Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Agent Orange: The Second Dumbest Thing I've Read This Week

Our fearless leader Jang Wae Ryong pitched in with this in the Japan Times after the Kashima game on Saturday: "It's the second game we've lost in a row, but we were playing the champions and I'm happy with the concentration and spirit we showed," said Omiya manager Jang Wae Ryong. "That said, football is a game of skill, and Antlers have got more of that than we have."

I'm not saying the gist of what he's saying is wrong. As a matter of fact I agree with everything he says here. My problem is with the messenger, not the message. Of all the quotes I've read on the game, he is the only one who had any say in the makeup of the team. 17 of the 28 squad members were his (and Haruo Yuuki's) choices.

When I saw our midfield being handled by the more skilful Kashima side, I thought to myself, "Wow... maybe we should have addressed this in the offseason." Actually not really. We've been harping on about the weakness of the midfield for a good year now, but Jang is just starting to realize this, I suppose.

I'm guessing that the next revelation will be that using our third international spot and our Asian player spot on an injury-prone striker from the K-League and a 19-year-old project who has the first touch of Edward Scissorhands and may or may not be a Jang family member (I have no proof of this, but when you pose for a picture wearing a Seo Yong Duk jersey in your team's monthly magazine, it just makes me wonder) isn't the best of plans.

Back in the Japan Times, Jang continues with this pearl of wisdom: "I'm sure we'll have more of a chance when we get our injured players back. Until then, we'll just have to make do."

Team selection and not realizing that we were lacking in depth before the season started aside, if you happen to be one of the players who step in for the injured Rafael, Kazuhiro Murakami or Chikara Fujimoto and you read this, I imagine you have gotta be psyched! Yeah, I'm going to be a band aid for a team that is badly leaking out talent. I'm pumped.

Let's have fun with word change, shall we: "I'm sure we'll have more of a chance when we get a manager who has the capability to see possible future pitfalls and adapt to them accordingly. Until then, we'll just have to make do by hoping that Mato Neretljak can singlehandedly carry us to a couple of results, as well as praying for one or two fortuitous calls." See what I did?

The Game Itself

It was physical, which is expected in a game against Kashima. It was sloppy, which is totally to be expected when you take out two of Omiya's best offensive players and ballhandlers and replace them with a combination of Tomoya Uchida, Shusuke Tsubouchi and a pair of little-used subs. Add a brand new formation to that equation and you get the performance that was on display on Saturday.

I must give Jang credit - his changing to 4-1-4-1 was a good strategy. He also has found the key to competing with Kashima. In previous matches, the Antlers pounded us in the middle and got out on the wings and outran us. For a while on Saturday, we were able to keep them under control by jamming the wings and funneling all attacks inward to the stronger part of our defense. It wasn't a perfect plan and Kashima was able to break down Mato and Yuki Fukaya on a couple of occasions. The combination of Shinzo Koroki and Marquinhos blasting shots in places nowhere near the goal and Takashi Kitano putting in a solid performance kept us in the game until the end.

Hayato Hashimoto was adequate, Uchida less so. I thought that not bringing in Takuya Aoki or Yoshihito Fujita late in the game was a mistake. We needed more physical players late in the contest and Jang went small. That was evident late when Masahiko Ichikawa took an elbow to the face from Daiki Iwamasa in the box, causing the diminutive striker to do a pretty fair impression of Wile E Coyote running into an anvil. Not quite sure why Jang didn't go with the bigger Fujita or even Shunsuke Fukuda and tie up Iwamasa so Ishihara could get space.

I think we missed Murakami more than Rafael in this one. The offense coming out of the back was rougher than in the previous two games and I think that was due to the fact that we started the offense with the far less talented Tsubouchi, who wasn't awful defensively but lacks offensive touch. How come it didn't shock me that Kohei Tokita was the one who would make the key mistake to cost us a point?

Ten Things To Hate About... FC Tokyo

I figured that I've insulted Oliveira enough for one week. Our next opponent is the dreadfully bland team from Chofu. They aspire to be the next big team in Japan. Why they aren't already is a mystery. Not really. They do have a great player in Naohiro Ishikawa, a good youth program and some of the most annoying fans you'll find outside of Saitama Stadium. I'M A BIG FAN! OK, here goes:

1. Which giant European squad are you trying to be? - Seriously. Between the rip-off Barcelona kits and the rip-off Liverpool singalong, which one are you trying to copy? Say what you will about Urawa (and I would encourage you to do so!), at least they picked one team and stuck with the theme religiously. Nobody likes a copy-cat who doesn't commit!

2. DJ Stephen - The most boring, monotone, pompously English announcer in Japan. Maybe he should be locked in a room with Vegalta's stripclub DJ.

3. 25,000 - The average attendance for a team who resides in one of the biggest cities in the world. You can't even say that Tokyo Verdy is competition anymore, they barely have a pulse. Urawa is doubling you, and they suck.

4. The Nabisco Cup - Nothing good ever comes out of a team winning the Nabisco Cup. Especially for the National Team. You take a competition where two thirds of the teams aren't really trying, one team gets hot and runs to a win and then you magnify that result by naming a ton of their players to the national squad. Happened with JEF, happened with Oita and now we get that with FC Tokyo. How's that workin' out for us?

5. The Mug Shot Line-up - I will say they look less heinous than in years past, but they still look like date rapists. There, I said it.

6. Two Colors, City Bred - The FC Tokyo theme song that no FC Tokyo fan will admit to!

7. "The King Of Tokyo - Amaral? Really? The guy played six years in the JFL and you make him your king? Wasn't he like fifty when he played? Imagine if you guys had had Ueslei, he would have been made a deity. I'm going to lobby to make Jorge Dely Valdes the King of Omiya.

8. Lucas - I still blame you for inflicting the league with Lionel Richie.

9. Worldbeaters In Omiya, Wusses In Urawa - It would be bad enough that you beat us in Omiya in humiliating fashion (0-5, no goals for, ten goals against), but then you come to our main rivals' house and absolutely stink up the place. Two ties in the last twelve matchups between the two of you. At least Kashima smacks around Urawa.

10. Your Annoying Mascot - That's right, I'm referring to that dancing, preening, half-dim mascot of yours that clowns it up every time he touches the field. Yes, Sota Hirayama has to be the most annoying mascot in the J-League. I don't know if it's the fact that he gets more credit for doing less or just the ridiculous look he always has on his face, but he gets under my skin. My least favorite player and my least favorite team.

Didn't even mention the Tanuki, Bruno Quadros, Sasa Salcedo or the corpse of Paulo Wanchope.

Song Of The Week

I could not find Osvaldo and the Antlers, but I did find Adam and the Ants! He actually said nice things about our team (Osvaldo, not Adam)... probably because we lost.

Orange! Ouch!! Football!!!


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