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.