Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Two milestones happened during the weekend on the same day. On Sunday, Former Verdy legend and current Yokohama FC ticket seller, Kazu Miura celebrated his 39th birthday. Celebrated is a little strong, He was on the field against Yokohama F Marinos gettting his head handed to him in the LEOC cup. Yokohama FC went on to lose 4-0.
Legendary actor Don Knotts died. He was most regarded for his role as Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith show. Personally I enjoyed him more as Mr. Firley on Three's company. I think Kazu stole alot of his fashion from Knotts. Don Knotts was 81 years old and a true gentleman. Much like Kazu's talent, You'll definetely be missed Don.
Don Knotts for President? We've had worse! Kazu in happier times
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Anyhow Verdyblog http://verdyblog.ameblo.jp had the game details and pictures.....i'll do a brief summary of what was said......Good pictures on their site!
The 12 o'clock match ended in a 3-0 victory for JEF.........no details were given on the lineups.
The first units went at eachother at 3 pm. Verdy fielded their usual lineup of
And Mizuhara in goal for his turn in the rotation
JEF jumped out to a two goal lead before Basilio put in a PK to make it 2-1 at the half. Nagai scored to answer a JEF goal in the second half. Hiramoto put in the final score to bring the game level. 3-3
I think that's the last training match before the season begins. Against J1 competition, Verdy ended up with a 0-3-3 record with 6 goals scored and 15 goals allowed. The good news is that the first team went 0-3-0, holding all three J1 teams to ties. the second unit was not as "proficient", getting outscored 10-1 in the three games they played.
Friday, February 24, 2006
As a matter of fact, Only Takagi, Hiramoto, Morimoto, Yanagisawa, and Mizuhara remain from the team that claimed victory in what seems like a lifetime ago.
Two familiar faces suited up for the Urawa Reds in todays Xerox Super Cup against Gamba Osaka. Last year's Super cup hero, Washington took his place as the spear in Urawa's high powered offensive machine and had another successful Super cup. The big Brazilian had the first shot of the new season against last year's defending J League champs, which was gathered in easily. After that, He was in the mix for the rest of the game, peppering the Gamba D with near misses and big shots. Washington finally got his chance on a breakaway in the 17th minute after the ball took a tricky bounce off a Gamba defender right to the big man. Washington had an isolation against Gamba keeper Fujigaya and nailed it for an easy score, making it 2-1 Urawa......eventually the difference for Saitama's dreaded Reds. He also made his presence felt when he got in the middle of three Gamba defenders and helped get the ball back to Japan's dream boy, Shinji Ono, who gave a beautiful assist to a cold-blooded Ponte to end the scoring at 3-1.
The other familiar face in National Stadium was Takahito Soma. To put it nicely (not really), He had as much impact on today's game as me. Didn't see the field the entire game with the highly inneffective and overrated Santos getting the nod in MF as well as being passed up in the substitution pattern. He'll get his chances this season with half the midfield travelling for the National team, but I don't know if he's going to get lost in the shuffle......Soma's stated reason for going to Urawa was to get noticed for the National squad but I'm not sure that will happen when your team is loaded at the postion with Ono, Hasebe, Ponte, and Suzuki all having more reputation and prestige (not to mention Zico's security blanket.....Santos). Might have made more sense to be a major player in Yokohama, serving up balls for Kubo.
Anyhow, Urawa is the new Xerox cup champs and prohibitive favorites to claim the 2006 J-League crown, as well as challenging for hardware in Nabisco cup and Emperors cup competitions.
More details when I can get a better translation.
Long story short.........Arema Malang, Tobacco Monopoly, Provincial Electric Authority, and Persipura Jayapura (The teams with the literal names are from Thailand, the other two are Indonesian) were kicked out of the ACL tournament for failing to turn in their player registrations by midnight on February 12th at midnight. They were granted extensions but failed to get them done in a timely fashion. All 4 teams will forfeit all games and have the games recorded as 3-0 losses.
