The undefeated Tokyo Verdy 1969 took the pitch today against a very defeated Cerezo Osaka (AKA FC Molly Ringwald-thanks for reminding me Aaron!) in something that was more appropriate for Hulk hogan and less appropriate for Givanildo De Souza.
Ze Luis Nanami
Fukuda Togawa Tsuchiya Hattori
BENCH: Yoshihara, Nagai (81 Sato), Tomisawa (89 Nanami), Inoue (89 Funakoshi), Ono
Cerezo came out ready to brawl, it was apparent at the get go when they started to take down Hulk on drives. The volatile Brazilian scoring machine took the bait and sent a forearm shiv to the back of Kenjiro Ezoe in what would be the first of many cards to come. If truth be told, the "star" of today's contest was the erratic and moody Kenji Oogaya, who handed out cards like a 99 yen shop campaign girl hands out tissue.......erraticly and with various degrees of enthusiasm.
In all honesty, it wasn't the number of cards........Cerezo instigated and Verdy willingly retaliated....it was the unevenness. Hulk was fouled on numerous occasions and was not rewarded with a free kick. On the other hand, Hulk gave out some punishment and went over the line on a couple of occasions and probably should have gotten a second yellow. One fellow who did pick his second was MF Takuya Miyamoto on a tangle in the box during the 68th minute.
Bikkuri Donkey (AKA Yuzo Funakoshi) was the hapless victim of many shots and pulls and even one two-handed push down on a header for no call. He was rewarded in the 80th minute for his troubles with a PK when Ezoe pulled down (sort of) Donkey in the box.
J2's super scorer lined up against Cerezo's less than stellar keeper and the results were predictable...1-0 Verdy.
After the substitution of Yuskue Sato for Hideki Nagai, Verdy opened up the offense and Hulk pulled a breakaway on the side. A nice looping pass to the looming Funakoshi led to a soft roller past Yoshida and another shocking celebration. 2-0 Verdy
I was a little shocked to see Sato in the starting lineup......don't get me wrong, I think it was the right move, but I couldn't see Rui displacing his chosen man in the middle. I think Sato played the best game of any Verdy midfielders today. Takagi, and the back 4 were very efficient again, only 1 real dangerous chance really occured by Yasuhito Morishima, which Takagi swallowed up.
I liked Takagi's distribution today, very quick and decisive. Unlike last year, his punch saves were with a purpose and led to runs up the box. He wasn't doing that at all last year. Kikuchi has really turned him around from 2005.
Diego is a mess. Part of it is his fitness, which still isn't there. The other part of it is his position on the field......Ramos is using him in a distributor role, and he doesn't have the skills for that right now (or he isn't showing them). Diego needs to be in a position to ball hawk and scavenge for goals. I think he was more forward in the Kashiwa formation and he didn't have to dribble to get his chances. Numerous times, he'd get the ball and instead of makig a streaking run or quick cut, he'd stop, make a very wide turn like a mack truck, and lumber in the center or pass of to someone in a non-attack position. His defense looked better though.
My one MAJOR criticism of Rui today was not moving sooner to sub in for an offensive weapon when Cerezo went to 10 men. It was fortunate that Funakoshi go tthe call in the box with the unstable decision making of Oogawa, because Verdy did not look like they were going to get a score on their own. Inoue should have been in for somebody sooner.
Saturday is a well deserved day of rest for Verdy. The next game is at home against Montedio Yamagata on the 31st.........We'll see if the rest is good or bad.
BTW.....Here are the highlights