Soilent Green took it's first foray into the Ancestral home of Tokyo Verdy 1969 to see an old school rivalry take place in historic Hiratsuka Stadium. Both teams have been eerily similar as of late, priding themselves on rejuvenated defenses while looking for answers on offense.
The last time these teams faced off in Kanagawa, Shonan came away with a 3-0 drubbing. One of the players to inflict damage is current Verdy midfielder Yusuke Sato, who notched the final score in the 89th minute to add insult to Verdy injury.
Defying expectations, Rui Ramos decided to go yet again with an experimental lineup, this time pairing out of position MF Tsuyoshi Yoshitake alongside Hulk in hopes of getting someone up front to serve the muscular striker some good scoring chances.
DF Fukuda Tsuchiya Togawa Hattori
MF Tomisawa Nanami
FW Hulk Yoshitake
Bench: Yoshihara, Sugawara (62 Nanami),Nagai (59 Ono), Inoue (86 Yoshitake), Sato
The first half was great........if you like seeing centerbacks clearing balls out of the back. Play was really dominated by Tsuchiya for Verdy and Jean and Saito for Shonan. Neither team produced anything dangerous, instead choosing to try and get free kicks by falling down. One humourous exchange saw Adiel fake an injury and go down like he had been shot.....seconds later Hulk performed the same act. As the ball was rolling out of bounds, both Brazilian stars were rolling on the ground in some sort of psychic pain.
The second half kind of had the same feel to it, until referee Masaki Nabeshima took control. 10 minutes in, Kenta Togawa picked up a yellow, 2 subs and 3 yellows later, Verdy found themselves 2 men down and looking at a very daunting task. A mere 6 minutes after Hideki Nagai and Kenta Togawa were shown the door, attacking midfielder Nozomu Kato hit paydirt on a breakaway score. With Verdy forced to push up for the equalizer, Adiel and Daisuke Tonoike were able to score two opportunistic goals late to make for a misleading 3-0 scoreline.
I'm not sure if Ze Luis is injured or he got pulled because of the flub during the Kyoto game. Tomisawa did a decent job in his place until the team got down two men and he was forced to play back. He whiffed on one of the two late goals, leading to an easy put in. Nanami baffles me. He's great on defense but he has really bogged down the offense with some of his ill advised passing.
Did anybody notice Harutaka Ono today? Me neither, he didn't really do a thing today offensively, the good news was neither did Nozomu Kato while he was in so I won't harp on him too much.
Remember when I said Togawa couldn't make a mental mistakes today? There was the game, right there. Hideki Nagai didn't help matters much, but that second card seemed extreme from my vantage.
Yukio Tsuchiya looked great again. Actually his pushing the ball up actually gave Verdy their best offensive chances today as well.
Hulk outshot the rest of the squad 5 to 1 today. There was one moment where he weaved through 5 Shonan defenders only to have the rest of Verdy standing flatfooted, watching him. Yoshitake had the closest thing to a goal with a late isolation on the goalkeeper. He wasn't horrible and did a couple of nice things but seriously, THAT'S THE BEST OPTION AT STRIKER? I'm not sure what Hiroyama and Saito did to piss Rui off but apologize! And nobody at the game seemed to know what the deal was with Funakoshi either.
Fukuda looks a little shell-shocked out there.........his defense is allright but he's not serving up balls well at all. Hattori had kind of a down game on that end as well.
Diego did manage to push into the middle more and had some nice one touch passes with Hulk. It looks like the Brazilians are kind of segregating themselves more offensively from the rest of the squad, which could be part of the problem with the offense.
I think the Rui death watch is about to begin................last year's two straight promotion teams grabbed ahold of the lead early and never let go. I don't the good folks at CyberAgent are soon to forget that after shelling out alot of money for big talent. Considering that former National Team coach and Yokohama F Marinos man Takeshi Okada is still hanging out without a job, I'm not sure I'd get too comfortable if I was Ramos.
That's all for today.....I leave you with this little nugget 5-3-2-2-1-1-1-0