The ACL decided to leave the tournament intact because it only affected Group F (Verdy and Ulsan Horang-I(South Korea)) and G (Shanghai Shenhua (China) and Dong Tam Long (Vietnam)). The teams in F and G will play what amounts to a home and home for the right to advance to the next round.
So Verdy will finish at least in second in their group.......4-0 without even playing a match......THAT'S RUI MAGIC, BABY!
I've been trying to analyse every move, action, inaction, and perceived slight that goes on with the decision making of Rui and team green. I'm afraid I got caught up in too much conspiracy and not enough common sense. I opined yesterday about the lack of young Mr. Morimoto and I felt pretty proud of myself for bemoaning the lack of opportunity or action for the lad. Today, I check the message moderation system (I have it on moderate mode so Viagra ads and Nigerian "ambassadors" with 10 million dollars and no one to give it to won't flood the board) and there's the answer.......plain as day. Nick (the genius behind the "Dandelion" nickname) posts, "Maybe He's finishing school (paraphrased)". 17 year old, Senior year, has a life besides soccer........Damn, I'm stupid!
Anyway, Thank you Nick for pointing out life besides soccer.
Weekly Soccer Magazine also put out it's big old J League Who's Who for 2006.....it runs 600 yen here in Japan......If you have a kinokuniya or other Japanese book store in your country it will probably be about 10 dollars US. Pounds, Loonies and other denominations are a complete mystery to me so I can't tell ya. I love this magazine.......I swear it was like Christmas on tuesday when I saw the thing on the newsstand.......it was up to date on the Verdy player acquisitions as well........amazing timing for things that happened only a week before. Usually with the big previews, they don't catch the latest transactions because they have everything laid out and printed and there's a deadline. If you get the chance, pick it up!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Yeah, I told the story blandly for a reason.....the game wasn't the real story yesterday. The real story was what happened at halftime between a fan and King Rui. According to Nikkan sports via babelfish, it seems the fan got a bit too verbose with the criticism of Verdy and Ramos got into a 5 minute verbal squabble. Nikkan sports says that the encounter ended on a happy note (Maybe Rui signed him to the squad because of his passion and spirit, player number 39. Nahh i'm kidding, but not really.) Ramos said in the postgame that the result was probably from fatigue.
The starting lineup for the Verdy squad
Yanagisawa, Togawa, Hagimura, Fujita DF
Kanazawa, Ohashi, Ono, Nagai MF
Basilio, Hiramoto FW
In the afternoon match, Meikai University took their cracks at Verdy's second team and didn't fare so well. 9-0 Verdy.......Kazunori Iio and Ryosuke kijima both had a couple of scores in the blowout.
The afternoon crew
Aoba, Dedimar, Uemura, Hayama DF
Sugawara, Mystery guest,Kuba,Tsurumaki MF
Iio, Kijima FW
The big mystery in these camps is the disappearance of Morimoto........I haven't seen anything saying he's hurt or disgruntled so I'm wondering why he hasn't been seen in awhile......he turns 18 this year so I wouldn't get too sour on him.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
J2 Hiramoto and Basilio at FW
Ohashi, Sugawara, Ono, and Anailson at MF
Fujita, Hagimura, Dedimar, and Yanagisawa at DF
Takagi at GK
(In my January 20th column, I had them in a 3-4-3 formation with Hiramoto, Basilio, and Ono up top, Ohashi, Sugiwara, Nagai, and Anailson in the middle, Hagimura, Dedimar, and Tomisawa in the back and Takagi in goal)
ACL Morimoto and Kijima up top
Nagai, Kanazawa, Kina, and Hiroyama in the middle
Hayama, Togawa, Tomisawa, and Shigemitsu in D
Mizuhara in goal
It makes sense......the J2 squad is their strongest team and I think the ACL group would probably challenge for 8th or 9th in J2. I was worried he was going to do a divide and conquer thing in reverse but it looks like Rui has an actual plan that's coherent.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Here are some links to interviews from the Guam camp from J's goal
Ramos interview: http://www.jsgoal.jp/news/00029000/00029373.html
Nagai interview: http://www.jsgoal.jp/news/00029000/00029372.html
Sugawara interview: http://www.jsgoal.jp/news/00029000/00029370.html
Ono interview: http://www.jsgoal.jp/news/00029000/00029369.html
Dandelion interview: http://www.jsgoal.jp/news/00029000/00029368.html
Camp footage: http://www.jsgoal.jp/news/00029000/00029304.html
Friday, February 17, 2006
You might be asking yourself why I have a picture of Dwight Yorke up on Soilent Green. No, Verdy did not sign the striker, and no, there have been absolutely no rumors saying that Dwight Yorke will sign with Verdy............but it might make sense to sign him.
