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[Match Report] J1R1 FC Tokyo 1:0 (0:0) Yokohama F. Marinos

J.League Division 1 Week 1
First Half

0 – 0

Second Half

1 – 0

Final

1 – 0

March 6th 2009, 2PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 29,011
GK Gonda

DF Mukuhara

DF Konno

DF Morishige

DF Nagatomo

MF Nakamura

MF Tokunaga

MF Hanyu

MF Matsushita

FW Suzuki

FW Hirayama

Starting Members

GK Ikura

DF Fujiya

DF Nakazawa

DF Ogura

DF Tanaka

MF Hyodo

MF Kanai

MF Kano

MF Yamase

FW Hasegawa

FW Watanabe

64' Kajiyama (Hanyu)

69' Ishikawa (Nakamura)

76' Akamine (Suzuki)

Substitutes 61' Sakada (Kano)

79' Shimizu (Hasegawa)

90+2' Bastianini (Kanai)

90+1' Hirayama Goals
Cautions
Ejections

Report

It was rainy, it was wet, it was a little cold, it was windy, it was miserable: why not start the season? A day removed from temperatures in the low 70s and cloudless sunny skies, FC Tokyo and Yokohama F. Marinos played in front of just over 29,000 fans who braved the elements to come to Ajinomoto Stadium and kick off J.League's 2010 season. Tokyo had to manage with the loss of midfielder Takuji Yonemoto to a torn ACL and midfielders Kajiyama and Ishikawa still not ready to play a full 90. Yokohama was not only still waiting for Shunsuke Nakamura's return but lost defender Naoki Matsuda to injury. Regardless of who was in the lineup, though, it was time for that old ditty to be sung at Ajinomoto for the first time in over 3 months.

Now, as far as the actual match is concerned, well, there's a whole lot less to be impressed with. After Hirayama teasingly hit the post in the opening minutes, neither team could really establish a rhythm. Passes missed, balls falling short of their intended receiver, and generally sloppy play to suit the sloppy weather. Both teams had a couple decent scoring chances but neither threatened; If you had TiVo'd the match, I would suggest skipping ahead one hour to get to the second half.

The second half is where it got interesting. Yokohama definitely looked more threatening and created some hairy situations, but Tokyo managed to stave them off. With a poised Gonda between the posts and a back line consisting of two current NT players (Konno and Nagatomo), a star defender with NT experience (Morishige), and a more-than-able third year player (Mukuhara), this was not the same back line that gave up 4 goals to Albirex Niigata on Opening Day last year.

While Tokyo was holding defensively, the offense didn't kick back into gear until roughly the 70th minute, when Naohiro Ishikawa tagged in for Nakamura, taking the field for the first time since his season-ending injury against Kashiwa Reysol last October to a stadium-wide ovation. Immediately, Tokyo showed signs of life, pressing the attack and getting closer to Yokohama's goal than they had for most of the game. Akamine went in for Suzuki seven minutes later, an indication that Jofuku intended for his team to play for 3 points.

One highlight of the game was seeing Matsushita, picked up from Albirex Niigata in the offseason, and his free-kicking abilities. As anyone following Tokyo last season is well aware of, the only thing Tokyo was worse at than defending against the set play was taking advantage of their own set play. Matsushita's skills as a player were a bit shaky, but his two free kicks were impeccable and both had the potential to result in goals. When Matsushita and Ishikawa both positioned themselves to take a free kick closer to the end of the game, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only Tokyo supporter who got goosebumps.

However, with the clock hitting 90 minutes and 3 minutes of additional time, it seemed like both teams were just about resigned to taking home one point.

Then Akamine dished the ball off to Ishikawa and the race was on.

Go on, watch it again. In fact here's a different angle

After the goal… no, wait, fuck it, I'm going to enjoy this. Here's Ishikawa's little hurdle again in slow motion so you can see him absolutely own Yokohama's Shohei Ogura. This is the soccer equivalent of when a player dunks over a defender, teabagging him in the process. You just can't get over it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGGlt2khjo4

Finally, here's a slightly different angle. Put this next to the first angle and wear some funny glasses and you can watch Yokohama's back line get served in 3D.

