Well it looks like the move of Tadashi Karai to Chiba is already starting to pay dividends. According to the Sponichi smut rag, Tatsunori Arai is on his way out of Sagan Tosu and on his way to the defending Nabisco Cup Champs JEF United Ichihara Chiba. Arai, the number one Japanese goal scorer would be the second big goal scorer to move out, following Leandro.
The potentially bad news is that the loan deal for Kyoto Sanga forward Teruake Kurobe has been cancelled, meaning that the former Urawa Red will be facing Verdy 4 times next year as well as numerous others. In fact, Kyoto has done a great job of keeping the core intact that ran wild over J2 competition just 2 years ago.
If you haven't already heard, Urawa defended their Emperor's cup, becoming the first team in the J League era to defend their title. The defense was not a thing of beauty and there were numerous "discrepancies" that might have the more cynical fan claiming the title is tainted (3 home games, two creampuff opponents at the start, including a squad that just lost their position in J1, PK's set in the home goal instead of the neutral goal, a stop overturned by a referee with less than stellar credentials, a Gamba side that couldn't hit the side of a barn in the final......OK call me cynical!!!!)
There were some guys that shone through for the REDS who (to be fair) won it with a B squad.
Here are my three stars
Shinji Ono- Not so much in the final, but the rounds previous he really was the catalyst for victories over Jubilo and Kashima. 3 timely goals helped wake the squad up when they were dead. A healthy Ono is not only good for Urawa, he's good for Japan as well, especially now that they are struggling to find an identity
Takahito Soma- The pressure was on the former Verdy man to fill in for the departed Alex and he did relaively well, good hustle and pace found him involved alot, if he keeps it up Urawa won't miss Alex at all and he might get some notice for the National squad
Ryota Tsuzuki- With the dearth of talent at the keeper position in J1, it would be beyond criminal if Tsuzuki found himself on the bench for a second season. The man singlehandedly kept Urawa in the game until that less than inspiring goal finally rolled in. Tsuzuki, Soma, and Ono all handled their stints on the pine with class and it's good to see these three get a little credit for not only being talents but good characters as well.
Speaking of Urawa.......their budget hit 7,000,000,000 yen this year (almost 30 million pounds or 58 million dollars US) making them the first superclub in Japan. With the media churning out weekly stories on them and a fan base that dwarfs the rest of J1, it looks like there is no stopping the Red Menace.....if they win the ACL, it's over.....they claim the title as Japan's team.
With the new signings, Verdy finds itself at 28 players.......if we leave out the new amateur signings for a moment, the starting lineup looks like this maybe
If Nanami happens......and it should, by my estimation the team needs 2 strikers and another keeper and the team is solid. Much better position than last year