Yorke has publicly stated that he'd like to come to the J-league for the first half of the season in order to tune up for the World Cup. Yorke is a member of the Trinidad&Tobago squad. Right now, most of the teams are set, roster-wise. Verdy is not in that position, they have been signing people as late as last week. They also have to field two full squads for the 48 regular season matches, at least 6 ACL matches and Emperors Cup (not to mention the satellite league......which it looks like Verdy will forgo). At the minimum, that is 55 games.
Now the conventional wisdom is that Yorke would join Yokohama FC and team up with his former Sydney mate King Kazu to form a geriatric strike force. He could get some attention from former EPL coach Stuart Baxter down in Kobe (we know Mikitani likes to sign over the hill players with big pedigrees ...........*cough* MBOMA *cough*). He could go to one of the few J1 teams still looking for a quick foreign fix. I think the best fit for him and for the J League is Verdy. Here's why:
1. Opportunity-Yorke is coming in late to the J League party. He has another semi-final match in the A League on Sunday, and then if Sydney FC continues on, it could be a couple more weeks before he joins a potential squad. Verdy has extra games on their schedule, extra games mean extra opportunities and the chance for a foreign player to sign on with a squad that already has 3 imports claiming gameday spots. It helps Verdy because it adds depth and punch to the front line. It also means he wouldn't have the grind of playing 12-14 games before the Cup. He could concentrate on the 4 ACL matches that Verdy has as well as getting in 1 or 2 of the other home based matches.
2. Experience- Yorke is oozing with experience, once being a featured player on one of the 2 or 3 marquee teams in the world. After playing in red at Old Trafford, the chances of nerves getting to you in a match against Tobacco monopoly are pretty much nil. Yorke would not only help with the ACL campaign, he would be a good mentor to a young kid who has dreams of playing for a national squad and in Europe.........yes Mr. Morimoto, I'm talking to you.
3. Hype- In the world of Verdy, I think publicity might be on par with winning in the minds of ownership. Signing a World Cup striker, with a pedigree linked to Man U, connections to Kazu, and plenty of Japanese TV face time after the WCC would surely help get TV69 publicity that Dedimar, Basilio, and Anailson just won't do. Do you honestly think Ramos was signed only for his coaching prowess? I'm guessing the ad campaign with the picture of Rui and only Rui (which kind of have an Orwellian "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU" feel to it) instead of......y'know......the team would lead you to believe the answer is HELL NO!
Again......and let me state this clearly.......there has been no reports or rumors of Yorke signing with Verdy. And there are reasons not to sign a 35 year old striker playing in Australia, but Verdy might want to look into this, unless they have another striker lined up from ARTE TAKASAKI who once played for the Yomiuri club in 1992 and used to play mah johnng with Ramos back in the good old days.
Let's start the show...........
1. Consadole Sapporo- I like these guys, they started turning it around the second half of last season, they are having a very solid preseason, picking up wins against Kawasaki Frontale, Avispa Fukuoka, and Yokohama FC. They've been 2nd division for too long and I think they will clean up on weak sisters like Ehime and Thespa.
