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[Match Report] J1 Week 30 Shimizu S-Pulse 1:2 FC Tokyo

J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Semifinal Part 2
First Half
1- 2
Second Half
0 – 0

1 – 2

October 25th 2009, 1:03PM Kickoff at Nihondaira “Outsourcing” Stadium (Shimizu, Shizuoka) Attendance 19,275
GK K. Yamamoto
DF Ichikawa
DF Iwashita
DF Arata
DF Ota
MF Edamura
MF M. Yamamoto
MF Ito
MF Hyodo
FW Johnsen
FW Okazaki
Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Teriyuki Konno
DF 5 Yuto Nagatomo
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 40 Tatsuya Suzuki
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 24 Shingo Akamine
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Fujimoto on for Hyodo (68)
Hara on for Masaki (69)
Takaki on for Arata (78)

Substitutes 25′ 33 Kenta Mukuhara (for Nagatomo)
76′ 15 Daishi Hiramatsu (for Tatsuya)
85′ 8 Ryuji Fujiyama (for Hanyu)
7′ Okazaki Goals 3′ Tatsuya Suzuki
39′ Own Goal
89′ Iwashita Cautions 28′ Sota Hirayama
33′ Shingo Akamine


Apologies for the late report, Nabisco Cup preparations are consuming my days.
It was a sunny, blustery afternoon at Nihondaira; perfect for a soccer match.  Nihondaira has become one of my favorite stadiums in Japan this season; great architecture combined with a welcoming atmosphere, great concessions, and a passionate supporter base.  We took all local trains (3.5 hours but also about 40% of the cost of a shinkansen), so the trip started at about 9AM, but it was worth it to arrive up the mountain.

Oh, and the game was pretty good too, except when it wasn’t.  Most of this has to do with the a Mr. Joji Kashihara, a referee so incompetent that he wouldn’t be able to officiate a game of rock paper scissors without calling a foul.  Between the constant whistling of non-fouls, whistling of real fouls, and general ineptitude, the game proceeded with a glacial pace at times with the players almost unwilling to go full steam out of fear that the play would just be whistled dead.  According to his Wikipedia entry (Japanese only), Kashihara is known for whistling too often, brandishing cards too often, and allowing the game to get out of control too easily.  He refereed the Urawa Reds-Manchester United friendly in ’05, as well as a Shonan Bellmare-Tokyo Verdy match in ’07 which saw 12 yellow cards and 2 ejections.

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned in the first half Tokyo were playing against 12 men.

The first half started with a bang as Tatsuya snuck in a fantastic header goal that seemed to set the pace for the day.  4 minutes later, however, Shimizu capitalized on a corner kick to get one back courtesy of Okazaki, who scored about 50 goals in NT play earlier this month.  Once again, Tokyo’s ineffectiveness at defending against the set play was plain for all to see, but the team fought back (against both S-Pulse and the ref) and gained control of the game back.

At 25′, a stunning substitution as Nagatomo was pulled out for Kenta Mukuhara.  It was later announced that Nagatomo had suffered a dislocated shoulder (!) during pre-game warmups.  The team has announced that it will take 3 weeks for him to fully heal but from what I understand they’re gonna tape him up and give him some Tylenol and push him onto the field next Tuesday.  In any case, Mukuhara did very well in Nagatomo’s stead so it could have been worse.

At about 35′, Tokyo scored what we thought was goal #2… until it was called back for offsides.  I need to see a replay to determine whether or not it was a valid offsides call, but by then the supporters were absolutely exasperated.  Fortunately 4 minutes later Shimizu defender Iwashita would give us a gift; in attempting to clear the ball he unintentionally headed it in for an own goal.  Thanks #5!  Tokyo would go into halftime with a 2-1 lead.

The second half featured less scoring but someone must have warned Kashihara that unless he started calling some fouls against Shimizu someone was gonna file a complaint, because the groans from the home end echoed those of the away end in the first half.  Tokyo basically managed to assert complete control of the game and displayed some of its signature passing and created a few more scoring chances that, sadly, didn’t work out.  Near the end of the game, lifetime Tokyo veteran Ryuji Fujiyama, who announced earlier this week that he would be leaving the team after 16 years with the organization, came on as a substitution much to the delight of the visiting crowd.  After 90 minutes the players were exhausted and a few limped to the visitor end, but the 3 points were ours.

With this victory, Tokyo is in 5th place:

1.  Kawasaki Frontale (55)
2. Kashima Antlers (54)
3. Gamba Osaka (51)
4. Shimizu S-Pulse (50)
5. FC Tokyo (49)

and not only are we in 5th place but stunningly, despite all of the problems this team has had to face over the course of the season, we are still in ACL contention.  More on that in the next post.  For now, back to flagmaking.

