Saturday, 9 May 2009

Agent Orange Reports: Squirrel Republic - The First Third

Since I only caught half of the Jubilo game today, I decided to discuss the state of the team. Let's go!

Are We Better Now Than We Were Last Year?

I honestly am not sure. Last year we were getting results with a squad that was pretty much intact from 2007. We only allowed thirteen goals in 1the first eleven games, the back four was the same in all of those games, and we put up four shut-outs. At the same time, we faced Gamba, Kashima and Urawa during a stetch where all three had ACL games in far away locations.

Our offense was based on the play of Denis Marques and fluky [might the word be "uncharacteristic"? - Ed.] performances from other players (Masato Saito's brace, Yosuke Kataoka's rocket). This year has seen solid offensive contributions from most of the front seven and an impressive three games in which three goals have been scored.

The one thing that differs between Yasuhiro Higuchi Omiya and Jang Wae Ryong Omiya has been the rate of line-up change. Higuchi was averse to making modifications, only tinkering with the midfield; Jang, on the other hand, has started different players in every position except left central defender and goalkeeper. The team was more stable last year but has been far more exciting in 2009.

Agent Orange Thinks

While the change frightens me, I think Jang has the team on the right track. The record doesn't show it, but I think this team would beat last year's team rather handily. The one player missing from the squad that I'd like to have back is actually Leandro. Part of Omiya's problem has been the failure of Mato Neretljak to mesh with another center back.

Omiya has historically had combinations of Japanese / foreign center backs who have anchored the backline. Starting with the legendary combination of Toninho and Seiichiro Okuno and continuing with Leandro and Daisuke Tomita - Omiya has been defined by this pairing. Mato is better than both Brazilians but finding the right guy to accentuate his game will be the key. Until Jang finds someone to consistently pair with big Croatian, we will struggle. Is it Kataoka? Tomita? Shunsuke Fukuda? Who knows, but we need to find it soon.

Who's On Jang's Hot List?

1. Naoki Ishihara - Deservedly so. Ishihara has possibly been the most consistent player on the squad. Even when the diminutive striker does not score, he contributes by getting fouls and making the hustle play. Ishihara is the bizarro Kota Yoshihara, doing everything through sheer effort and appearing as a direct opposite to "lucky boy". Maybe he should have to wear a goatee, like an evil twin (or would Yoshihara wear it? Hmm).

2. Shin Kanazawa - Kanazawa has been the engine of the team so far this season and the only constant in what has turned out to be a disappointment, i.e. the midfield. It's probably no coincidence that the worst performance for the squad happened when Kanazawa was out on red card disqualification.

3. Kohei Tokita - Bit of a surprise, but the kid is a hustle machine. One of Higuchi's favorites last year, he does the things that coaches like. Unfortunately it does not translate onto the field all of the time.

The Not List

1. Daisuke Tomita - The drop off between last year and this has been staggering. The vice-captain has been dropped in favor of Yosuke Kataoka. That should sum up his season right there.

2. Klemen Lavric - It would seem as though the big Slovenian would be a good fit for a team that likes to score off of corner kicks. I am not sure what the problems are between coach and player, but it seems as though he has fallen to the edges of game activity. If I had to guess, I would point to his lack of presence on defense but it could be anything.

3. Taishi Tsukamoto - It seems as though the young wingback has taken the brunt of the blame for the team's defensive woes. While his play on defense hasn't been the greatest (including one gaffe which led to a Franca goal), I still think Taishi has a lot more upside than others who have disappointed on a consistent basis and yet who still find time on the field, but my opinion is (obviously) not the important one.

Jubilo Game Notes

I only saw the second half. We didn't look awful, we didn't look great. It seemed like we were getting the build-up but missing on the last pass.

1. The wings were getting abused today. Lee Keun Ho is a special player. The last goal was him dribbling through three players and putting a shot in at a very difficult angle. If I had a vote he would be my MVP. Jubilo is not half the team without him.

2. Yoshihito Fujita nearly scored again, taking a shot that just missed rolling in. He had the nice pass to Chikara Fujimoto for his second goal of the season.

3. I'm not correct much, but I do have to pat myself on the back for suggesting that Chikara needs to move inside. Since the end of the FC Tokyo match, he has netted two goals in two games as the tip of the spear in the 4-3-1-2 system.

No stars today because I didn't catch the whole game.



Omiya Fan,  10 May 2009 at 21:39  

Case for the defence - I'm not sure we have one judging by the highlights from yesterday's game!

Looks like we missed out big time on Lee - what a goal he scored at the end.

If we aren't going to play Denis or Lavric and they are obviously on a lot of money - why don't we get someone else?

Like Agent Orange's idea about Leandro.

Anonymous,  10 May 2009 at 22:26  

I've seen two people now say the call against Uemoto was bad and I'm wondering what they are seeing because the guy looks back and throws his arm out at Ishihara's face.

The refs are bad but it seems like people are just piling on.

Omiya Fan,  16 May 2009 at 19:05  

Dead unlucky today - should have beaten them by several goals in quite a dominant display but undone by a lucky goal from Davi after he was set up by a mis-hit. 2 points dropped today in my opinion.

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