2. Vissel Kobe- New coach Stuart Baxter will have them playing well come the second half of the season.....there will be talk of a coaching change after a slow start but the guys will respond and take them back to J1. they might be overlooked because they were sooooooooooooo bad in J1 last year. they also had less turmoil than the other two relegation victims.
3. Vegelta Sendai- Joel Santana is another fresh face in J2. This was a team that was one point from being in the playoff that lead to Kashiwa's demise................i don't know if they would have responded to Tsunami after the heartbreak.......Santana will get through to them (In my opinion).
4. Sagan Tosu- They have the scoring punch from last year and they added some help in D. I think they will surprise and hang aroun promotion territory until the end.
5. TOKYO VERDY 1969 Too much competition is going to kill these guys. I think the worst thing that could happen to them is doing well in the first game against Ulsan in the ACL. Rui might believe that he can win both competitions and that will hurt the franchise. TV69 also has around 40 players right now..............how many are they gonna keep, are they fielding an ACL squad and a league squad (I believe they are if you look at the pattern in Guam)? Who is going to Thailand? Who is going to help with the promotion campaign? Who is going to be forgotten completely? On the plus side, there is a lot of veteran leadership.
6. Montedio Yamagata- If former Omiya FW Leandro stays healthy and scores, this team will push up to top 3 or 4. They didn't lose much from a team that finished 5th last year.
7. Tokushima Vortis-Another team that will be competitive and finsh in the middle of the pack. Jun Tamano will have a great season for them.
8. Kashiwa Reysol- Everybody left Kashiwa after the great collapse of 2005, the fans had a sit-in, the team quit, and Kofu humiliated them. Maybe it's a good thing that it's a brand new team but it's unpredictable.......they have had a nice spring as well, but there has to be a cloud hanging over them.
9. Shonan Bellmare- I'm not crazy about this team at all. I think they could add Nakata and still not get promoted. They have been hovering around the lower ends of J2 for awhile and I think that won't change.
10. Mito Hollyhock- They were bad last year and didn't really get much talent to make up for it.
11. Ehime FC- I don't know much about this squad. I'll give them the benifit of the doubt and say they will surprise. They have a ton of Sanfrecce reinforcements.
12- Yokohama FC- They stink and they're old.......hows that for brutal honesty. They couldn't score against Rosso Kumamoto in a trial game last week.......not a good sign.
13- Thespa Kusatsu-No experience in goal is gonna kill them, at least with Ehime, their keepers were in a battle for promotion. I think they won't be as bad as last year but they haven't really upgraded.........in fact the keeper position will be weaker. they are just lucky J3 didn't start this year.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Nikkan sports has a nice blurb singing the praises of the oldest Verdian, Hideki Nagai. It seems President Nagai (the nickname his teammates have bestowed upon him) has notched a couple of assists in the Albirex and Omiya matches. The 35 year old Nagai is making a push to be in the middle 4 on opening day. Rui Ramos called him a passing genius (babelfish translation).
I swear if Verdy gets promoted or wins the ACL because of this guy, NTV will make a 2 hour drama out of this with one of the SMAP guys as Nagai and that chick from JO'O no Kyoshitsu as a sassy and tough reporter who has a iron venner but a heart that melts after SMAP Nagai wisecracks, cries, and scores his way into her soul.
My count says there's 38 players on Verdy 69's roster at the moment.......that's enough for 2 complete teams........considering they will at least 55 games, I'm guessing Nagai will see alot of action.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The interesting tidbit is that he has helped his past two squads get promoted to J1. Is Rui bringing in a talisman?
The morning match ended 2-1......Kurokawa was in goal with a team similar to the morning game against Omiya. Kijima netted Verdy's only score in the 42nd minute.
The afternoon match saw a Hiramoto sighting! He came in as a sub in the second half and put in a score!!!!!!!!!!
There's some more training before the team heads home and concentrates on the upcoming season.