Match Report – J1R17 FCT 3-0 Nagoya Grampus

J.League Division 1 Week 17
First Half
2 – 0 Second Half
1 – 0 Final
3 – 0
July 12th 2009, 6:34PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 24,736
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 6 Yasuyuki Konno
DF 5 Yuto Nagatomo
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
GK 1 Seigo Narazaki
DF 32 Hayuma Tanaka
DF 2 Akira Takeuchi
DF 5 Takahiro Masukawa
DF 6 Shohei Abe
MF 13 Kei Yamaguchi
MF 14 Keiji Yoshimura
MF 10 Yoshizumi Ogawa
MF 8 Magnum
FW 11 Keiji Tamada
FW 9 Davi
 64' 27 Soutan Tanabe (for Hanyu)
77' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Ishikawa)
80' 24 Shingo Akamine (for Cabore)
Substitutes 45' 17 Yuki Maki (for Yoshimura)
63' 27 Sho Hanai (for Yamaguchi) 
69' 19 Keita Sugimoto (for Davi
 3' Ishikawa
34' Cabore
89' Suzuki
13' Davi  Ejections  


Last night's match at Ajinomoto Stadium was in many aspects a homecoming.  First in the most obvious sense of the word; the match was the first in nearly two months played at Ajinomoto  Stadium following a complete re-sodding of the pitch and repairs to the sprinkler system.  Second in the sense that the team playing in front of just under 25,000 fans last night has finally returned to where they were in 2008: playing nearly flawless soccer and ascending once again to dark horse status.  Though the sidelines were full of cameramen and video crews angling to get a once-in-a-lifetime shot of Naohiro Ishikawa delivering another goal, few in the media have highlighted the fact that Tokyo has now won 4 league matches in a row and has recovered from a dismal first third of the season to once again contend for an ACL bid.

The press didn't have to wait long; in the 3rd minute of play Nao recieved a header from Hirayama and proceeded to shred the Nagoya defensive line like a packet of pachinko hall tissues, stopping just inside the box for long enough to send a sharp grounder into the left side of the net.

With the supporters in a frenzy and Tokyo showing all the poise and confidence of a champion, Nagoya resorted to pettiness of the sort that we tend to expect from Urawa players.  Davi risked an ejection by arguing with the official after recieving a yellow for roughing Gonda in the box, and expressed his displeasure minutes later when FCT kicked the ball out of bounds following an injury.  Rather than kick the ball towards the opposing goalkeeper as is considered proper sportsmanship, Davi tapped the ball to the sideline, forcing an FC Tokyo throw-in.  This was about as civilized as Nagoya would play for the rest of the night, but Tokyo wouldn't rise to the bait and ended the match with a clean sheet.  As for Davi, he was neutralized by Bruno and Yonemoto to the point where he was substituted out midway through the second half.  His yellow card was the 4th of the season, ensuring that he will recieve a one-game suspension and will thus be absent for Wednesday's Nabisco Cup draw.

Tokyo put an exclamation point on the first half with a beautiful display of teamwork; Nao crossed the ball over to Hirayama, who laid in a solid shot that the goalkeeper stopped but could not get a hold of.  Cabore was waiting nearby for an all-too-easy kick-in.

Special notice should be given to Hirayama; although he's still not quite able to find the net his work ethic since he shaved his head has been stunning.  He may not get the headlines but Sota is helping to carry this team as much as any other player and even a bit more.

Nagoya attempted to fight back in the second half but shot its load too quickly by bringing in three substitutes in quick succession.  Shortly after Davi was substituted a collision happened in front of the Nagoya goal that soiled many pairs of underear in the stadium; mainly because  Ishikawa had attempted to drill the ball into the net with his leg fully extended.  Though he got up and walked away seemingly unharmed, Jofuku decided that the team's leading scorer had had enough adventure and danger for the night and Suzuki went in for Nao instead of for Cabore as had been planned. 

Nagoya player Sho Hanai did not get up, however, and was taken off the field due to injury leaving Nagoya shorthanded.  Unfortunately Tokyo tried to get too cutesy with its passing and without firestarters Nao or Cabore on the field the team seemed hesitant to attack at times.  Nagoya made its most threatening attacks of the night when they were shorthanded, but Gonda seemed to catch every ball that came his way.

Finally, Tatsuya Suzuki capped off the night in injury time with a goal similar to Ishikawa's at the start.

By The Numbers

5th place – Tokyo's standing after 17 games this season

10th place – Tokyo's standing after 17 games last season

+2 – Tokyo's goal difference after tonight's game, the first time it has been in positive territory all season

10 – Goals scored by Naohiro Ishikawa so far this season
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5 – Ishikawa's previous season high