Song of the day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJEUSnLZDaM
Rumor in the dirtsheets is that Verdy will go 4-3-3 this year. I'm not sure yet how I feel about that.
Meet the Mids
5. Takahiro Kawamura- It seems like every year, Verdy has to fill it's Jubilo fetish with a member from the Championship teams of the early 2000's and Kawamura fits the bill. The 29 year old central mid comes in after traveling around with Cerezo, Kawasaki, and last year's version of Jubilo in order to fill in the spot left by the "talented" Takashi Fukunishi. Seems a little more like Harutaka Ono.
6. Tomo Sugawara- The gritty little product of the old Yomiuri youth system comes back for his 4th year manning the center of the field for Verdy. A tenacious defender, Sugawara makes up for lack of size and skill with speed and hustle. Unfortunately, Sugawara has been known to pick up small dings throughout the year that keep him out for one or two games at a time. Sugawara is one of a handful of Yomiuri Verdy guys to spend time in Brazil.
7. Hiroki Kawano- The future. Kawano came in as a speedy little wing from the Verdy youth system and scored 2 goals in limited minutes. Kawano was part of the U-20 squads that ventured to the Middle East in 2008-2009 to try and qualify for the U-20 World Cup. His most memorable quote was during one of his U-20 trips when he said something to the effect of, "I don't want to play Mito next year!" Verdy will play Mito 3 times in 2009.
8. Kosei Shibasaki- Versatile midfielder can play either in the center or on the wing. Last year was his first as a regular starter and full-time contributor after coming from Kokushikaan University. Not a great scorer, more of a disruptor in the midfield.
15. Kunihiko Takizawa- Takizawa is another member of Takagi's old Yokohama FC folly to join Verdy. A major contributor over the past 3 years to the Fulie, Takizawa made his mark as a member of Grampus is the early 2000's. Takizawa specializes as a left wing so expect him to challenge and provide depth on the left side of the field.
18. Genki Nagasato- After 3 years of prime time play for Shonan Bellmare, Nagasato inexplicably fell out of favor with the brass at the Kanagawa club and found himself out of a job starting the 2009 campaign. Nagasato is young and versatile. He can play all 6 offensive positions in the lineup. His problem is consistently finding the back of the net.
23. Masato Fujita- Highly touted project out of Meiji University. The MF/DF is said to play in the mold of Yukio Tsuchiya so he's come to the right place.
28. Kento Tsurumaki- Returns after a dissapointing stint at Mito Hollyhock. Tsurumaki looks to add depth on the wing and fill out the practice squad.
30. Yu Tomidokoro- Tomidokoro really started getting noticed after notching late goals in 2 straight Sahara Cup knockout games to help his team advance to a semifinal berth. Tomidokoro will probably learn from the sides early on, but Verdy brass are hoping that he can partner up with Kawano to lay the foundation for the next great Verdy squad.
31. Junpei Shinmura- Another Verdy youth product to not see much time on the field. Shinmura goes into camp as the number 1 backup in central midfield so we might get to see if he actually has some game or not.
Meet the Forwards
9. Masashi Oguro- The former J League scoring king and National Team player came back to Japan from a disappointing stint at Torino in Italy. Flush with cash and unrealistic expectations, Oguro was slated to fill in at Hulk's spot of playmaker. Unfortunately for him and the team, Oguro works best when he is A. in shape and B. playing with a creative partner up top. He had neither. Oguro was only able to manage two goals in 2008. Oguro will try to resuscitate his career in J2 as the main target man and possibly get noticed by a J1 squad desperate for scoring help.
10. Leandro-Last year's big offseason flop comes back for another year of competition with Verdy prodigy Kawano for the wing position. Managed to aid Hulk in disrupting team chemistry by showing up late from spring vacation without team permission. Had a couple bright moments and a few nice goals but mostly put in lethargic performances on the wing. Only one of two foreign players on the roster this year.
11. Leonard- Mystery man for Verdy who came in from the prestigious Aomori Yamada program and was immediately shipped off to Sagan Tosu for 2 years. Displayed up and performances and fell in and out of the starting 11 for the southern club. Can play as a target forward or on the wing.
13. Taira Inoue- Speedy striker has yet to find the back of the net in 2 seasons as a Verdy player. Kind of fell out favor with the constant upheval in the front. Very slight build and can get knocked off the ball in a crowd.
16. Kazunori Iio- Iio is one of those players who you have to marvel at. Not possessing either great speed or size. Iio always seems to be a guy who coaches really like to have on their squad. Iio comes into camp as the backup for the top and wing positions.
19. Yuzo Funakoshi- The big donkey comes back for one more stink with pockets a bit lighter after taking a pay cut. Funakoshi had the dubious distinction of only appearing in losing games for Verdy in 2008. Possibly his finest moment was scoring the goal that helped Verdy gain promotion in 2007. Funakoshi is the tallest player in the J league at 194 centimeters.
25. Kazuki Hiramoto- Hiramoto currently boasts the longest stint as a Verdy player, starting his 11th campaign. Last year was a disaster for the mercurial forward, coming into camp grossly overweight and putting in less than stellar performances. Hiramoto has on occasion put in great displays of ball skills and determination for goals in the past, so it is a mystery why he can't do that on a more regular basis. Another bad season could doom his career as a Verdy player.
27. Ryohei Hayashi- Hayashi comes out of the Verdy youth and Meiji University sytem to challenge for a spot as the main target man. Hayashi was recognized as a University best 11 member in 2007.