Kijima in the morning game just tryin hard
Ono being Captainly (Is captainly a word? It should be!)
ACL TIDBIT Tokyo Verdy 1969 parent company NTV has decided to remove the Cyberagent ads on the front of Verdy's unis for the champions league matches and go with their own NTV logo for the games. The Reason: TV Asahi is the exclusive broadcaster of the ACL and NTV (reasonably) doesn't want their product on another channel without some sort of compensation. Hence the free advertising on TV Asahi. I agree with the move 100%........it's a bit petty but so what?
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Tomorrow, Tokyo Verdy takes on Albirex Niigata in another training match. I think there will be no new pickups tomorrow but Rui could run into a Guam cabana boy who shows remarkable foot speed when bringing Rui a fruity girl drink with a delicate green umbrella and move him in front of Morimoto on the depth chart........just a hunch.
Monday, February 13, 2006
The first signing is former Verdy defender and FC Horikoshi refugee Takumi Hayama. Hayama last played in the J league for (then) soon to be relegated Vegalta Sendai in 2003. He is 27 years old and full of vigor. Welcome home, Takumi!
Hayama version 2002
The next signing is rather intriguing. Urawa schoolboy and international traveller Masaki Saito played abroad in China and Brazil before finding a home at Shizuoka FC. Saito is only 25 and has some potential. Takayuki Morimoto is all but falling off the depth chart and Kazuki Hiramoto hasn't really been seen since the car accident..........don't know if this is just Ramos filling in depth or a portent of things to come, we'll see! I kinda like both signings, experienced but not old........they might just be here for depth, which is needed right now.
Saito in Shizuoka
I'm sorry...........It seems I offended Soilent Green reader and fellow Omiya supporter by posting a picture of the devil himself, Liovnir"TUTO" Ruschel
I vow from this day forth to never post anymore pictures of TUTO in his Ponte Preta uniform
Therefore I vow never to post anymore funny(to me) drawings of an obese TUTO
Pictures of Tuto in his warmups...........no siree!
Pictures of Tuto blowing another scoring chance for Omiya........Not at my site!
Finally, Tuto pictures when he was on his big "Human League" haircut phase.........Keep feeling fascination, TUTO........just don't do it here.
TUTO IS BANISHED
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Basilio scored on a penalty kick in the first half and (according to the Website of Verdy and Babelfish) Verdy controlled play in the first half. They ran out of gas and let a late header in off a free kick in injury time to allow Le Ecureuil Orange the tie (Wicked good francais on my part!)
Koji Maatsura battles bravely in a losing cause
Up next for GANGGREEN is 2 days of training followed by another tuneup against live competition.......... Albirex Niigata.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The good news is, it looks like Takagi is in midseason form with a couple of brilliant saves (according to the website) the bad news is, it looks like Takagi is in midseason form because Verdy dropped the game 5-0...........to be fair, it was a pickup team put together but hey, we don't believe in fairness
Just for Nick, a courthouse drawing of the massacre of a dandelion.
Herr Ramos stated that he admired the way Omiya played football (via babelfish.....so he could be talking about anything) and that he wanted the team to emulate the Omiya rise to J1.
Well, here's a tip Rui, if you see this fat Brazilian sack of crap and he tells you he is a world class forward who has the speed of a gazelle, the grace of a swan, and the the mad skills of Pele........RUN AWAY! VERY FAST! Maybe even not so fast because he was rather slow and plodding.
Liovnir "TUTO" Ruschel, don't think I forgot what an offense killer you truly are.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Zico decided to scrap the 3-6-1 formation in the second half and at first it looked like it wouldn't matter with Taylor Twellman finally getting one for himself and putting the red white and blue up 3-0. The US team dominated most of the second half (at one point the corners were 13-1 in favor of the US) until JEF United FW Seichiro Maki put a nice goal past a painfully inept Los Angeles keeper Kevin Hartman. Akira Kaji of Gamba set up the play with a beautiful pass. The action went back and forth until injury time when Yokohama F Marinos and national team mainstay (and former Verdy player) Yuji Nakazawa went down to the ground to put a soft shot past the inexplicably frozen Hartman. Final score 3-2 United States over Japan in a game that really wasn't that close.
