Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's been awhile

Sorry...bad back and a nasty cold put me out of action for over a week

Tsuyoshi Yoshitake got injured in the inagural sattelite game against Venforet Kofu and is out for 6 months. The good news is Kaz Iio scored so I'm sure he has pole vaulted back up to 3rd striker......UGGGH

Takuya Yamada is on trial at Yokohama FC...if he signs, it will be the third team that he helps go down to relegation in three years.

3-5-2= 3-0-0 Who would've thought that the system that caused so much disaster in 2005 would resuscitate the ambitions of this year's squad. It takes a brave man to rejigger his whole system in the middle of the season. Kudos to Rui Ramos.
Highlight vs Tokushima
Highlight vs Avispa
Highlight vs Shonan

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

BLOG IN 60 SECONDS: Avispa vs Verdy

Tomorrow is another fabulous midweek rumble, which drives down attendance and seems to bring out the worst in Verdy. Anyhow, the squad plays against Avispa Fukuoka, the team that started the 7 game shame spiral which dented the credibility of Rui Ramos and sent Kazuki Hiramoto on a one way ticket out of Tokyo.

The roles have seemed to reverse however as Fukuoka finds itself in a mini-slump, suffering a bad loss to lower rung Sagan Tosu and collapsing to Kyoto after staking a 2 goal lead at home.

Avispa will be without the services of Kiyokazu Kudo, who is serving a one game suspension and Australian import Alvin Ceccoli, who is banged up.

My guess for tomorrow







Anybody catching the game, please send in a report!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Always outnumbered, Always outgunned: Verdy vs Shonan

When I first saw the name of this man in Verdy's starting 11, a sense of fear and dread overcame me. I was almost ready to leave the stadium. My views on Shigenori Hagimura have been well documented. When I later saw that the new formation would be 3-5-2 with Fukuda and Hattori playing a midfield role and Hagimura as the lone man in the middle, I thought, finally.....Verdy will lose 12-0 and the embarassment will be so great, Ramos will be on his way out........I'll stay for this, some cute girls are around me, it's a beautiful day as always at historic Kokuritsu and I got nothing else to do.
Well dear readers, the end of world is upon us.....Hell has truly frozen over and pigs are circling my roof in majestic flight................
I thought Shigenori Hagimura was the best player on the field.
Oh, I realize that Shinya Yoshihara stood on his head on a couple of beautiful saves and Hulk was the most dangerous player on the field, practically spoon feeding Tsuyoshi Yoshitake his first goal in a Verdy uniform. For my money, Hagimura performed the most consistent performance, consistently shutting down the runs by Adiel and the rest of the dangerous Shonan mids. Seriously, the only dangerous chances by Bellmare were handed to them by the inept officiating who ran Kensuke Fukuda on a foul second yellow call. 52 minutes of man down footy and for the lions share Verdy looked like the more dangerous squad.
And Hagimura was the anchor. Part of me died just saying that.
Surprisingly, the team looked far more effective with the lumbering Diego up top and Hiroyama dropped back into his more natural role of midfielder after Fukuda left.
I won't judge the squad by this performance harshly considering the ref wanted to decide it and failed......I will just applaud Ramos and the squad for a gutsy performance that was light years away from the disgrace of early May.
I still worry about a 3-5-2 with an erratic keeper and a central defender who is putrid but for today I will give the permed devil his due......his gameplan worked to near perfection. Next game is against Fukuoka on Wednesday......I won't be there.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Off Topic: Yokohama FC

I got a chance to see the debut of Kazuki Hiramoto for Yokohama FC yesterday. He looked strong, the decision making wasn't quite there but the runs were decent. A couple of other notable former Verdy men were in attendance. Shingo Nejime made a late appearance for the squad and did nothing. Jun Tamano didn't play. Kazu had a couple of nice dives for free kicks. Omiya man Yoshiyuki Kobayashi had a reasonable game with two shots and quality decision making throughout the game. Daigo and Naoto Sakurai were both out for Omiya. Yokohama FC goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno was competent in goal, unfortunately getting left out to dry on a header off a set piece.

2 shots total for team Kazu.

Today I will see another Kanagawa squad take on Verdy when Shonan hits the pitch. Rumors are circulating that Verdy has been heavily toying with a 3-5-2 formation.

Maybe this?




MF--Ze Luis---------------------------------------------------------Kanazawa---



Thursday, May 17, 2007

Killoran has left the building

For the second day in a row, Verdy has shed itself of a member of the 2007 dream team. Eugene Killoran, a 19 year old defender was released after appearing in no games in his year tenure. Killoran hasn't appeared in any practice games for the past month so the move was not completely shocking. It looks from his comments on Verdy's main site that he is currently focusing on school. Good luck Eugene and hopefully you can resume your career after college

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy Birthday J League!

14 years ago today Kawasaki Verdy and Yokohama Marinos took the field to kick off what would become a new national phenomenon. Included in that opening lineup was current Verdy manager Rui Ramos, former Cerezo head man Satoshi Tsunami (who notched the first yellow card in J League history, Head Coash Tetsuji Hashiratani, and current Verdy sub Hideki Nagai.

19 minutes in, Brazilian import Mayer would notch the first goal in Verdy and J League history. Unfortunately, the squad would fall 2-1.
Happy Birthday to the J League and the birth of the New Yomiuri club

Hiramoto to Yokohama FC

Moments ago, the team announced that lifelong Verdy man Kazuki Hiramoto is being sent up to the big time on a 7 month loan. Hiramoto will join King Kazu, Shingo Nejime, and Jun Tamano in possibly the ugliest uniforms ever as he joins up with Yokohama FC. Hiramoto passed up offers to sign with JEF Chiba in order to help Verdy regain promotion. While having flashes of brilliance in J2 under the helm of Ramos, it never seemed the forward was comfortable with the permed one, fading in and out at various times during the 2006 campaign.
Injuries at the start of this year slowed Hiramoto and he never had much of a chance to feature in the revamped lineup. With the drop of Takagi from the squads first 16, you have to wonder if CyberAgent is trying to purge the last vestiges of the 2005 squad.
Footage from the Montedio game Didn't see the game.......Verdy tied, what do you want from me?
Speaking of the 2005 squad......
Is Omiya hoping to recreate the magic? Reports are that Takashi Hirano and Angel of Death Takuya Yamada have come in for trials with the Saitama squad. Seriously, if they both are gonna trade players back and forth, just merge the friggin would save me a ton of money!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pull up a chair and enjoy the show!

GK ----------------------------------Yoshihara-----------------------------------
DF Fukuda----------Tsuchiya---------------------Tomisawa--------------Hattori
MF ----Kanazawa----------------------------------------------------Ze Luis-------
FW -----------------Hulk-------------------------Hiroyama-------------------------
BENCH: Shibasaki-----Hagimuuuuuuuuuura-----Nagai-------Ono-------Funakoshi--
Actually, I think Lil Kim is more of a Reds fan myself
On with the show!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Different Streak Approaching?

I'm showing you pictures of three of Montedio's most important players. Leandro is their captain, the man that anchors a tough defense. Yohei Toyoda is the team's leading socrer and main threat up top. Masaru Akiba is an anchor in the middle for the squad. All three have been ruled out for the upcoming game between a Verdy team still in the middle of a tumultuos (and still unresolved) period which threatened the reign of Rui the Fro and a Montedio side who finds themselves atop the division. The April 1st contest surely was a game for fools because not even the most partizan Yamagata supporter could have imagined that it would be Montedio in 1st and Verdy hovering near the drain.
The key matchup in this contest will be the new Verdy power trio of Hulk, Diego, and Nozomi Hiroyama against the pairing of Shogo Kobara and whoever coach Yasuhiro Higuchi decides to slot in for Leonardo.
The number one candidate for the job is rookie Takuya Sonoda, who has made two appearances this season.
Potential Verdy Lineup
GK Yoshihara
DF Fukuda---Tsuchiya---Tomisawa---Hattori
MF Sugawara
MF Kanazawa Ze Luis
MF Diego
FW Hulk Hiroyama
On paper, it's simple. Control the ball, punish the new guy in center defense, and limit the mistakes.
Somehow Montedio has managed to come up with heart and effort far beyond the sum of their parts to inch into first place. The first key will be for Ze Luis and Kanazawa to take out the branch defenders who control the ball and start the offense.
The second thing is quick movements and decisions to keep Montedio back on their heels and not bodying up on the key offensive players. Montedio wants a slow, physical game where they can wear down the middle and get off a chance or two to steal the game. It's mundane and hard to watch, but it's effective. If Verdy can get an early goal, it will force Montedio to take chances and then the floodgates can open up.
Finally, Fukuda and Hattori have got to clean up the defensive slop they've been collectively throwing out for almost a month and a half. There is a good chance that the squad can build on the nice result they got in Kyoto. I don't think anyone has been blown out by the last place squad at home and beat a first place squad on the road in the same month, but I could be wrong.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Tale of Two Managers

