Sunday, 1 August 2010

Agent Orange: WIN! Glourious Basterds

God, that was FUN! Really fun! Even the fifty minutes of being a man down, which was not fun at all, was FUN! Thank you, Urawa Reds, for making soccer fun again, even though it was not particularly fun for you!

This really started on Wednesday, when after a dull first half against Yokohama F Marinos, Omiya suddenly sprang to life and pushed for goals. By the end of that contest, Ardija were looking far more dangerous and should have won. We saw the corpse of Dudu have a magnificent game, assisting on one goal and setting up Naoki Ishihara for a dangerous chance which he passed up. If not for a last-minute breakdown in front of goal, we would now be looking at having picked up two wins in a row. Fast forward to Saturday, where we pushed up and attacked fairly well for a good thirty-plus minutes. Looking at the stat breakdowns, we were outshooting Urawa 9-3 in the first 38 minutes.

Then Stuart Atwell struck. Those of you who follow the EPL or read other blogs have seen that Mr Atwell is not the most respected man in officiating. I think the problem is that he needs just to tone it down a notch. It seemed like he had his warnings at yellow and his yellows at red. When the initial call went against Kazuhiro Murakami, I thought it was an awful decision and barely a yellow. Now that I think about it though, it was a really stupid challenge in a stupid place on the field that offered no threat to us. Was it a harsh call? Yeah, but it wasn't as ridiculous as the horrible red card thrown out by ref Murakami in the FC Tokyo game.

I'll defend Atwell a bit. To his credit, he kept the game going at a pretty good pace late on. He gave Norio Suzuki a yellow for timewasting that was completely justified and he prevented Ishihara from doing that annoying thing where a player takes the ball to the corner and stalls for thirty seconds to a minute. I'd say it was a better job than the one done by Junpei Iida at Kobe (where he let Vissel absolutely milk the clock for forty-plus minutes, ground-roll and act like they were dead), or the Marinos game officiated by Matsuo (who called fouls every time a Sailors player fell down, waved play on for Yokohama while passing out yellows to Omiya for similar offences, and created a protective bubble around Shunsuke Nakamura so that he would have ample space to create his "magic"). Atwell was harsh, but I've seen worse... this week.

So we packed it in. 52 minutes of watching Reds stumble around and put up ten soft shots was nerve-wracking, but enjoyable. The whole thing was enjoyable. As per usual, Urawa boxed the Ardija support into a small section, with seats cordoned off and barriers up so we wouldn't misbehave... because you know how Omiya fans can get! Last year, I sat up by myself in the upper decks, surrounded by people I didn't know. I was happy, of course, that Omiya was victorious - but I wasn't in to the game that much. This one I felt a part of. I think that's the real heart of the game right there. Derbies are something completely different. You can't spend them by yourself. It's just not the same.

If we end up getting relegated, I'm gonna miss this experience. I bitch about it, but Omiya needs Urawa. Every good story needs a villain. I currently can't express my happiness in words.

What I'm not sure I'd live with is a loss next week to Shonan Bellmare. This match scares me to no end. I think we can and should win the game, but I'm afraid we're going to come out flat. Shonan is more than capable of stealing results against teams in our situation, so it's imperative we take intiative early and snuff out their hopes.

Some good news for us is that on Saturday we actually figured out a way to win a 1-0 game. The last time we were able to pull off that feat was in the penultimate round of the 2008 season against Jubilo Iwata. Just to compare, Kashima managed six 1-0 wins last year. Scraping out wins when the offense isn't clicking is a key to being a full-fledged J1 club. We also haven't won back-to-back games in over a year. Next week would be a great time to start.

The Dilemma

I have a friend whose girlfriend really likes another team. He was sitting with me at Marinos for about ten minutes when she paged and commanded him to go be with her at another stadium to watch a match that had just started there. This kind of brings up a particular dilemma in my mind... do you date a girl with really bad taste in J-League teams? What about one that is really, really, passionate about her team? As you know, I loves me some Ardija! What happens (don't laugh) if I met a girl who was funny and pretty (shut up, don't laugh) and kind and smart (stop laughing) and we hit it off?

We meet at Christmas, date a couple times, and then it slips out that she is a full-on member of the Red Army. You go to her house and see all her green dog stuffed animals, Tatsuya Tanaka posters, and collection of figurines and jerseys. Do you still date her? Do you introduce her to your Omiya friends, knowing that at any minute she'll probably say a whopper like, "Oh, I really like Omiya too... I hope they get relegated so I have a team in J2 to support"? Do you string her along until the season starts? Or do you pull a Mel Gibson and yell racist and sexist-tinged obscenities at her?

That's a tough one.

One Final Thought

So far, we have managed to take ten points from teams in the top half of J1 - and only four from the bottom half. That keeps me awake at night.


A double rainbow!!!



  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP