Sunday, 12 July 2009

Agent Orange Reports: Sometimes

Really sometimes you just have to shrug you shoulders and say, "Good job," to the team that just beat you. Don't get me wrong, we weren't awful against the Antlers last night by any means. There were a couple of good chances in front of the net, but for the most part Kashima just showed why they are champions.

They do everything well. They control the ball well. They pass well. They have good spacing. They don't turnover the ball much. They shoot well. They trail well. Most importantly, they foul really well. Usually, fouling is based on a mistake or a sign of weakness - but with them, it felt like they had fouling set as a part of the gameplan. They shut down Naoki Ishihara with good tactical fouls that stunted the tempo and were out of the range of the free kicks of Taishi Tsukamoto and Hayato Hashimoto. They absolutely controlled the middle with the play of Mitsuo Ogasawara.

I'm still in awe. I went into that game thinking that we had no chance for a win. Most of the people I spoke with weren't confident about a win. We were proven right.

The two things that puzzled me were why we didn't go 4-3-3 against them and why didn't we make subs earlier. For the most part, the formation was like a donut. Neither Hashimoto or Yosuke Kataoka offered much in the run of play. Chikara Fujimoto was back to ineptitude and was rightly pulled off in the 50th minute. Albirex was successful with 4-3-3 against Kashima and if you are going to persist with Kataoka as a starter, the defensive midfield spot is perfect for him, because it limits his decision making while giving him back-up on the defensive end. It also allows Mato Neretljak to push forward without isolating Daisuke Tomita.

To be fair, Kashima did get the benefit of some hometown calls. They called Yasuhiro Hato on a hand check but let Ishihara absolutely get pummeled by Daiki Iwamasa all night. But they are the champs and tell me one league where the champs don't get calls, in any sport in the world.

Beautiful stadium. Good atmosphere. Great nabe. Nice match. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been a win.

Game Notes

1. Mr 301 - last night, not so much.

2. The defense had another solid outing. Tomita missed a clear that led to Shinzo Koroki's beautiful header to an open Marquinhos (who moments earlier looked like he had a separated shoulder).

3. What happened to our depth? Does it seem like the bench is now Kohei Tokita and pray for victory? I will say that Tokita is getting very good at getting fouls in dangerous positions.

4. I am dreading to see who gets sacrificed for the inept play of Fujimoto and the hole left by Kataoka and Hashimoto. Because Kataoka and Fujimoto will start next week. Guaranteed.

Three Stars

1. Mato Neretljak - Even though I've never played the sport, I can see the contributions this guy gives game in and game out. Why he wasn't named to the JOMO All-Star team is beyond me. Would have loved that goal that he just missed on.

2. Naoki Ishihara - Absolutely worked his butt off to get some chances. Man he was knocked around all game, but he fought.

3. Koji Ezumi - Not at fault on either goal and did some nice work on saves. He keeps playing well and we will get a result next week.

And Speaking Of Next Week

The team du jour comes in next week to annoy the crap out of me. I have seen us play FC Tokyo seven times and except for a glorious Leandro run, we lose constantly. I have never seen Omiya score a goal at home against FC Tokyo. We lost earlier this season on two awful Kataoka mistakes and a golazo. We lose in a variety of different ways to them:

1. Awful offsides non-call, check - 3-1 loss last year.

2. Absolute pasting after a short rest week and a road trip to Osaka, check - 3-0 last year.

3. Catastrophic pasting, check - 2-0 home opener against them in 2007.

4. Boring, boring 1-0 loss played in that toilet Komaba, check - 1-0 loss.

5. Boring, boring 1-0 loss with a man advantage played in that toilet Komaba, check - 1-0 loss in 2005.

We created the Naohiro Ishikawa monster and now we must kill it. If there is any justice in this world, we will beat FC Tokyo so bad that their tanuki dies. Nobody who starts Kenny G as a center back should be allowed to win, ever.

Orange! Please God smite the heathen Tokyo scum in the most embarrassing way possible on the 18th (the blue and red ones, not the green ones... I don't care about them)!! Football!!!



dokool 16 July 2009 at 20:17  


...ah, who am I kidding, I'm pretty sure I made a similar comment when we signed him.

If you want I can bring some lube with me to NACK5 on Saturday, it won't get rid of all the pain but you won't be limping as much afterward.

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