Verdy came into Wednesday nights match with revenge on their mind after taking a 3-0 pasting in Sendai during the month of April. As always, things weren't stable in Verdyland. Coming of a 4-0 drubbing of cellar dwelling Thespa Kusatsu, Verdy found itself without leading scorer Hiramoto, and sparkplug Nagai (both due to yellow card accumulation).
Also distressing was the shakeup in the back 4. Out went Sugawara and Fujita and in came former National team defender and Albirex refugee, Keiji Kaimoto, and former Japan youth international and Kashima Antler, Tatsuya Ishikawa. Not crazy about throwing off the balance of a slightly resurgent defense but these guys are quality so we would see how it went.
(VERDY LADIES.......THE BEST PART OF THE FRANCHISE!)
DF KAIMOTO, TOGAWA, HAGIMURA, ISHIKAWA
MF KUBA, NEJIME, KANAZAWA, ONO
FW IIO, SAITO
Wednesday night games stink when you live in Saitama and games are in Tokyo. I lost my ticket and missed the first 39 minutes of the game. I didn't get a program, no postcard either. Amazingly enough, I always get those friggin noisemakers. Anyhow, I did see the replay of Masaki Saito putting in an easy goal after a nice pass from Ono to Kuba and a gorgeous assist off the foot of Kuba. Something had both squads irritated, because they were flopping, diving, complaining and taking cheap shots galore. The refs seemed to keep the cards firmly in pocket and Vegalta would pay for it later.
The first critical blow (and the costliest) would happen to veteran Sendai defender Hiroyuki Shirai who damaged his ACL and is out for at least 4 months. A few minutes later, Masa Saito got out on a breakaway and was taken down from behind in the box by Kosuke Kitani. Automatic red and a penalty. Or rather, 3 penalties......Ono stepped up for the first shot and was stoned by Former Verdy netminder Daijiro Takakuwa. BUT WAIT......The refs found their whistles! Takakuwa was called for coming off his line too early. Vegalta supporters, who had a nice contingent of three seat sections in the corner went primate fecal and threw a fit! Ono lined up again and was stopped again! BUT WAIT.......same call (I think....I'm not really sure why they did two rekicks, so this is speculation).....4 cards would come, including a straight red to backup keeper and total buffoon, Kiyomitsu Kobari. Ohashi (a late sub) would releive the Captain of his duties and put a goal in for a 2-0 lead
The end of the game degenerated into flopping and stalling. Verdy was content to hold the ball and not attack with a 2 man advantage. Saito had a chance but whiffed on a wide open shot, Morimoto did nothing and Verdy didn't try to close the goal differential gap on a team above them. The low point was Sugawara doing his Joga Bonita impression with a one minute dribbling exhibition that had Vegalta giggling.
GK Takagi 6- Not really threatened from what I could see, but had control of his line and didn't make any mistakes. I'm impressed with him more than anyone else during the swoon and surge. I'm coming around
DF 7- I was afraid that the insertion of two new wingbacks would set the team back, especially with a potent group like Vegalta. No worries, Ishikawa and Kaimoto are a huge upgrade.......good passing from the back and never beaten. Just had a sense that nothing was going in for VS.
MF 6.5- Solid, kept up with the potent middle of Sendai and didn't yield. Ono and Kuba played effective ball and they won thier matchup. Solid group right now and I don't see it changing.
FW 5.5- Saito had a hand in both scores and did some nice passing and forced some corners......he also missed a couple of chances so his man of the match reward was a bit dubious at best. I think he's an A mid.......not a striker, He's best with a big ballhog like Hiramoto or a Washington type. Iio was useless and Morimoto wasn't much better.
MAN OF THE MATCH-MASAKI SAITO
Quick Thoughts- Last night was the first game that Verdy looked like a team capable of dominating play. The red card PK fiasco and the injury to the anchor of Vegaltas Defense cast a dark cloud over the victory but the branch play of Kaimoto and Ishikawa was a godsend.
I never want to see Iio in the lineup again.
Here is a link to Rui speaking about something in Japanese and looking greasy as always
Anyhow....roadtrip to Kashiwa and a huge game against frontrunning Reysol.....we'll see if the Verdy Redemption tour keeps running along.
Give me your accounts and thoughts and I'll put em up...Good Night!