Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Agent Orange Reports: I Just CAN Be Happy Today

I'm not exactly sure how to write this article today. Before going to the game, I had my anger all planned out. I was going to call this piece Golden Weak because I thoroughly expected another lackluster performance. Yasuhiro Hato was back, Yosuke Kataoka was in, we were going with a small line-up. Bile was in my throat, it was drizzly, I was surrounded by kids and old people - perfect ingredients for a blistering column about our incompetence.

Then something funny happened. We played well. Really well. In fact, that first half was the best I've seen an Omiya team play. Ever. We pressed well. The defense was perfect. We got the ball out on the fly at every opportunity. The forwards were aware and making dangerous runs. Everything was great.

My two favorite plays of the game were pretty much insignifigant in the grand scheme of the game, but they showed something promising. First was a play to Hato, who usually would hold the ball up and kill momentum. Instead he did a quick and subtle backheel to Park Won Jae, who ran with the ball and set up Yoshihito Fujita for a dangerous chance on goal. It was unexpected and nice and showed that the young Korean and the veteran can, with time, hook up and make a great partnership.

The second play was a ball to Kataoka in a crowd. Instead of hesitating or forcing a bad pass to someone, he made a quick and decisive clear out to the other side of the field for an Oita throw-in. Didn't result in a score or make highlight reels anywhere. Which is fine when it comes to a central defender. I'm not looking for Cristiano Ronaldo back there, I'd be happy with Daisuke Tomita version 2007. That back four is not my first choice. By a long shot. However if they can play a solid ninety minutes game in and game out, then I'm fine with them. Perfect game today from the back four. Golden.

Game Notes

1. Great to see Fujita get on the board today. He could have had three or four if the finishing was there. Dangerous all day long and created many chances. The pairing between him and Naoki Ishihara is starting to bear fruit.

2. Speaking of Ishihara, he is adding something that we have lacked for a good long time. He has the ability to win fouls from the opposition.

3. The addition of Park and Tomoya Uchida has not only helped the offense, it's helping the defense as well. I think the one thing that we lost when Masahiko Ichikawa went out was someone to cover for Hayato Hashimoto and Chikara Fujimoto when they got caught on the sides. Park and Uchida are both fast enough to get back on defense. When Chikara is on the wing, he tends to drift to the other side of the field, leaving the wingback isolated. I think that was the difference between the previous games where we lost and the last three halves of play.

4. The second half wasn't as enjoyable for me because the team lost the emphasis to attack and get numbers. Uchida and Fujimoto were both happy to take long shots instead of making the extra pass. The forwards were working hard but the mids weren't trailing on plays like in the first half. All three of the goals had at least two guys in the box. The second half saw people jogging when we had isolations on the corner.

5. I would have liked to see Klemen Lavric or Shunsuke Fukuda brought in earlier, to see what a big target could do with good crosses.

I Don't Usually Do This, part deux

Oita is as bad as their record. The elbow by Taikai Uemoto which led to his red card was a perfect illustration of the lack of discipline and utter frustration that Trinita is going through. I know a lot has been made about how they have gone through a Job-like spell of misfortune with injuries, but we here in Omiya have had our share as well, to wit:

Denis Marques - missed a month with leg injuries. Still is not 100%
Yoshiyuki Kobayashi - missed the first part of the season with injuries
Klemen Lavric - missed games due to back injuries
Yasuhiro Hato - missed two games due to a twisted ankle
Park Won Jae - missed the first part of the season with a leg injury
Masahiko Ichikawa - out for three months with a leg injury
Daigo Kobayashi - loaned to Staebek right before preseason opens

There is a lot of young talent at Oita (possibly only behind Urawa and Sanfrecce) but the man in charge is not letting it bloom. Maybe that is what's adding to the frustration.

Three Stars

1. Yosuke Kataoka - happy 100 games. This was your best

2. Yasuhiro Hato - happy 33rd birthday

3. The team - they played as one, so they all get the star today

Happy! Happy!! Happy!!!



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