Okay, I'm finished now. After that it was simply holding off a halfhearted attack by Yokohama and waiting for the ref to blow the final whistle.

After the game, 7 of us including two regular commenters to this blog walked down to Chofu where we found… that Kenny's Irish Pub wasn't open because of a private party (on game day! The nerve!) But we did find an izakaya and held what was basically the first official meeting of TOKYO DAMACY 1999! Everyone had a blast and I hope we have many more similar meetings in the future.

On to Urawa!

Quotes

“We may not have played so well, but the defense focused when it needed to and helped win the game.” – Ryuhei Tokunaga

“We didn't possess the ball for long enough to play how we want to play and that's something we'll consider going into next week.” – Toshihiro Matsushita

“After last year's opener [1-4 defeat to Albirex Niigata] I just wanted to get out of the locker room and go home as quickly as possible, but this year I want to sit down with other players and talk about the game. I feel like I've matured in a lot of ways since last year.” – Shuichi Gonda

“While [Ishikawa and Hirayama's goal-scoring play] was important, I'm more satisfied with how the team didn't fall apart even when we couldn't get a solid attack started. As far as the goal is concerned, Kajiyama and Ishikawa were only on for a short period of time but they did their job well. After that, it was just a matter of Hirayama getting into position to take the shot. I want to see Hirayama's accuracy increase, but more importantly I want him to put his body where it's needed to create plays, and he was able to accomplish that today.” – Hiroshi Jofuku

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Season Opener tomorrow! Umbrellas, lineups, and captains

All you need to know about tomorrow's match vs. Yokohama FM, in bullet point form:

  • Shunsuke Nakamura will not be playing, but apparently TBS will have a fixed camera getting his reaction or so say people on Twitter
  • It's going to rain, so bring an umbrella – particularly red or blue umbrellas if you have one!
  • Expected lineup tomorrow: Gonda; Mukuhara, Morishige, Konno, Nagatomo; Nakamura, Tokunaga, Matsushita, Hanyu; Hirayama, Suzuki
  • Kajiyama and Ishikawa will probably be on the bench but could show up in the second half
  • More Twitter rumors but Tokunaga may be the captain for this season?
  • Omiya tickets on sale tomorrow at 10AM! These are expected to go as fast if not faster than tickets to the Urawa game so buy early!
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From Tokyo To The World: TOKYO DAMACY 1999 Begins!

(日本語の大要:この度、国際交流向きなペーニャ「東京魂1999」を誕生します!詳細は日本語の良くある質問ページに参照してください。初集合は、3月6日対横浜FMの開幕戦後に調布駅であるKenny's Pubです。興味がある方は以下で書いてあるメールまで連絡してください。宜しくお願いします!)

With J.League less than 2 weeks away, I figure it's about time to make public (or at least official) what I hope to be this site's big initiative for the 2010 season.

On Sunday evening, I attended a meeting at EL LOCO in Tokyo. This meeting didn't produce any answers (nor was that its intention), but was instead meant to ask an important question:

Where do Tokyo's supporters go from here?

With the 3rd-highest attendance in J1 (nearly 26,000 per game in 2009, trailing Niigata and Urawa), top-tier finishes in the last two years, and a recent championship that was one of the fastest sellouts in recent memory. Yet, when 26,000 attend each Tokyo home game, over 20,000 seats are still empty in the cavernous Ajinomoto Stadium.

The unfortunate reality is that a capital team in a capital city has to compete with… a lot of other things in the capital. In Tokyo's case there are are two professional baseball teams, hundreds of livehouses, clubs, and bars (any one of them running an event on a particular night), movie theaters, and some minor-league pissant soccer club that wears green uniforms. There are any number of reasons as to why those 20,000 seats are empty, the question is what can be done to fill them.

