Monday, 24 August 2009

Agent Orange Reports: A Little Down

Sorry, it's been a long time since we last spoke.

Entering the post-break crush of games, Omiya had three very very winnable matches against lower tier opponents and came out of them with two points. Is it time to worry yet? The frustrating thing about those games was that in each one, a case could and should be made that we were the better team. In theory, the team is looking better than it has at any point in the entire season. However in practice, we still find ourselves in 14th place (possibly 15th if Vissel Kobe does what it's supposed to against an awful Oita Trinita side today).

This week was historical for a couple of reasons. First, it marked the the first time Ardija has ever lost to Yokohama F Marinos in a league match. A long time coming, but still painful nonetheless. Yuji Nakazawa then managed to hurt us even more by scoring an own goal for Kashiwa and breathing a little more life into their campaign to stay up. Gosh, sorry for offering you a ton of money and a chance to come home. Hope you go the way of the Seiichiro Maki. Then for the first time ever, we tied with JEF Chiba. After dominating them for most of the game. I know I'm gonna mark my calendar for that one.

However, we have a chance to make history again. This time it will have to be against Kashima Antlers. And we're gonna have to shake things up, for the following reasons:

1. We don`t have speed. Park Won Jae is out because of yellow card accumulation, Naoki Ishihara is MIA and Shin Kanazawa looks like he picked up a bad leg knock in Saturday`s battle.

2. We were dominated by their 4-4-2. Seriously, it wasn't a contest the last time we played them. They are better at 4-4-2 than us.

3. We have never beaten them in league play and a lot of times we haven't even come close.

But give me the job for a week and I can win! I have it all planned out. Our formation must be 4-3-3. The teams that have beaten the Antlers clog the middle. Sanfrecce Hiroshima plays a 3-6-1, which we don't and which clogs the middle. Albirex Niigata plays a 4-3-3, which we don't and which clogs the middle. Put the extra man in the middle and clog it up like an express train on the Saikyo sen. Pack in the middle. Formation won`t work without the right personnel, so here goes:

1. Koji Ezumi at goalkeeper (yes, I know it`s controversial, but I just have a feeling on this one).

2. The back four in my dream world would be Taishi Tsukamoto, Yosuke Kataoka, Daisuke Tomita and Yasuhiro Hato, because they seem to work well together and they have yet to yield a goal. I want to see Mato Neretljak at the libero position in the midfield because I think Kataoka is just starting to get into a groove at center back. However, he has not practiced there so let's put Mato in Kataoka's spot and switch Mato and Tomita. The line would look like Taishi - Tomita - Mato - Hato.

3. The inverse three would start with either Kataoka or a healthy Shin as defensive midfielder. The tricky part comes at the top of the midfield. I'm tempted to put Dudu in one of the two spots, but I'm not completely convinced he is in shape. So I have to go with Hayato Hashimoto and one other. My next choice would be Tomoya Uchida, but he is small and not strong: Kashima would kill him in the middle. I'll hold my nose and pick Chikara Fujimoto for the other spot. Actually, I think he could be successful in a more central role. He can't cross and always drifts more central role. He can't cross and always drifts to the middle, so putting him more central allows him to do what he does best - hold the ball in traffic.

4. The arrowhead of my attack would start with Rafael. He`s already provided a threat up top and has the ability to hold the ball in a crowd. He also provides a target for long balls. If Ishihara is healthy, I put him on the right wing and go with Uchida on the left. Both can cross the ball and are fast enough to get behind the defense.

5. If Ishihara can't go, I'm stuck with Kohei Tokita, Dudu and a collection of guys who haven't played in a long time... Dudu it is, with Masato Saito and Masahiko Ichikawa on the bench ready to come in at any time.

So, if I had my dream squad (with the players we actually have), it would look like this:

GK Ezumi
DF Tsukamoto
DF Kataoka
DF Tomita
DF Hato
LIB Neretljak
DMID Kanazawa
DMID Hashimoto
AMID Ishihara
AMID Uchida
FW Rafael

... with a bench of Chikara, Dudu, Yoshihito Fujita, Masa, Ichikawa, Shunsuke Fukuda and Takahiro Takagi.

Realistically, it will look like this:

GK Ezumi
DF Tsukamoto
DF Tomita
DF Neretljak
DF Hato
DMID Kataoka
CMID Fujimoto
CMID Hashimoto
AMID Uchida
FW Rafael

Although if I know Jang Wae Ryong, it will actually look like this:

GK Ezumi
DF Tokita
DF Kataoka
DF Neretljak
DF Hato
MF Fujimoto
MF Uchida
MF Hashimoto
MF Seo
FW Fujita
FW Rafael

... or it could be something completely different.

Other Thoughts

1. I hate Kumagaya. Possibly my least favorite place to watch a game besides Chofu. I hate FC Tokyo. I don't know why we just don't hold our annual Let's Get Our Taints Kicked by the standard-bearers of mediocrity in Japan's armpit. Every year we can make the Fauxcelonians trudge out to Kumagaya and wait for the one solitary bus to come in order to see their annual victory. We haven't beaten them in Saitama City so there is no home field advantage to speak of. Why not change it up. The best part of it is, if we're gonna lose, I don't have to go! No FC Tokyo plus No Kumagaya equals one fat happy little squirrel!

2. Yosuke Kataoka has possibly had his best run of play ever. He was very impressive and decisive in his play against both Jubilo and JEF Chiba. I'm getting to the point where I don't cringe when he plays.

3. It was great to see Masahiko Ichikawa back on the field. He looked rusty and a step slow, which is to be expected, but it was good to see him get out there again.

4. I thought the substitution pattern was rather odd in the JEF game. Why doesn`t Jang use all three subs? Especially when the team was visibly struggling to keep up. One more attacker could have gotten us three points.

5. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the consistently bad performance of referee Okada, who managed to bungle his job again. This time he was on our side, which was nice, but it's not fair. You can tell how he's going to call the game by the first card he hands out. If you have the misfortune of picking up the first yellow, your team won't get a call for the rest of the day.




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