One of the former legends of Tokyo Verdy 1969 got the axe today, the other got a repreive. 1 point seperates Cerezo Osaka and Tokyo Verdy in the standings but the clubs are light years apart in terms of how they do things. Satoshi Tsunami got 13 games to turn around a franchise filled with very young talent and old retreads and nothing much in between. By game 3, pressure was mounting to make things happen.
Around game 10 (my speculation) Cerezo was fishing for new coaches. Game 12, they had a guy picked out and game 13 was the perfect time to cast aside a man who has found himself in hard luck situations. Seriously, what a joke Cerezo is......13 games to turn around a franchise who completely showed no heart in getting dumped to J2 and then saw their talent flee to other venues.
Meanwhile, the other legend, Rui Ramos, sitting on an embarrassment of talent riches gets a reprieve from the "braintrust" at CyberAgent. 7 losses in a row brought to a close by a 1 man show. Seriously, do they think that the 1 game is the true Verdy and the month long slump is a mirage?
Granted it was impressive how Hulk dismantled Kyoto, but it seems like the game was a perfume to cover up the smell of the giant green turd Ramos and company have served up during the 2007 campaign.
There's a lesson here somewhere and I imagine it involves cameras and goats but I'm not quite seeing it right now.
But hey Kyoto, thanks for rolling over and completely #@$%ing up the season! Douchebags!

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Seriously, I'm speechless. Verdy came out after a putrid effort against Mito Hollyhock and took it to Kyoto Sanga. The fact that Sanga came out a little flat after a huge win against Vegalta Sendai wasn't a shock. They've done it before. The shock was that a team who has been dead in the water could come out and post 4 goals against a fairly decent defensive side.

Could it be a swan song for a lame duck coach? Or a desperate attempt to save the job of a guy who hand picked every one of these players.

The lineup

GK-Yoshihara (Brought in this year)
DF-Fukuda (signed this year)
DF-Tsuchiya (former teammate signed this year)
DF-Tomisawa (brought in last year from Sendai....came back after a disastrous year)
DF-Hattori (brought in this year)
MF-Ze Luis (brought in last year)
MF-Sugawara (brought in last year and resigned after a lackluster year)
MF-Kanazawa (brought in last year and talked into reupping for another loan)
MF-Diego (brought in this year)
MF-Hiroyama (lured back to the team last year)
FW- Hulk (brought in this year)

This was Rui's squad and he was gonna go down swinging with them.

It looked bad at the start, Kyoto FW Andre outmuscled and turned around Hattori for a header to put the Sanga up 1-0. Then the Hulk erupted. Showing the early season flair he lacked during the slump, Hulk struck to even the score. He would add two more and put a shot near goal that Diego would clean up for the eventual 4.

I still can't see the squad continuing with Ramos at the helm. After game comments were limited to game related questions we wait.

It's been awhile since I've been able to say anything nice about a Verdy performance.

No negativity......Good job today.

Here are the highlights courtesy of Tasui 105

Saturday, May 05, 2007


The Lineup

GK Yoshihara

DF Fukuda--Tsuchiya--Tomisawa--Hattori

MF Kanazawa--Sugawara--Ze Luis-- Diego

FW Hulk--Hiroyama

BENCH: Shibasaki--HAGIFRIGGINMURA--Ono--Nagai--Funakoshi

Why should Verdy care about this man?

Who is this man, first of all? Let me answer that.....his name is Levir Culpi and he currently coaches Atletico Minero. Sports Hochi is all over the story that Culpi has met with the club in Osaka and will become manager after the Brazil State Championships finish at the end of the month. Culpi managed Cerezo 10 years ago and led the squad to a less than inspiring 11th place finish (11th Suntory, 8th Nicos for an overall 11th place finish)

Two questions come to mind. One, why are you firing a coach after only 12 games? After the initial 3 game stumble, the team has turned it around to grab a respectable 15 points in 9 games. Considering the team is built around very young talent and old retreads, I'm not sure what Cerezo was actually expecting. They were a mid-table level team with mid-table talent and SURPRISE, they are mid-table.