I've been supporting Tokyo for nearly 3 years now and recently received my fourth SOCIO pin in the mail; the team is responsible for a lot of friendships I have made and incredible experiences I have had since I came to Japan. I made this site on a dare from users over at The Rising Sun, it's now taken on a mission to spread news of FC Tokyo to English-speaking fans both in the city and around the world. Supporting the team has been a life-altering experience and I've always encouraged my friends and colleagues to join me behind the goal. I believe that while we have yet to take part in international competition, Tokyo has the potential to be a world-class club team and more supporters outside of Japan should be paying attention to what we're up to.

To that end, beginning near the end of last season I started considering how I could start to do this on a greater scale. The obvious answer was, much like the S-Pulse UK Ultras or the now-defunct (?) MOIST, to start a supporter's group aimed towards non-Japanese supporters, especially those who might not consider supporting a Japanese team when they have a team back home cheer for.

But of course, that would be way too exclusive; and would defeat the purpose of a supporter's group: to have fun, to make friends, and to share in victory and defeat together. So, in the spirit of Tokyo's international community, obviously an international supporter's group was called for.

Therefore, after consulting with several friends and supporters on both sides of the pacific, my previously-stated goal of having an internationally-oriented supporter's group will move forward under the name TOKYO DAMACY 1999. I've applied for and received penya status from the club; we're #74.

For now, the goal is to start gathering regularly at the stadium or after matches and then hopefully move towards more proactive support (away trips, making flags/banners, you name it).

I've written up FAQs in both English and Japanese, those can be found here (or on the TOKYO DAMACY 1999 tab now included in the top navigation):

TOKYO DAMACY 1999 FAQ – English

TOKYO DAMACY 1999 FAQ – 日本語

My idea for what I hope this penya to become is included in these FAQs, so hopefully once you read it you'll understand the possibility of what we can accomplish (and will want to join in on the fun!)

To start with, our first official gathering will take place on March 6th, after the Yokohama match. The location will probably be Kenny's Irish Pub in Chofu, just because it's so close to the stadium and will probably have enough room for all of us (whether we're 5 or 15). If you're interested in attending, leave a comment or drop me an email at tokyodamacy1999@aishiteru-tokyo.com. Exact details (including times and directions) will be posted here in the near future.

I'm not quite sure how big this will become, but I know how big it can become and how big supporters I've talked to believe it will become. I hope to meet their expectations.

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Match Report: J1 Round 12: Yokohama F. Marinos vs. FC Tokyo

J.League Division 1 Week 12
First Half
0 – 0

Second Half
0 – 1

Final
0 – 1

May 16th 2009, 7PM Kickoff at Nissan Stadium (Yokohama, Kanagawa) Attendance 20,349
GK 21 Hiroki Ikura
DF 5 Yusuke Tanaka
DF 7 Yuzo Kurihara
DF 22 Yuji Nakazawa
DF 13 Takanobu Komiyama
MF 10 Koji Yamase
MF 3 Naoki Matsuda
MF 17 Shingo Hyodo
FW 14 Kenta Kano
FW 9 Yazuma Watanabe
FW 11 Daisuke Sakata
Starting Members
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno
DF 6 Yasuyuki 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
70′ 19 Manabu Saito (for Daisuke Sakata)
70′ 20 Kota Mizunuma (for Kenta Kano)
77′ 15 Kim Kun-Hoan (for Kazuma Watanabe)
Substitutes 50′ 14 Hokuto Nakamura (for Yohei Kajiyama)
73′ 19 Yohei Otake (for Shingo Akamine)
85′ 7 Satoru Asari (for Tatsuya Suzuki)
Goals 62′ Hokuto Nakamura
8′ Yusuke Tanaka
52′ Takanobu Komiyama
Cautions
Ejections

Report

With a cool breeze blowing in from the bay, the weather was perfect at Nissan Stadium as FC Tokyo traveled to take on Yokohama F. Marinos in a Saturday-night clash.

