are the banners we’ll be flying at the game:

I will provide a prize to the first person who can provide a screencap from a live broadcast with at least one of these banners in the shot.  Email the cap to me at dokool[at]aishiteru-tokyo[dot]com.

And now to finish my packing and get some sleep before first train in the morning.

VAMOS!

Match Report: J1 Round 19: Kawasaki Frontale vs. FC Tokyo

J.League Division 1 Week 19
First Half
0 – 1

Second Half
2 – 0

Final
2 – 1

August 1st 2009, 7PM Kickoff at Todoroki Soccer Stadium (Nakahara, Kawasaki) Attendance ##,###
GK 1 Eiji Kawashima
DF 19 Yusuke Mori
DF 13 Shuhei Terada
DF 2 Hiroki Ito
DF 26 Kazuhiro Murakami
MF 18 Tomonobu Yokoyama
MF 29 Hiroyuki Taniguchi
MF 14 Kengo Nakamura
FW 15 Takuro Yajima
FW 10 Juninho
FW 8 Satoru Yamagishi
Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
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 9 Cabore
%%anc%%
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
53' 34 Renatinho (for Satoru Yamagishi)
65' 4 Yusuke Igawa (for Kazuhiro Murakami)
71' 20 Yuji Yabu (for Tomonobu Yokoyama)
Substitutes 70' 27 Sotan Tanabe (for Takuji Yonemoto)
77' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Cabore)
82' 24 Shingo Akamine (for Naohiro Ishikawa)
55' Juninho
89' Hiroyuki Taniguchi
Goals 37' Naohiro Ishikawa
44' Shuhei Terada
87' Renatinho
Cautions 3' Bruno Quadros
73' Yohei Kajiyama
Ejections

Report

Sorry this came late but I was at Rock In Japan Festival all weekend and spent the rest of the week recovering.  From the looks of it, doesn't seem like a match I would have enjoyed attending much anyway.  Jofuku returned to the lineup that had given the team so much success in the last couple months, but a failure to keep the lead resulted in a heartbreaking injury time loss.  Tokyo now sits at 6th place in the standings (edged out by Shimizu on points) and Kashima's loss means that the top half of the table draws ever closer.

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Match Report: J1 Round 13: FC Tokyo vs. Kawasaki Frontale

J-League Round 13
First Half
1 – 0Second Half
1 – 3

Final
0 – 1

May 24th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 27,851
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
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 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 1 Eiji Kawashima
DF 19 Yusuke Mori
DF 4 Yusuke Igawa
DF 17 Kosuke Kikuchi
DF 2 Hiroki Ito
MF 6 Yusuke Tasaka
MF 14 Kengo Nakamura
MF 29 Hiroyuki Taniguchi
FW 34 Renatinho
FW 9 Chong Tese
FW 10 Juninho
Half 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Naotake Hanyu)
59′ 2 Teruyuki Moniwa (for Naohiro Ishikawa)
75′ 14 Hokuto Nakamura (for Sota Hirayama)
Substitutes 54′ 11 Vitor Junior (for Yusuke Tasaka)
79′ 18 Tomonobu Yokoyama (for Renatinho)
89′ 7 Masaru Kurotsu (for Chong Tese)
28′ Yasuyuki Konno
54′ Naohiro Ishikawa
Goals 58′ Juninho
65′ Hiroyuki Taniguchi
68′ Renatinho
  Cautions 15′ Yusuke Tasaka
65′ Chong Tese
89′ Masaru Kurotsu
57′ Bruno Quadros Ejections  

Report

This was a great match spoiled by the team’s quick and utter collapse following the ejection of Bruno Quadros 13 minutes into the second half.  Though Tokyo managed to control the flow of the game for most of the first half and into the second, going down to 10 men proved to be the catalyst as Kawasaki took over and FCT quickly became demoralized.  It was painful to watch, quite frankly.  Definitely a case where one decision by the referee can affect the entire game, and nobody likes to see that.  Had Bruno not gotten a stupid red card (I didn’t even bother to check the video; Matsu over at TRSN had no problem with it so it was probably deserved.

On the plus side, the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra live before the game was pretty rad, so there’s that.

