Monday, 23 November 2009

Agent Orange Reports - Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The Tohoku region reminded me a lot of Pennsylvania. The eastern side was green and lush with leaves turning from green to hues of gold, red and yellow. The west was drab and gray, a lot like the central part of the state. Unfortunately, Yamagata lies in the west.

Montedio is known for a chant to the beat of the legendary Wizard Of Oz ditty Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I'll talk more about that later, but on the way I saw three rainbows, and signs saying that you should watch out for monkeys on the road. No monkeys were spotted, but while I was at a rest stop, I did see a family of spiders about as big as 500-yen coins. A farmer who was getting ready to kill me and eat me for dinner was stopped from doing so when one of the spiders made a fabulous web, enabling me to win first prize at the fair. Thank you, Charlotte, I love you and your glorious webs!

We finally arrive at Yamagata ND Soft Stadium, which sounds eerily like a website dedicated to erotic dwarf snuff films. One of the Montedio faithful decided to strike up a conversation with me and an unnamed friend of GGOA. He was a bit intense, to say the least. If I had a list of people I'd rather not talk to, "Guy who adamantly shouts innocuous points while facing you but without making eye contact at all and talking out of the side of his mouth" would be right at the top of my list. However, I was able to use my "Gaijin who doesn't understand you and so will walk away without saying a word, leaving his friends to deal with you on their own" card. I'm not proud of what I did, but I would do it again in a second.

Inside the stadium is a PA system which is a little too loud for my tastes. Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Yeah, they have three versions of the song, including one 80s Joe Satriani synth rock version and one straight out of the Mannheim Steamroller catalogue. The worst one, though, is a sickly sweet, slightly creepy interpretation by a little girl wistfully whining out the song. And if you were wondering what actually is to be found somewhere over the rainbow, it's ninety minutes of bunkerball.

I guess I could beat this Oz thing to death by saying that Montedio performed the role of the Cowardly Lion, not attempting to try any shots without the aid of referee involvement, while Omiya had to be the Scarecrow... actually just one, who makes the decisions. Then again, maybe he was trying for the 0-0 draw, which would make our own Jang Wae Ryong the Tinman... with no heart.

Would that make Kohei Tokita Toto? And will we truly find out that there's no place like home? Because next week, the Wicked Witch of Kashiwa ventures down the Noda Line in an attempt to take our... AWWW SCREW IT, I HATE THAT MOVIE [Thank God - F]!

What's To Come

Arguably the biggest Noda Line Battle in the history of Noda Line Battles - and, I suppose, Planet Earth - takes place on Saturday. Two weeks ago, Kashiwa Reysol managed to dust off the corpse of Franca. He in turn has scored three in two games. Orange seems to stir him into action as well, in that he has scored four of his seven goals agains teams doffed in orange. Two of the others were against Urawa Reds and Jubilo Iwata, teams who play in the same prefectures as teams who play in orange [AO, this is sensational research - F]. Just like a bull, or maybe a killer bee, color sets him off. I don't hate Franca so much as I'm put off by his very essence. I dunno if it's the fact that he is the highest-paid player in the J-League, or the old woman wrap that he dons around his head, or the fact that he only shows up for half a season. I can't explain it.

What I really don't like is the fact that the tabloids are already trumpeting The Kashiwa Miracle two weeks before it's happened. I think their couple of wins have been nice, but I'm not going to go so far as to call them a miracle. Beating a pair of disinterested teams killing time before their next Emperor's Cup games isn't curing cancer. And really, if this Lazarus crap is happening every year, is it really a miracle? If Omiya wins next week, wouldn't that be the miracle - having relegation decided a full week before the end of the season?

The bottom line is this. If Omiya can't manage to scrape together forty points in a season, they don't deserve to be in J1. If they can't win ten games, it's not tragic if they get dropped: it's deserved. And if the old people aren't willing to cough up 500 yen to come to J2 games next year, screw them. They can take the Noda Line down to Kashiwa to witness The Miracle.

What Happened

Not much can really be said about the Yamagata game. Jang played it safe, going with Daisuke Tomita along the back four and Yoshihito Fujita playing as a more defensive target. Surprisingly, Tokita was put into Chikara Fujimoto's attacker position and Fujimoto came off the bench. While I love Fujimoto coming off the bench, I'm not so crazy about Tokita starting as a midfielder - or playing more than ten minutes of any given match, for that matter. Fujita did a decent job as the surprise starter over Rafael. I'm not sure why Jang went with that line-up. I guess he was keeping his two playmakers in reserve in case Omiya fell behind, but it seems like the game was winnable.

That's the thing that scares me about the next two matches. Kashiwa is playing to win because they have to, Oita is playing to win because they have nothing to lose. We, on the other hand, are playing not to lose and have come out pretty tamely on offense. Kawasaki is spinchter-clenching because that's what Kawasaki does best: choke when it matters. All that being said, I think we'll manage to eke out a result and just barely survive so Fujimoto can brush off that famous, "We're disappointed about this year but next year we're going to do our best, again," line.

Just like Wizard of Oz, a timeless classic played every year... so I can retch.



si tu 27 November 2009 at 02:04  

A cracking read as usual. Great blog, and good luck against Kashiwa. I read this J-League stuff for a punting angle, but I do enjoy it. Especially the away day tales. Having had similar experiences in China, the 'innocuous side of the mouth guy' made me chuckle.

Bring on the bore draw.

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