With Cabore and Ishikawa out with injury, Jofuku opted to put Akamine up front with FC Tokyo’s resident monk, the newly-skinheaded Sota Hirayama.  At midfield were regulars Kajiyama and Hanyu along with Yonemoto and Suzuki, and on defense was another slight switch; Nagatomo started on the right side instead of his usual left while Bruno and Konno held ground in the center.

Hirayama seemed intent to prove his seemingly newfound devotion to higher play, racing to the ball and fighting for several headers in the first half.  Both teams struggled to find their rhythm but it seemed that Tokyo had something resembling offensive control for most of the first half.  While Gonda had no problem with the few shots that did come his way, he somewhat disconcertingly seemed a bit unsure of himself when it came to clearing, at times taking several seconds longer to consider where to punt the ball than anyone behind the goal was comfortable with.

The second half started with a Tokyo attack stifled by dodging officiating – with the line judge pointing adamantly towards the corner indicating that Tokyo deserved a corner kick, the referee ignored the protest of the players as he urged Marinos goalkeeper  Hiroki Ikura to take the goal kick, stifling Tokyo’s momentum.

5 minutes into the second half, Jofuku made the call everyone was anticipating as he substituted Hokuto Nakamura for an injured Yohei Kajiyama.  Following a longer than expected recovery from an injury, this was Nakamura’s first appearance in an FC Tokyo uniform as well as his first J.League game in roughly two and a half years (when Avispa Fukuoka lost the 2006 promotion/division series to Vissel Kobe).  Both the fans and the team (particularly Nakamura’s former teammate Hirayama) seemed to gain a second wind as Tokyo again pressed on with the attack.

10 minutes later, a Tokyo corner kick set the stage for the most dramatic score all season.   The ball sailed over the heads of three players and seemingly landed at the feet of Hirayama in the penalty box, who somehow got it to Nakamura, who blasted in a shot from the top of the box that kissed the left post and went in for the score.  Matsu over at the Rising Sun claims that Hirayama, in a rare display of teamwork, passed the ball to Nakamura as opposed to taking a shot for himself and missing wide like he always does.  Perhaps I’m underestimating the average pro player’s level of self-awareness in that sort of situation, but I’m not entirely convinced that Hirayama’s actions were anything but reflex and nerves.  In any case, he did have the self-awareness necessary to Get The Hell Out Of The Way when Nakamura took his shot, and that’s good enough for me.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s the instant replay:

Tokyo continued to press the attack for the next 20 minutes or so, including a couple great chances that were thwarted either by solid goalkeeping by Iwata or hesitancy by the Tokyo strikers, particularly Hanyu on one agonizing sequence.

Late in the match, FCT seemed to tire and Yokohama countered one last time, culminating in a superb display of reflexes by Gonda.  From then on it was all about clock-killing and Tokyo eventually took a win and three points, ending the weekend in 9th place.

Quotes

“My old high school teammate (MF 17) Shingo Hyogo is on F. Marinos, so there was certainly a feeling of not wanting to lose.  I came into the game as a somewhat forward position so I definitely wanted to score.  I’m very happy that I got the goal and I’m incredibly pleased that we won due to my goal.  From now on my target is to be able to play from the beginning of the match.” ~ Hokuto Nakamura


“We haven’t been playing winning football in the last few matches so both the players and myself considered today’s game a must-win and that’s how they comported themselves on the pitch.  Through the first 10 games we gave up the most goals in J.League, through the next 10 games I want us to give up the fewest.  To accomplish that won’t just take improving our defense, but also extending our posession time and finishing our attack.

“Thanks to Nakamura’s shot we were able to take home three points and as a team we’re certainly thankful for that, but if you look at his ability we’d like to see him get a 2nd goal as well.  His defense and his physical strength still need improvement so I don’t want him to feel satisfied yet.” ~ Hiroshi Jofuku



Match Preview: J1 Week 12, Yokohama F. Marinos vs. FC Tokyo

May 16th 2009, 7PM Kickoff at Nissan Stadium (Yokohama, Kanagawa)

J1 Competition Record: Yokohama FM 6 wins, 5 draws, FC Tokyo 7 wins

Preview

Due to unavoidable circumstances over the last couple weekends, today’s match will be the first for me in about a month.  While I’m not exactly the most optimistic given how our season has gone so far, that’s why the play the game and there’s still opportunity for Tokyo to come back and make a strong effort this season.

Unfortunately, we’ll be without two of our greatest assets: prolific goalscorer Naohiro Ishikawa is out with injury, as is striker Cabore.  This will undoubtedly weaken our already-decimated offense, which just hasn’t played with the confidence it carried all last season.  As a result, Akamine, Hirayama, and Kondo will have to step it up on offense… which they haven’t done so well with all season.

Jofuku is attempting to tweak positions even further by starting Nagatomo on the right side, with yet-to-suit-up Nakamura having displayed great poise as a left SB in practice.  Hokuto will join the team lineup for the first time tonight, likely coming off the bench.

[Match Preview] Aishiteru Tokyo Returns! FCT vs. Yokohama F. Marinos (J1R19 07.26.08 @ Ajisuta)

Ohayooooooo gozaimasu!

It’s been a long, long couple of months, readers, but now that an unfortunate travel schedule, the necessary needs of others (no, my girlfriend would not let me take her to the Osaka game for her birthday, despite my best attempts at begging) and a series of away games have kept me pretty much completely out of the FC Tokyo loop, I’m back.

…and look at the mess that’s been made in my absence.

Since the break, FC Tokyo has gone from third place to 9th, winless in the last five games with three draws and two losses.  The draws, all 1-1, came to newly-English-managed JEF Chiba, Gamba Osaka (where former FC Tokyo striker Lucas scored the goal for the opposition), and upstarts Kyoto Sanga, when a lost time score by Akamine salvaged a point.  The losses came to league leaders Kashima (4-1) and Urawa (2-0) in what have been described as spirited games but, for some reason or another, FC Tokyo has not been able to capitalize on the myriad of chances it tends to have during games.

What else is new.

In addition, FC Tokyo lost to Oita on the home leg of the Nabisco Cup Quarterfinal, meaning that to force a shootout FC Tokyo would have to at least win in Oita, and win by two goals or more to move to the next round on aggregate.  Times are tough for Tokyo, but given how crowded the top of the standings are (FC Tokyo is but 8 points away from current leaders Kashima) and how much things have shifted since the break (Kashiwa in 5th? Omiya in 14th and 4 points from the relegation playoff? JEF in last plac— oh, well, guess some things haven’t changed) and how there are still 16 matches left in the season, FC Tokyo can still rise to the top.

Now summer is upon us, and games are being held at 6 and 7PM in order to keep the fans from dying of heatstroke while waiting for kickoff (although how effective this actually is can be up for debate).  Tonight’s match, the first home game of the second half of the season, will give the blue&red prime opportunity to begin their comeback against a Yokohama F.Marinos squad that is obviously in a state of disarray, with a new manager having been hired after the team fell into the relegation zone.

On the FC Tokyo side, Ishikawa, Nagatomo, and Hanyu have recovered enough from injuries to become reliable starters again, and Jofuku has enough faith in Hirayama to put him out as a starter as well.  Emerson, Otake, and Akamine have become Tokyo’s chosen substitutes, but Akamine’s last-gasp goal against Kyoto may earn him a spot on the starting eleven today.

So, what needs to happen for a win?  Tokyo needs to get the ball into the goddamned net.  Simple as that.  They have been befuddled in the last few weeks by shots missed by a hair, shots denied by the crossbar, shots that weren’t shots, you name it, even more so than usual. That must stop and it must stop tonight.

This evening’s match will feature fireworks at halftime, here’s hoping that Tokyo can bring some to the field as well.