Two, How could this affect Verdy? Well, if Satoshi Tsunami is fired, there is a possibility that he and not Hashiratani takes over as the man in charge. His resume and experience is more extensive than Hashiratani so he seemingly would be a more reasonable choice for a team in turmoil. Was there some cooperation between the Cerezo front office and Verdy in orchestrating a coach swap? Probably not, but it makes you wonder about the timing of Cerezo changing coaches this early in a guys tenure.

At the very least, I expect Tsunami will rejoin the squad in some sort of role if he is actually relieved of duties at Cerezo.

Ramos last stand?

This photo was taken by Daily Sports online of Ramos seemingly yelling at a chair. Like a hobo. Who drinks too much. Seriously.

I guess he threw a mini fit during the game against Kokushikan University, so forgive me if I have no idea what he's going to do in his potential swan song.

I do know it would take a miraculous performance bordering on herculean......goals would have to rain from the heavens, Kyoto would have to be decimated for a full 90 minutes. It would have to be swift, strong, and impressive in all facets of the game and honestly, I don't think the team has it in them.

Practice was cancelled today. Not a sign that things are going well.

Will he do something completely drastic, like changing to a 3-5-2? The team hasn't really practiced it. Will he go with a completely revamped back 4?

Who knows?

Gora has a preview of what Kyoto might look like here

My feeling is, the team will fight for about 35 to 40 minutes, let up a goal and fall apart....losing by a 3-1 mark. But they could show some heart. Who knows.

I don't think the players want to go through this again

Friday, May 04, 2007

First Quarter Grades

Yesterday's bloodbath marked the end of the first quarter for campaign 2007

Now is as good a time as any to give the players grades for the first quarter

Hulk- The mercurial forward has been one of the few bright spots on an increasingly dismal campaign. Consistently driving forward and taking shots when the rest of the squad watches. The only one who can create his own shot. Sometimes you have to wonder if it's a good or bad thing that he is so creative because the rest of the team tends to get complacent waiting for him to score.

GRADE B+ Stop picking up stupid yellows

Funakoshi- The early season momentum he brought was stifled by an ill advised benching against Avispa. It seems like the team thrives when he's able to put a goal in or get an assist. Who knows where he fits in the new scheme

GRADE B He's done more than was expected early but has faded in recent games.

Hiramoto- Not very impressive in the few appearances he's made this year. Still looks hurt though so I'll hold my comments for now. The two yellows in a blowout shows his head is still not completely right.


Iio- 3 games, no shots. The slump started when he appeared and the has struggled ever since. Coincidence? Of course it is....I can't stand him as a player but even I won't go thaaaaaaaat far. Still.............

GRADE F I don't know how he scored 4 in J1 last year...........maybe he just needs the right coach

Yoshitake- He's played hard in the two games he appeared in but looks overmatched. At forward he hustled against a stout Shonan defense but didn't come up with much. Mito made him look really bad.

GRADE C- I think he would be better served as a bench player, coming in late for energy bursts

Inoue- I love watching the kid play, he has a constant motor and great pace. Unfortunately, he has yet to convert it into points. His shot is a little weak and off target. He does create havoc in his role though.

GRADE C Great effort and heart of a champ but it's not translating into anything tangible.

Ono- The captain has really been one of the biggest busts this season. I'm not completely sure it's his fault because he looks woefully out of position in the wing spot and he doesn't seem healed from last year's Hernia. However his tentative play on offense and questionable decision making has been depressing

GRADE D+ You have to play better if you wear the band. 2 years of disappointment.

DIEGO- The single BIGGEST disappointment has been DIEGO who showed up woefully out of shape and has been a shell of his former self. He has demonstrated neither the intellectual acumen nor the sweet touch that helped propel Kashiwa Reysol to the big time last campaign. I was shocked to see that he was available. Now I understand why.

GRADE F Maybe the new formation will allow him to show the same form from last year. If not, he goes down as a worse signing than Dedimar.

Nanami- Not a great campaign for a legendary player. Even before the injury, he was slowing down the offense with errant passes and lack of pace. His defense has been pretty solid however, without him, the team has really broken down.

