Monday, 4 October 2010

Agent Orange: Nine

You knew it was bound to happen. When it comes to the Saitama Derby, the home team always drops points to the away team and Saturday's game was no different. For some reason, I'm not that bothered by the loss. Don't get me wrong, I hate them as much as ever. Maybe it just is because we are coming off the big win against FC Tokyo. It was surprising to see the team come out really flat - maybe we shouldn't have been surprised. It has been a while since we got thumped by Urawa - a couple of the guys weren't around the last time we lost to them in a league match.

And the entire right side of the field was made up at times of Lee Chun Soo and four players who barely have a year of first team game experience between them. For the first sixteen minutes we were awful... and we lost. When we go into the next league game, against Gamba Osaka, we are going to have a different lineup from the one that saw time versus Reds. That lineup was different from the one that faced FC Tokyo, which was different from the one that faced Kashima Antlers, which was different from the one that challenged Shimizu S-Pulse... getting the picture yet?

Derby day is over and I'm not going to dwell on it. For once in their miserable lives, they deserved the win. Furtho also did a much better job of summing up the game than I could ever do anyhow, so moving on... This season is a wash. We have to hope that we can get enough points to stay alive for another year. Think of what's left as a nine-game audition for 2011, not only for the players but also for the coach. Let's look to the future, shall we?

Two players I'm pretty sure you won't be seeing next year in orange and blue are former Jang Wae Ryong favorites Tomoya Uchida and Yoshihito Fujita. I'm only disappointed in seeing one of them go. Uchida scored one of the most important goals in the brief J1 history of Omiya when he fired in against the mighty Kashima Antlers to help Ardija secure a historic 3-1 victory. He has a nice free kick, as evidenced by his bomb against FC Tokyo last year. Fujita meanwhile has managed to blow a ton of chances in front of net, he seems to have low confidence at times and can disappear at critical junctures.

Good riddance, Uchida! Yeah, confusing isn't it. Uchida is small, not very strong and has a lack of speed. At times he gives up on plays, reminiscent of former small, slow and useless striker Kota Yoshihara. When he's not getting injured or recovering from injuries, he seems to be content to be a mediocre player on a mediocre team and that's the last thing we need.

Fujita for his part seems to be plugging away in training matches, scoring at a reasonable clip even though he probably has no chance of playing for the first team. Yes, he should finish the few chances he gets from our less-than-stellar assist makers - but over the past year and a half he has been left on an island on offense, forced to create while being double- and triple-teamed. I still think he could be a good third striker and I think he has a role to play this year if he's given the chance. Outside of Rafael, we have nobody who can play the post role on offense. I am in the minority on this but I think we need Fujita for at least one more year.

More dumping on Chikara!!!

One guy who is almost certain of having a spot next year if we stay up is our "beloved" captain, Chikara Fujimoto. A fun fact for you: since 1998 Fujimoto has scored at least one goal every season in the league and two goals in all yearly competitions. Thus far in 2010 he has yet to score at all... in anything. Granted he did not play in the Nabisco Cup or in the Tennohai match against Kamatamare Sanuki (I am pretty certain we will see him go up against Oita Trinita in the next round) but for five years, we have gotten to see The Dance. This year, no dance. What gives? I am guessing we will see two such performances later this year. I would bet on it. One of them might even be important.


September was a nice surprise, October might be the month we collectively pull our hair out (well you, actually, since I am currently free of locks). The month ahead lays out like this:

i. a Cup game against Oita, in a glorified scrimmage where we will see who is starting against Gamba Osaka.

ii. an away trip to Gamba in which we will probably see the duo of Mato Neretljak and Shunsuke Fukuda against a fast and high-powered offense (not very promising).

iii. a home match against the erratic but dangerous Kawasaki Frontale.

iv. a game against Shonan Bellmare, who might be highly motivated in one of their last competitive J1 games (Shonan's final nine fixtures are Kashima, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, us, Yokohama F Marinos, S-Pulse, Nagoya Grampus, Gamba, Cerezo Osaka and then Albirex Niigata in the finale... which of those games looks like being their best chance to win?).

It's a must for Ardija to get at least the three points from Shonan and if we can steal some points against Gamba or Kawasaki, even better. November then starts out with a home game against Montedio Yamagata, a team that for some reason we have yet to score on. After that is the awful annual road trip to Nagoya, who are on a ridiculous string of results right now so I kinda hope they keep getting wins and their play gets worse so we can catch them off guard. They kind of sleepwalked against Vegalta Sendai on Saturday and November is the time when frontrunners drop shock results to the bottom feeders... so please let it be us!

We then have a back-to-back short stint against Kyoto Sanga (which we have to win, although Sanga have games against Yamagata and FC Tokyo after us so the impetus might not be as strong for them) and Vissel Kobe. That's Kobe against which we played our worst game of the year not involving Sendai. Right now Vissel is the odds-on favorite to take the drop, especially since they still have games against Nagoya, Gamba, S-Pulse and Kashima on their schedule. We need to win that match.

If we are able to negotiate our way through that maze of meh, Omiya finish the season with two games that on paper look to be in our advantage. Albirex Niigata faces us at the end of November at NACK5, where they have yet to beat us. Our opponent in the single December match, Marinos, historically has struggled against us. We pretty much have dominated the matchup ever since promotion, which means if we are in danger of dropping, they will be supremely motivated to beat us. God, I hate this time of year. The good news is that we control our own fate. The bad news is that we control our own fate.


Uhh... if it gets him to score, then we should just go along with the song... You the man, Chikara!

Orange! Two goals bitch!! Football!!!

Fucking Urawa.



Michael 4 October 2010 at 05:32  

I'm staying away from my computer the day we play Shonan. That one has car crash written all over it.

I still think we'll stay up. Or should that be hope?

Black & White Squirrel.

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