14 July 2008

Mito 2 - 1 Yamagata

Mito now has the second three-game win streak of the season after beating 2nd place (at the time) Yamagata at home. Especially impressive is that it was the third game in a week, and on Wednesday the team had to travel to Kumamoto, the furthest away game in the league. Mito has had trouble with exhaustion before now.

Exhaustion did play a part for me, though... I worked at the stadium for the full day for the first time. Usually I am there from 3-4 hours before gametime to 2-3 hours afterward, but this day I was there from 9AM and did not get home until after 10PM. Should your favorite team not play in a soccer-specific stadium, please take some time to appreciate the people who prepare the field. Dressing the pitch, placing the adboards, and preparing the press room was frantic yet time consuming and strength zapping. Especially in the heat and humidity of Saturday. Other than the hour for lunch in the cafeteria with the president (who worked as hard as everyone else), it was basically a straight shot for the whole day. This included the match; as usual recently I could only see half of it or so.

The game itself was very, very exciting, with Mito taking the lead from an Arata goal. He now has goals in four straight games, mostly under great pressure and against strong opponents like Yamagata, Shonan, and Sendai. Yamagata pushed hard to come back, and in fact both teams worked very hard for the entire game. In the second half midfielder Shingyouji came on for the second time this season and made his presence felt, as despite his short stature he leaped to beat a Yamagata defender to head in the second goal. Later, Yamagata would take a consolation point as Mito would then immediately go into the defense press, shutting down all the offensive chances.

Unfortunately with the other wins in the table, Mito did not rise in rank this round, and the real benificiaries of this win may prove to be Osaka, Tosu, and Sendai, who are fighting for the number 2 spot for J1 promotion. Mito does pull further ahead of Ehime, Tokushima, and Kumamoto though and is less than a game behind Yokohama, Gifu, and Kofu. Theoretically a win next game can put Mito in 9th place. Theoretically winning 75-80% of the remaining games would also put the team in promotion range. I'd never think it was possible after the initial losing streak this season, but the current form is really very good. The chance would be less than 5% surely but still the future seems bright.

Mito now has 8 wins, the same number as last year after 48 matches. Also, the team hasn't had a draw game since April's 3 - 3 thriller in Sendai. In fact, each draw has been an exciting one, and I'd make the case that this team brings the most excitement per minute played on average.

Lastly, regards to the 5 Yamagata fans who came up to me, who use this site as a tool to study English.


richy said...

Hey first off, otsukare for long hard days work!
Mito are looking damn good at the moment and it's definitely going to be interesting when they play Gifu in a few rounds time.
Maybe Mito will be above Gifu on the table at that time too...
Geez, no matter where you are on the table you can't afford to relax can you!

Anyway, I'm wondering if you guys are worried about Arata being whisked off to another club in the J1 or possibly a richer J2 club next season? I know most clubs, Gifu included, would love to have a player of his ability!

Anyway, look forward to the game in a few weeks!

Vendo Thefastlane said...

Yeah, there is always a chance of that. Especially Arata, but also Chu-Ho Park, Hori, and Kikuoka seem to be likely targets. I doubt Park would go to J1 (as he wanted to be in J2 due to the number of matches in which he could appear) but the others could easily fit in a team like Urawa, Hiroshima, Sapporo, or Kashima... They have that aggressive attacking into a cross and shoot play style popular in those teams.

Teams seem more likely to go after Mito's defensive players, though... Last year Yoshimoto was taken by Yokohama FC while Ogura went to the Marinos. Goal leaders Nishino and Shiozawa were untouched, even though Nishino is under contract to Oita and could be called back at the end of any rental period or sent to any higher bidder.