GRADE C+ I've been a little harsh on him but I've seen Togawa without him and I gotta say I might be rating him a bit low.

Ze Luis- Playing very well before the minor injury. Lately though, he's been disappointing. Looked like last year with the tentative performance against Mito.

GRADE B He's been much better this year than last. When he plays confident he's a great player.

Kanazawa- ERRATIC......follows up a good game with a mediocre one. To be fair he's been probably one of the three best players during the malaise.

GRADE B Why he was playing D mid instead of wing was beyond me. 3 goals in 4 games is a pretty good rate.

Sato- Great start but a poor finish to the first quarter. He needs to play in the D mid role more. It seems like he is also better suited as a sub and a change of pace guy like

GRADE C+ Maybe he'll refind his form and touch.

Nagai- Surprise of the season for me. He has been superb in the 30 minute role off the bench. There's been a couple of games where he has jump started the offense with a good run and timely pass.

GRADE B+ Good to see him effective and in shape this year.

Tomisawa- DISASTER. Between the bad play, bad cards, and bad decisions, he has been one of the teams worst players. Looked good in preseason, but he doesn't seem to have it.


Sugawara- Has not offered much in the time he has got. Mediocre, just like last year


Tsuchiya- The best signing of the year for the squad. Can you honestly imagine how bad the defense would be without the bald man in the middle. His constant hustle and coverage has saved Verdy on a few occasions.


Togawa- It's a shame that a guy with all the tools to be a great defender has a bad head. How times did he get burned yesterday? Awful. How about the two cards against Shonan to turn a 0-0 tie into a farce. His decision making is atrocious. And with Nanami out, teams seem to focus on him.

GRADE D Big dissapointment this year.

Hattori- God he looked old against Mito. For a guy who's supposed to be a leader and show character, he has made some really bad blunders. Might have single-handedly ended Ramos career.

GRADE D Is he contemplating retirement?

Takagi- Looked excellent early but against Tokushima he was woefully out of position. His confidence looks shot.

GRADE C After about 10 shots, he starts to lose his focus. He's cracking.

Yoshihara- Wow, I was having Mizuhara flashbacks with his lack of movement in the box. Granted, the defense didn't help

GRADE D Is there a plan C?

Hiroyama- I save him for last because I have been his biggest booster this season. Yesterday was his big chance to get back into the fold for verdy and he disappointed, greatly. The team needed a guy to step up.......I thought it would be him, but he was constantly out-muscled and out-hustled.


Thursday, May 03, 2007


Various newspapers are reporting the Verdy head coach Tetsuji Hashiratani will be the new manager of Tokyo Verdy 1969 after the team returns from Kyoto. Hashiritani was a legendary defender and midfielder for the predecessor to Yokohama F Marinos (Nissan Club) in the JSL before moving on to Yomiuri Club/Kawasaki Verdy in 1992. Hashiritani previously held stints as a position coach with the Urawa Reds and a short stint as interim manager of Consadole Sapporo. His record was a less than stellar 1 win 6 losses witht the then struggling Consadole side.

The Verdy 196.9 site already shows the team starting to change formation. In a friendly loss against Kokushikan University, the squad went with a 3-5-2 strategy

If I were to guess what type of lineup would be set out with a new 3-5-2, it would be like this

Hulk Hiramoto


Hattori Kanazawa

Ze Luis Ono

Togawa Tsuchiya Fukuda


I fear for the defense in this formation but the offense would get going again, making for alot of fun, high scoring contests. A big unknown is who Hashiratani rates as starters and who will be satellie fodder. There are some huge unknowns going on with this's like the old curse, "May you live in interesting times!"


If you can stomach it, here is a collection of the very WORST of Tokyo Verdy 1969....VERSION 2007. Mito looked good however so if you want to appreciate a hard working squad, take a look.

Finally, Verdy will go for a club record 8 losses in a row when they take on the rising Kyoto Sanga FC in Kyoto. One thing they have going for them is Kyoto has been disappointing after big wins. The Sanga managed to upend Vegalta in Sendai to drop them into 4th and give them their first loss of the year. Actually, Freaky Thursday saw the rise of Avispa Fukuoka and Montedio Yamagata into the two safe positions for promotion.


If today's game against Mito was intended to be some sort of statement it came across loud and clear. Today, Tokyo Verdy 1969 hit the lowest point for a once proud franchise. THE TEAM HAS SPOKEN.....they don't want Rui as manager. Coming in, Mito Hollyhock had scored 3 goals in 11 contests. 2 of their starting defenders have been declared out for up to 6 months.

Everything was set up for this to be a glorious return to form for Verdy, a weakened opponent, a new lineup with a credentialed back line, a return to the National where they put up 5 goals on a now rejuvenated Thespa Kusatsu. It should have been easy.

9 minutes in, it looked like Mito was gonna give the game to Verdy when Mito keeper Koji Homma deflected the ball into his own net from a Hiramoto kick nowhere close to going in. It was all downhill from there. The trio of MF Hiromasa Kanazawa, FW Kohei Nishino, and FW Yuya Iwadate combined to cut through a feeble Verdy defense and control play in the middle. Iwadate was especially effective in making former National Team player Toshihiro Hattori look old and feeble with his constant motor and hustle.

The team lost their composure early and late, started to panic after the first goal and finally quit after the second. Late in the game a sequence ensued where Hattori made an ill-advised play in the box to give up a penalty shot, Hiramoto made a rough tackle to get his second yellow and Tsuchiya picked up a yellow arguing the play.

It seemed like the Verdy staff expected it to happen because at halftime, extra security guards moved into position in front of the supporters section. 15 minutes to the close extra security moved in around the pitch. Finally after 90 minutes of the most gutless, brainless, and tactless performances in Verdy history, the whistle was blown and the players headed over to the supporters.........who booed and heckled the team on a worthless performance. A few angry supporters threw beverages and other things down on the humiliated squad, who bowed in a symbol of shame.

For his part, Ramos sat slumped on his bench with his legs crossed, sensing the end of a disappointing career as the head of the team he made famous. He walked past the throngs of media hungry for a comment on his future as manager, left the press conference in the hands of the Verdy brass and possibly for the first time in his life didn't speak. He didn't need to.....the message was loud and's over.

In all honesty, I kind of liked the lineup he fielded when I first saw it. I might have tweaked it a bit but I thought they would do a much better job then they did. The side featuring Hattori and Togawa was putrid today. Actually nobody showed up for Verdy. It was the first time the team functioned as a unit.........everybody worked together to thouroughly embarass themselves, their coach, their fans, and Verdy. And Mito for their part played like a hungry, scrappy group of players who would bite, scratch, and claw their way to victory. They were a joy to watch......11 guys playing loose and balls out to get a victory, enjoying every moment.

At the end of the game, I (and Furtho from the G!G!O!A! site ) got a chance to meet Vendo from the Mito blog. The guy was happier than any person I have ever seen before, and justifiably so. The Mito fans were wearing team shirts from different squads for some odd reason. They were all overjoyed at the performance and amazing result on the field.

The Verdy supporters were very quiet when I passed them, like someone had died. The hopes of a preseason filled with acquisitions equal to none and the promise of top division football lay crushed on the historic National Stadium ground. After a mere 12 games, the season has spun out of control.

This is what the view is like from the bottom of the barrel.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

2 Games

Daily Sports is reporting that Rui Ramos has 2 games to turn it around or he's out

Hope you guys don't miss the "Thespa" reporting too much!


So you tell me how to root tomorrow. I have no clue. What I do know is this, without Rui Ramos, there would be no Tokyo Verdy. Like it or not, Ramos was the man that bridged the gap from Yomiuri Club to the champions in the early years of the J League. Without Rui Ramos, there would possibly have not been a Wagner Lopes, an Alessandro Santos, a Marcus Tulio Tanaka, a Robert Cullen, or a Mike Haavenar. An argument can be made that Rui Ramos was the single most important foreign born player ever to appear in the J League. So how do I root tomorrow? A legend takes the field tomorrow in what could be the beginning of the end of his service for Verdy. No matter what he's said in today's tabloids (He's backtracked, saying that he'd see how they play against Kyoto as well before making his decision on quitting) tomorrow is the game.

There is no way he could survive after losing to the leagues worst squad. He can't fall back on the excuse that two of his Brazilians are out. He can't fall back on the excuse that he's had injuries. There are no more excuses. He made the statement that this was the game.

