Ahhh, late April Fools......couldn't think of a title for the Montedio game.
Anyhow, Verdy took the field against a scrappy Montedio side bound and determined to stop the Goal scoring machine known as Hulk. Was it a case of the Irresistable Force meeting the Immovable object or would this game confound all expectations?
Let's get to it!
Fukuda Tsuchiya Togawa Hattori
Sato Ze Luis Nanami (Tomisawa) Sato(Nagai)
Funakoshi (Inoue) Hulk
It only took 4 minutes for Hulk to make his mark as the burly goal hanger split the defense and drove into the box. Montedio stalwart Leonardo grabbed the striker by the arm in the box and pulled him into the onrushing keeper for a yellow and a penalty. Montedio netminder Kenta Shimizu had no chance as Hulk calmly put it in. The rest of the half would see more of a wrestling match as both teams were content to grab and hold.
The second half looked much like the first until the 60 minute mark, when Taira Inoue and Hideki Nagai were inserted for Sato and Funakoshi. Quick bursts of speed and harassment of the Montedio keeper were the weapons of choice for the energetic young Inoue, who nearly broke through in the 80th minute. Inoue managed to get the ball free from Montedio and take a shot that was deflected by Shimizu. Inoue managed to get the rebound and shoot on a goal free of the prone Montedio keeper. A heady play by one of the back 4 denied Inoue a chance for glory but another deflection went to the trailing Nagai. Unfortunately, Nagai hesitated and wound up his shot, allowing Montedio to deflect the third and stay out of danger.
On the other side, Yoshinori Takagi dove to make an outstanding save on a rocket shot by Montedio striker Tomotaka Kitamura. 1-0 final and a perfectly clean sheet at home for Verdy
Diego did look more lively and in control. His moves weren't so telegraphed and he was distributing much better. Nanami was having a nightmare of a game offensively however as he sprayed errant passes left and right.
Leonardo is one strong dude. He was manhandling Funakoshi and knocking the snot out of Hulk all game. He's a really good centerback who the refs let get physical. That being said, I liked the game Funakoshi played today. He didn't get any shots but he was always in the mix and wore down the center so Inoue could hit with quick bursts.
The one thing I absolutely LOVED today was the second striker (Funakoshi and Inoue) constantly rushing the keeper when Montedio backpassed to him. Inoue was close to prying the ball loose for an open net on one occasion. I don't understand why teams don't do it more. I think it serves a purpose DEFENSIVELY because it rushes the keeper into a quick decision and messes up the distribution.
The field was really slick on the visitors end.
Takagi looks like a completely different keeper.......And I'm not talking about his bleach blond Madonnaesque haircut either. The guy is commanding his box and you can see the confidence. His punches have a purpose unlike last year and he hasn't really been out of position.
Hulk didn't want to pass yesterday............it was the worst game I've seen him play so far. He was still a monster on his one man drives but it would have been nice to see him dish off to the open man a coule of times.
Finally, my man of the match was DF Kensuke Fukuda. He was constantly getting my attention with his forays into the defensive middle, breaking up plays and covering for Togawa and Tsuchiya. Great game by the youngster.
Next up is a battle with Fukuoka down south. A very important contest for 2 reasons. One, it would push Avispa back even deeper into the abyss of J2. Secondly, Vegalta and Consadole battle it out on Sunday.
Former player sightings
Yuhei Ono signed with lower division squad Fagiano Okayama on March 30th. Ono becomes the third Okayama man with ties to Verdy, joining Kohei Kiyama and Kenta Tsurumaki.