Match Preview: J1 Week 13, FC Tokyo vs. Kawasaki Frontale (5/24)

May 24th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo)

J1 Competition Record: FCT 5 wins, 4 draws, Kawasaki Frontale 4 wins

Background

It’s Clasico time!  FC Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale will take on each other in the 15th edition of the Tamagawa Clasico and the last J.League match before the national team break.  This rivalry, more or less a low-level derby, came as a resulty of the Tamagawa River that separates Western Tokyo and Kanagawa.  The front offices of both teams work together to promote the Clasico, which has provided several entertaining matches.  In the last two years, the team that has won the first leg has gone on to win the second; Kawasaki took the series in ’07 and Tokyo dominated in ’08.  With J.League Division 1 set to return to play at the end of June, a win would put either team in contention going into the next part of the season.

Though off to a shaky start this year, Tokyo looks to be regaining its form and several players who have been out with injuries recently (Cabore, Tokunaga, Ishikawa, and Kajiyama) appear to be healthy and are in the running to make the roster tomorrow.  Tokyo’s lineup has also been bolstered by the long-awaited appearance of Hokuto Nakamura, who capped his J1 return with a goal against Yokohama F. Marinos last Saturday night.

The Matchup

Kawasaki has one of the most potent offenses in the league; to say that Gonda will be challenged is an understatement.  The question is not if he will have to make a big save, but when.  Defense will be helped by Tokunaga’s return; Konno has done quite well in the backfield and it will be interesting to see if Jofuku keeps him there.

Offensively, though goals still aren’t coming as frequently as anyone will like, the offense seems like it could come together with Hirayama redoubling his efforts and Nakamura making a big splash onto the scene.  Whether Ishikawa and Kajiyama will have an impact on their return is to be seen, but Cabore back in front will certainly be welcome.

On the weather front, rain predicted for tomorrow.  Yuck.

Predictions

The last couple Clasicos at Ajinomoto have been high-scoring affairs, however I fear that if the same happens tomorrow it will not be in Tokyo’s favor.  The team is capable of winning a 1-0 or 2-1 match, but unless the offense suddenly finds its mojo Tokyo can’t win in a shootout.  The rain predicted to fall tomorrow could be in Tokyo’s favor as it becomes a game of attrition.

Errata

The team announced today that in response to the flu threat, normal on-field pre-game activities involving the fans will not take place.  These include the group of kids that give the players high-fives as they come onto the field for practice, the fans carrying the Fair Play flag, and the children that hold the players’ hands as they come onfield during the official introductions.  The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra concert, however, is still on and will hopefully be fantastic.

You'll Never Ska Alone! Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra to play pre-game concert

According to this news from Nikkan Sports and confirmed on the band's official website, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra will be returning to Ajinomoto Stadium for the first time in 5 years to hold a pre-game concert.  The 9-minute live will start about 20 minutes before Tokyo takes on Kawasaki Frontale on May 24th and include three songs; probably their cover of You'll Never Walk Alone (as included in their most recent album Paradise Blue), スタジアムへ行こう, and a third song (my money would be on their cover of the Lupin the 3rd '78 theme).

The band will play on a special stage set up on the upper level of the “home” side of the stadium (I'm guessing front stand).  I've so far failed to find any photos of the '03 or '04 performances but if I can find them, they'll be posted (not likely because usually Japanese organizations have strict no-photo policies, but we'll see!)  The band will be selling limited-edition tee-shirts to commemorate the event beginning next week.

For more information on Skapara's history with FC Tokyo, check out our Music page.

And I totally want to make a giant “You'll Never Ska Alone” banner now.  Who's with me?

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J.League News: Frontale manager Sekizuka resigns

Kawasaki Frontale announced today that due to health problems that resulted in hospitalization beginning roughly two weeks ago, manager Takashi Sekizuka would be resigning from the team

According to the team's official statement, Sekizuka was hospitalized following complaints of discomfort after training on April 8th.  Tests found repeated occurrences of arrhythmia caused by excess stress and fatigue.  Sekizuka handed the full results of his examination to the team along with his resignation.  He will be replaced by coach Tsutomu Hatanaka.

Sekizuka has managed Frontale since 2004, leading them to the J2 championship in that year and to second place in the 2006 J1 campaign, as well as the quarterfinals of the 2007 ACL Championships.  Below is a photo of Sekizuka posing with former FC Tokyo manager Hiromi Hara to promote last year's Tamagawa Clasico.

