Well, it was one year ago that Tokyo Verdy hoisted the Xerox cup after winning on penalty kicks against a strong Yokohama F Marinos side.....Washington scored the equalizer late to send it to extra time and Takagi had the only stop in PK's to seal the deal for Tokyo Verdy. Yamada-GONE, Lee-Gang Jin-GONE, Soma, Takashi , The Kobayashis, Hayashi, Toda-GONE.
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.