I'm going to preface this post with a little story about my mood before the match. I was in a bad mood, a very bad mood. I don't like the train ride to Tokyo so I got there in a steam. I went to get my bag checked and after 15 minutes, they finally found my soda (no pet bottles are allowed in Tokyo stadiums). I then went to the beverage guy so he could empty the contents of said bottle into a cup........or around the cup,on the cup, and on the ground. His one job and he's failing miserably. He hands me the sticky cup and I grab another one to put the mess into and walk to my seat. I get to one area where they say that the seats are and the ushers tell me to go all the way around the stadium in the opposite direction.
OK, I'm pissed now.........I go to the Tokyo Verdy supporters booth to get my card points added for no reason, I suppose because I haven't ever qualified for anything. Not even sure what the card is good for. The supporter people are blabbering at me about how I don't get anything until January and two others have a loud speaker and are shouting "Join the club" while the people are blabbering really fast. So finally, I yell "SHUT UP" at the megaphone people. They pause for a second, start blabbering again and I turn around and yell "SHUUUUUUUT UP" again. Problem solved.
I then go to the 1969 seats which are way up there......I'm by myself until a family of 5 come up behind me with those frigging Thunder Stix and the kids start banging them right behind my head. I move away, settle in and drink what's left of my soda. Let's get to the game.
GK 1 Takahiro TAKAGI
DF 2 Masahiro MOMITANI ,6 Nobuhito TORIIZUKA, 4 Ryu SAITO, 3 Mitsumasa YODA
MF 15 Yoshiki NAKAI, 13 Wataru YAMAZAKI, 10 Yusuke SHIMADA, 7 Sotaro SADA
FW 20 Atsushi YOSHIMOTO, 24 Keisuke OTA
SUBS: MF 19 Ryo GOTO (81 Yamazaki), FW 14 Masami SATO (81 Yoda), FW 9 Yasunori TAKADA (78 Yoshimoto)
GK 21 TAKAGI
DF 2 HAGIMURA, 3 FUJITA, 4 TOGAWA, 27 AOBA
MF 8 NAGAI, 10 ANAILSON, 11 ONO, 15 KANAZAWA
FW 9 BASILIO, 25 HIRAMOTO
SUBS: GK 1 MIZUHARA, 7 OHASHI (51 NAGAI), 16 IIO (68 FUJITA), 32 KUBA, 42 RICK not Hiki(51 KANAZAWA)
Coming off of two hard fought and, some would say, fortuitous wins on the road, EL BUITRE came in to fight the young and struggling spa men of Kusatsu. Led by a couple of former Omiya Ardija players in GK Takahiro Takagi and MF Yusuke Shimada, Thespa has only managed 7 points in 7 games to sit second from bottom.
Possibly buoyed by their recent run of wins (or maybe because they were home) Verdy went out early on the attack. Hiramoto, in a preview of things to come, started things off with a crack shot that Thespa Takagi was able to wrangle in. Verdy really looked lively, breaking through early against a Thespa defense that was severely lacking. The first goal would come quick as a hustling Harutaka Ono started to show glimpses of why Ramos named him captain. Ono outran a Thespa defender, kept the ball in play on the endline, dribbled, and sent a beautiful cross right to the head of a well positioned Hiramoto. 1-0 VERDY.
Surprisingly, this caused Verdy to relax a bit too much. Thespa took over the role of agressor, consistently breaking down Verdy's D line. Thespa Shimada weaved in and out of the back 4, consistently setting up the massive Keisuke Ota. Ota, for his part was depositing the ball everywhere except near the goal. In the first half, it could be argued that he was the best Verdy defender. The only shot that was really on goal was a weak header that VERDY Takagi managed to muff and drop out of bounds for a gift corner. Thespa then got it to Ota who managed to kick it into the Thespa supporter section.
The second half would start like the first ended, with Thespa on the attack. First minute of the second half sees sloppy play from the back 4. Unable to clear, Thespa gets a cross into Ota who puts a clean header into the back of the net............VERDY Takagi is like a statue. No response at all. 3 minutes later, Ota isolates Togawa, who is completely inept on the play. Ota gets into a strange angle at the goal and puts a bullet into the net. Again, Takagi is frozen in place. 2-1 Thespa.
Ramos goes to his bench in the 51st minute, pulling Kanazawa and Nagai, and inserting Ohashi and Rick/Hiki. Both players provide a nice push and the game creeps slowly back in the buzzards control. Verdy manages to force a corner which Ohashi delivers perfectly to Ono. Ono clanks a header off the post, falling fortuitously at the feet of Hiramoto. Hiramoto does what he does best and puts it in the net to tie things up. 2-2
Verdy is in a 3-4-3 formation from what I could tell with Iio joining Basilio and Hiramoto up top. Another breakaway situation found Hiramoto isolated on the keeper. Not one to pass up a shooting opportunity, Hiramoto waved off a streaking Basilio and faked Takagi out of his shoes and put in the third goal for a hat trick. 3-2 Verdy.
Thespa then picked up the pace, pushing up into the Verdy end. Yasunori Takada got into the Verdy box and was taken down by a late reacting VERDY Takagi in the 84th minute. Yellow card, Takagi.........penalty kick THESPA. Takada lines up for the shot and sends a bullet at Takagi who springs up ad knocks it over the net......no goal, Goat to Hero in an instant.
VERDY is victorious again.
MEN OF THE MATCH
1. Hiramoto-The streak continues. It's funny that his hot streak has coincided with the emergence of Morimoto in training. 5 goals in three games, including 3 game winners.
2. Ohashi-His best performances have taken place in the National. Nice pace and the corner kick brought Verdy back from the brink.
3.Ono-I believe he had a hand in all 3 goals today. Play of the year hustling for the loose ball and setting up Hiramoto on the first goal. Finally, he did something right.
THE RICK REPORT
I really like what I saw from this kid. not polished yet but he has decent speed and good strength. He stood his ground on a couple of knocks and had a nice touch on the ball. It looks like he knows what he wants to do with the ball but isn't quite there yet with the passes. If I had to choose between the 4 Brazilians, I'd pick him to go with Anailson and Basilio over Dedimar. Nice find by Ramos. Defense is a little suspect, but on this team whose isn't?
I like the fact that Verdy is able to fight back after falling behind. What I'm not impressed with is the falling behind part. Verdy could have easily put this game away but they let up and Ota took advantage. Except for Ono and the subs, there wasn't much to be impressed about with the midfield yesterday. Definetely a regression for a 4 that's been playing well. The 3-4-3 shift worked well..............Ramos has been amazing with the subs, I don't think he's made a bad call yet. Thespa is really light on talent.......Shimada and Takada are quality, Ota redeemed himself in the second half and Sotaro Sada is a nice player but the rest of the team is lacking, Shimada was also Dedimar disasterous on the free kicks.
Finally I have to save a special paragraph for the defense and keeper. It's a nightmare. Right now Verdy is playing the lesser lights of J2 but looming in the wings are Vegalta, Consadole, and (can't believe I'm saying this) Yokohama FC. Those are teams with solid D. Those are teams that score on counterattacks and don't make mistakes. I fear danger is coming soon and a back 4 that is like swiss cheese and a Keeper with the reflexes of a Madame Tussaud creation is not fostering confidence.
NEXT MATCH: Tuesday 4/18 vs Vegalta at 7pm in Sendai
I'll post Nick's comments on the game on the main board Tomorrow night (Thanks, Nick!)
I'll try and get a preview for Vegalta tomorrow as well. again if you saw the game and have comments, send em in and I'll give you the board!