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REPORT: 04.19 FC Tokyo 4:2 (2:2) Kawasaki Frontale (J1 Week 7)

Let’s get the TL;DR version out of the way…

FC Tokyo, if by some microscopic chance you’re paying attention to this little blog? that is how you win matches, and how you will continue to win matches.

On a day that started sunny, clouds threatened throughout the match but it didn’t start to rain until most of us began to leave the stadium. But a storm was brewing on the field as the 13th round of the Tamagawa Clasico was one to remember.

The boys in blue and red dominated the pitch almost from start – none of the mistakes we’ve seen in the past, or at least if they were made they were all done in the last few minutes when the match was all but decided. Tokyo dominated the midfield and kept constant pressure on Kawasaki to the point where it was only a matter of time before they would score – the question was when.

Kawasaki drew first blood with a set piece – these seem to be Tokyo’s weak point as of late (recall that Verdy’s one goal against Tokyo was from a free kick). Tokyo was unable to clear and Kashima foward Chong Tese kicked to the lower right post past Shiota. However, FCT quickly countered, and 6 minutes later Cabore slammed in the equalizer. Just a minute later, Frontale capitalized on a miscue near the Tokyo goal – an FC Tokyo player fell over Shiota as he was diving to make the save and as a result Shiota got caught outside of the box, leaving midfielder Taniguchi a practical open net. This would end up being the last major defensive mistake Tokyo would make for the rest of the game.

Right before halftime, Akamine came through with a fantastic goal to tie things up at 2 apiece, and the supporters behind the goal were rabid.

After halftime, Tokyo continued to pressure, but was unable to get a score. Then, in the 63rd minute, Otake came in for Tokunaga and in the same minute sliced through the Kawasaki defense and slammed in what would turn out to be the game winner. As you watched Otake slip past one defender after another, you knew 10 seconds before it happened it was going to be a goal, and what a glorious way to pop his cherry. 7 minutes later Konno pushed a fourth goal in with what appeared to be his knee and was almost an own-goal, essentially sealing Kawasaki’s fate with 20 minutes left in the match. Even the Kawasaki players seemed resigned to going back across the Tamagawa with no points by the 80th or so minutes, despite a few strong offensive pushes that tested Tokyo’s defense and kept Shiota busy. But, in the end, the melody of nemuranai machi rose into the night as FC Tokyo took home the win.

Game notes:

-This match was pretty rough – four yellow cards were given, and a couple were omitted, including a rough collision by Kawasaki GK Kawashima on defender Nagatomo in the second half. Much like in last year’s match, Kawasaki essentially attempted to bully FC Tokyo – except this time, FCT fought back and did so convincingly

-Juninho had a couple breakout moments where he wove past the first line of defense, but in the end he was contained in the same way Hulk was contained.

-Stupid mistakes were way down – like, insignificant compared to the B-Team effort that they put up against Jubilo and even smaller compared to Verdy. Better passing in coverage, fewer turnovers. A few give-and-go plays didn’t go as planned, but more did than didn’t. Additionally, according to the official website FC Tokyo took 8 shots and made 4 of them. I’m not sure whether I should be happy that they’re picking their opportunities or upset that they’re not taking more shots, but 4 is the most they’ve scored since last August against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

-Attendance was 22,283 – roughly the same as for the Verdy match, which surprised me. I’m inclined to think that a number of Tokyo fans feared the rain and stayed home, and they missed out. Kawasaki’s supporters were loud and impressive – fat lot of good it did them in the end, but they’re probably the largest supporter group we’ve opposed so far this year, including Verdy.

-Defender Hideki Sahara faced his former squadmates on Kawasaki for the first time since joining FC Tokyo. He received a yellow card and plenty of cheers from the home crowd as well as a couple gate flags making note of his change of residence: Photo 1 Photo 2

-Akamine got the hero interview but Otake got summoned for the sha-sha-sha chant. He went right up to the front of the supporter’s section so I didn’t see anything but I expect it’ll show up on YouTube soon enough.

-Speaking of photos I did appear in the Match Day Program – they did not include my plug for the blog but they did fix my bungled Japanese, so one for two. I’ll scan it tonight or tomorrow when I upload my photos from the game.

Finally the match notes:

STARTING LINEUPS

FC Tokyo – (GK) Shiota, (DF) Tokunaga, Sahara, Fujiyama, Nagatomo, (MF) Asari, Kajiyama, Konno, Kurisawa, Akamine, (FW) Cabore

Kawasaki Frontale – (GK) Kawajima, (DF) Igawa, Terada, Ito, (MF) Mori, Nakamura, Taniguchi, Yamagishi, Ohashi, (FW) Chong, Juninho

SUBSTITUTIONS

FC Tokyo – Otake (Kurisawa 63′), Kawaguchi (Cabore 84′)

Kawasaki Frontale – Yabu (Ohashi, 63′), Kurotsu (Yamagishi, 74′), Kukino (Mori, 84′)

GOALS

FC Tokyo – Cabore (25′), Akamine (43′), Otake (63′), Konno (70′)

Kawasaki Frontale – Chong (19′), Taniguchi (26′)

YELLOW CARDS

FC Tokyo – Sahara (’19)

Kawasaki Frontale – Taniguchi (’31), Terada (’46), Mori (’48)

With today’s matches over, FC Tokyo finds itself in 3rd place in the standings – naturally this may (and likely will) change after tomorrow’s games, but things are looking up.  The next match is an away game against Jubilo – I won’t be there but I’m sure I’ll figure out some way to watch the game and get some sort of report up.

Preview: 04.19 FC Tokyo vs. Kawasaki Frontale (2008 J.LEAGUE Div. 1 Round 7)

I'm falling asleep at my keyboard so this will not be as in-depth and analytical as the Jubilo preview (and in fact I'll probably end up re-writing some of this in the morning). I'm still trying to find a comfortable pace at which I can write this blog, but I assume anyone reading this will bear with me.

Tomorrow's match marks the home leg of the Tamagawa Clasico between Kanto rivals FC Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale. Gasheads are still smarting from last year's 7-0 home thrashing at the hands of the dolphins, a low point if ever there was one in the dismally mediocre 2007 season. Fortunately, it's a new season and a new team, perfect for the exorcism of demons of seasons past. FC Tokyo has 3 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses all-time in the series.  Kawasaki currently sits in 10th place and is at risk of falling several spots with a loss.

So, let's go ahead with my predictions.

How FC Tokyo Can Win
Get the ball into the net. Cabore, Hanyu, and Otake have been instrumental in reviving the team's attack, and indeed they've had many more chances to score this year than they ever did last year. There is a difference, however, between a shot and a goal, and that can often be the difference between leaving the field with three, one, or no points. Even a shot their goalkeeper knocks away is better thana scrum in the box that the Kawasaki defenders clear to the sideline; the more pressure they put on the GK the better the chance is he'll make a mistake.

Stop Juninho. FCT managed to keep Verdy's Brazillian Brigade in check for most of the match last Saturday, but Juninho is arguably better than anyone on Verdy's squad and will give Otake and Nagatomo a run for their money. Although the 4-2-2-2 against Jubilo worked well in creating chances at goal, expect a more conservative 4-3-1-2 to adjust for Kawasaki's offense. To counter Juninho's speed, Bruno may get another start following his appearance against Jubilo.

Fewer turnovers. Far too many were committed against a Jubilo team that couldn't capitalize on them. Kawasaki, on the other hand, will be more than capable of making Tokyo regret its mistakes.

Hirayama must perform. Although fans on Wednesday night were appreciative of his performance, reaction on the blogosphere afterwards shows that #13 hasn't done enough to atone for his lack of effort earlier in the season. If Cabore isn't fit to play a full 90 minutes following his early exit on Wednesday, Hirayama needs to draw his line in the sand and come through with some big plays.

Wild Card

The weather in Tokyo since the other day has been, for lack of a better word, shit. The wind is blowing, it is raining, it is damp, it is cold, it is miserable. British fans attending the match will feel right at home. I've been told the rain is supposed to stop at 12PM (kickoff is at 4PM), but whether that turns out to be true is another matter.  The condition of the pitch could certainly affect play, and if it starts raining during the match all bets are off.

In Other News…

Speaking of #13, Sota Hirayama has been called up to the Japan National U-23 Olympic Team's training camp in Saitama next week after being left off of the squad for last month's match against Angola.  He'll be joined by fellow squadmate Youhei Kajiyama.

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