My 3 stars of the match:
Taylor Twellman, who had a hand in all 3 goals.
Kawaguchi, who was under a constant barrage all game but kept the score close.
Clint Dempsey, who had a nice goal and an awful celebration dance.......he was constantly pressing Japan until his removal.
The coaching was a bit baffling, especially the choice of keepers. Hartman isn't going to be on the World Cup team, he's old and he's not world quality anymore. He showed he was most effective when nobody was shooting near him at all and he couldn't clear to save his life. It would have been nice to see a younger guy like Brad Guzan or Zach Wells get a shot under live fire.......at least get someone in like Matt Reis who has a chance of being the third keeper . Keller has a lock on it and Hahneman will be number 2 or 3 (depending on Manchester United keeper Tim Howard and his mental condition). Zico on the other hand used Kawaguchi, who pretty much is a lock for the starting spot.........why not give Urawa's Tsuboi a chance to see if he really is up to playing on the world stage?
It was good to see the return of US striker and FC Dallas player Eddie Johnson and Yokohama FM forward Tatsuhiko Kubo return from injury and play in the game. Both were rising stars until injuries derailed them. Both were on torrential scoring paces with Kubo getting goals in 8 of the 12 national team appearances he made and Johnson scoring in all but one of his matches as a national teamer. Neither player had much impact on the game but it would be wonderful to see them both in action at full strength in the big dance.
Enjoyable game and the result saves me from being tormented by 14 year old Japanese boys who think they know everything.
This game looks like a mirror image.......both teams have trouble scoring, strong midfields, and questions on D. The two best players on the field are arguably Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy and Shinji Ono of Urawa.Both players had tumultuos times in Europe after being successful in their home leagues.Ono can only hope to see the same domestic success as Donovan, who pulled a double in his return (US open cup---The Emperors cup of america, and the MLS cup). Another similarity is the decline of two vets in REAL Salt Lake and US defender Eddie Pope, and Urawa DF/MF Alessandro Santos. Pope has put alot of wear and tear on his legs and doesn't have the jets of previous years. Santos has turned into a sieve on defense......with the 3-6-1 formation, Alex gets the chance to attack more and plays in a more compatible system to the 3-5-2 that Urawa utilizes.
Japan has the advantage in goal, using the dependable Jubilo keeper, Kawaguchi while the US will let Kevin Hartman (who ranks 4th or 5th on the depth charts) in the nets.Hartman has had a less than stellar record in big games and national team appearances. The US is at home and has had a couple of matches this season (0-0 to Canada and 5-0 to Norway as well a 2-1 loss to Korea in a scrimmage).....Japan is playing in their first competitive match of 2006 and have to deal with jet lag after arriving on the 5th. Taylor Twellman is the player to watch in this game......if the mercurial New England Revolution striker can find the mark early, the US could roll.
I'm calling it a 2-2 draw
That's right.......IT'S RUI TIME! Go Rui.....It's your birthday! Here at SG 1969 we always like to give out well wishes to the special people in the world of Verdy......so happy 75th birthday Ramos (or 49 maybe, who knows?) Feliz Aniversario El Jefe!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Vaya con dios, Verde Muchachos!
EDITOR NOTE: You would normally be seeing a J2 around the league tonight, however I didn't do my homework and I don't want to plop something on here that's not thought out at all (Half thought out is fine). Look for it on Thursday or Friday along with my predictions for the J2 season and a preview of the National team scrum in America (the only time I'll root against Japan......unless they meet up in round 2 in Germany)........anyhow I should be hearing it from the kids either way on the 13th. Tomorrow will be internet upgrades so nothing will be appearing but on Tuesday i hope to provide you with the numbers for all the team members and translated (sort of) reports from Guam. Good Times!
Friday, February 03, 2006
Well, the green machine started off their training with a couple of warm-ups against local college squads, Meiji University and Teikyo University and came away victorious in both. New imports Basilio and Anailson each chipped in a goal in the 2-1 win over Meiji (picture of Kazunori Iio and Yuhei Ono against anonymous Meiji defender).
In the second game, Basilio came on like a man on fire and scored a hat trick against the young lads from Teikyo, JFL refugee and Rui Ramos pet project Hideki Nagai also added a goal and an assist in the 4-1 victory.
Verdy is now off to Guam for some sun, fun, and a run at Kobayashi one and two when they take on Omiya in a scrimmage on the 12th. 38 will go, some won't be coming back.........Bwahahahahaha!
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Here is a very small picture of the 2006 squad........the new slogan is ALL FOR WIN
OK, wrap your mind around this little nugget of good feelings. Kind of sounds like a boyband.........ALL FOR WIN!
I was hoping JUST WIN DOUCHEBAGS was going to be the pick but ALL FOR WIN has a ring to it too.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I have a feeling that this will continue all season if Urawa plays up to their potential. Ono scores his first goal, Ono talks to the fans, One eats a doughnut, Ono laughs at practice, Ono takes a poop.............you get the idea. On and on this will go until something else happens, like Shunsuke Nakamura does something or Hide Nakata does something or the media falls in love with some new guy who has moderate success in a big Euro league or huge success in a lower level Euro league.
Don't get me wrong, Ono is one of the best players in Japan and him coming back to Urawa is a huge story. But.......and let me emphasize BUT....it's not the only story. I'd like to see more about the Gamba renovation and how it's going to impact their title defense. I'd like to see more on Yokohama and the possibility of them regaining their championship swagger. I'd like to hear more about Cerezo, JEF, or Kashima who were all in shouting distance of bringing home the championship (JEF actually won a cup).
I'd like to blame this all on the Urawa hype machine but I can't. Although Urawa has dominated the news for all of 2006 (deservedly so.......I don't like it but they have been out in front on and off the field) they didn't start the hype machine. It all really began with a team in green who used to play in Kanagawa and decided they needed to move to Tokyo. It all started with a team who was owned by a huge daily newspaper who tried to duplicate the monstrosity they created in baseball. And they still are trying to keep in the public eye.
Before Ono, there was Rui mania. Rui becomes a coach, Rui takes over his old squad, Rui wears a green coat and plays in the snow. Sport rags haven't really gone into huge detail on the wrecking ball and renovation of this once proud franchise but they have shown Rui holding himself while watching his troops.
Before Ono, there was the King. The King goes to Europe, The King goes to Kobe, The King goes to Yokohama FC, The King plays in the WCC for Sydney, The King returns in a bright orange coat.
Urawa might be wise to take a look at Verdy now. This might be their future in ten years. Santos as coach, Ono trying for one last time at J3 squad Alos Hokuriku, Keisuke Tsuboi writing a tearful letter to the fans that he's leaving for Consadole Sapporo because he can't imagine playing in J2 for Urawa. It's the hype machine, it's builds your ego up to an inordinate level and then causes you to crash hard. Right now, the hype machine has built Urawa and Ono up to such an untenable level that there is no room for error. Hell, they already have won the 2006 championship, haven't they? All that's left are the games, right? Urawa, and more specifically Ono, have absolutely no room for error this season. It's unfair, but Japan's team asked for it.
ADDENDUM/APOLOGY: The Hirano transfer story was not my finest writing. I was in fact a little bitter because I was tired of the guy not making up his mind sooner so we could put the thing to rest. Hirano was a decent player for Verdy and I hope he has success with Yokohama FM. I think at this stage in his career it's a smarter move than Croatia or Europe for that matter. Ganbatte Hirano