29 March 2008

Mito 2 - 2 Yokohama

Mito achieved the same result twice in a row, and while not quite as heartbreaking as the last game, it was still a disappointing draw in a situation where that draw would have once been seen as positive.

Vice captain Kazuhiro Suzuki had to sit out due to the The first goal was taken by Kento Hori for his first goal as a player in J. League. It was tapped in well following a rebound. The first half was controlled by Mito and the half closed with a Mito lead.

Soon after the second half started, defender Owada would head in a corner kick for Mito's second goal and the first 2-point lead of the season. Soon afterward, he would be involved in an unlucky call as a kicked ball in the penalty area would bounce off his elbow. The penalty kick would be converted by former Mito player (and current J2 goal leader) Anderson. Ten minutes before the final whistle, Yokohama would match the score and it would end with the draw.

The draw probably was fair in retrospect, as although Yokohama's first goal came from a dubious PK, there was also a dangerous moment where Yokohama should have easily scored in the second half but wasted it with a blown shot.

Looking back at the first five games, there is a lot to be happy about, and especially when looking at the last three games. Mito faced the three teams that played in J1 last year, and won one of them while drawing the other two. So very few people thought this could have been possible a month ago, but it is still painful for the Mito fans. These three games should have been a three game winning streak with Mito taking 9 points in the standings, but lost 4 of those points in the very last of each of the past couple of games. It seems worse than the feeling of the many game losing streaks that had plagued the team in previous years.

Still, in the end, Mito is number 9 in the standings after 5 games (albeit with Fukuoka and Kumamoto able to rise above tomorrow with wins), and when looking at those first 5 opponents few would have predicted Mito to be anything except 15th place out of 15 before the campaign started. Mito just barely misses out on being 4th place based on those past two tragic draws but it's incredibly clear that Mito will crawl its way up the table from now on and that 4th place or higher isn't so out of the question. Mito now goes into a break with the next game being in two weeks, facing Kumamoto at home for the first time. Returning from the break, Mito looks likely to pick up its first win streak of the year before rolling into Sendai with momentum to be able to possibly beat them for the first time.


Furtho said...

Aaargh. Unlucky, Vendo, really unlucky. However as you comment it certainly seems as if this season Mito is not the same as the 2007 vintage. It is hard to imagine that last year's side could have drawn with - and come so close to beating - both Hiroshima and Yokohama. What's at the root of the development, would you say? Better players? Different tactics? Better coaching?

Vendo Thefastlane said...

A lot of it all. Kiyama is incredibly passionate and has been leading the team with harder practices and more effort on offense and pressing tactics while on defense. This combined with bringing in Arata, Kikuoka, and Hori have really changed things up.

I hope this isn't just Mito rising to the skill of the opponent and that weaker opponents would laregely mean wins for Mito. Fortunately each match seems to see the new players adjusting and improving. After the first 14 matches, if Mito is in the top half of the standings, I think there would not be a drop to the bottom half from then on.

-------------NipponBasse----------------- said...

Once again a great match Vendo! I must say, looking at Mito's matches so far this season, they have been one of the most impressive teams in the league! Deserved atleast a point vs Cerezo, gave Avispa a hard time in Fukuoka, and a great win vs Kofu and now 2 draws that should have been wins over two other top teams.

but as u said, how will the players perform when they meet the smaller clubs? Perhaps u're turned into "giant-killers"? Anyway you certainly look a lot better than last season, and Im looking forward to see how Mito will do over the next rounds!"