It's no secret that I haven't been a fan of Rui Ramos from the start. I've questioned his reliance on players who were his contemporaries. I've questioned his continued selection of players who look out of their element. I've questioned his choice of player positions, seemingly sticking square pegs in round holes time and time again.

I have a confession to make, part of me wants Ramos to pick a team of his cronies and golden boys and have Mito come out and run the score up in an embarassing fashion. Deep down, I'd rather be right. The other part of me wants to see him turn it around and make a comeback and prove me wrong. Because it would be a great story. Honestly, the worst thing could be a 1-0 win where the team plays lackluster and wins on a fortuitous bounce and convinces themselves that everything is O.K.

So I don't know what to root for. My gut says a loss would start a chain reaction that can't be predicted. I'm sure Hashiratani would take over for a little while until some high priced guy from god-knows-where comes in and.......who knows? The season for intensive purposes would be shot, the new guy could be just as inept, choosing lineups filled with the likes of Hagimura, Iio, and Ono, playing slow non-productive football.

I don't think Rui can handle the job. I think the statements of resignation illustrate that part of him has already quit, and some of the performances have shown that a few of the "character" guys have failed him as well.

Tomorrow will be tough to watch.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Heat Index

Consadole Sapporo gets the nod again as the team of the month. How they are doing it is simple.....DEFENSE. 7 clean sheets in 11 contests. The one time the defense broke down, 4 goals were scored by a less than explosive defense. Even with the two titles, they can't make the top of the heat index. That designation belongs to.........

1. VEGALTA SENDAI- (Last month 2)11 game unbeaten streak to start the season, tying the record with 2003 Champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima and 2005 Crown Winner Kyoto (Purple) Sanga. Game 12 will be tough, with Kyoto hoping to preserve their record.

2. CONSADOLE SAPPORO- (Last month 3) Toshiya Miura always seems to get his squads to start fast out of the gate. He has continued true to form with a first place start to the season. Beware the swoon in an Omiya fan, I've seen it up close.

3. AVISPA FUKUOKA-(Last month 5) Good month for the hornets, going 4-2-1 and picking up points against Consadole in Tokyo. Something bugs me about their performances and Alvin Ceccoli looks like a bust but they have got the results. Alex and Lincoln are forming a potent one-two punch.

4. MONTEDIO YAMAGATA- (Last Month 7) A good month was capped by a 4-0 drubbing of an in form Shonan Bellmare squad. Even with the 4 goal outburst, the scoring has been lackluster. Don't get comfortable.

5. SHONAN BELLMARE-(Last month 4) Hard to drop them a spot after 4 big wins but losing like that to Montedio at home left a bad taste in my mouth. Bellmare is vulnerable in the middle without Jean so the next couple of weeks will be a test.

6. CEREZO OSAKA-(Last month 12) Coach Tsunami has the team playing decent football. Still not great but they are slowly creeping into contention. Ze Carlos will be the key.

7. KYOTO SANGA FC-(Last month 8) It seems like the team still has a depression hangover from the disaster of 2006. The referees haven't helped much. Really, Kyoto has disappointed.

8. THESPA KUSATSU-(Last month 6) The team is still scraping along and fighting for mid table respectability. There's really not much talent on this team but they play hard and fight. Koji Maatsura has scored some timely goals, too...........the horror!

9. TOKUSHIMA VORTIS-(Last month 10) They stink against teams they should compete against but managed to tie Vegalta Sendai and humble Verdy on the road. Possible giant killers and playing with much more pride than last year.

10. SAGAN TOSU-(Last month 9) Who knows what team is going to show up? They have the potential to play with any team in J2. They also have the potential to get blown out. Sad group.

11. TOKYO VERDY 1969-(Last month 1) Great talent, Awful team.......nuff said

12. EHIME FC- (Last month 11) Is it me or does this team seem to lack the urgency and fight of last year's squad. Guess the thrill of promotion is gone. They remind me alot of the Vortis squad last year.

13. MITO HOLLYHOCK-(Last month 13) OK........Home record 0-0-6 2 GF 14 GA -12 GD.......Road 0-3-2 1 GF 7 GA -6 GD. Could this team be as bad as the 2003 Sagan Tosu squad that only won 3 games? They might have the consolation prize of ending Rui Ramos coaching career.


Big Loser TOKYO VERDY 1969