As a commentator, former Mito head Maeda was at the Shonan match last Saturday. It was just made known that he visited the locker room beforehand to provide encouragement, and players who played for him last year said the motivation to perform well was high that day. He will be in the broadcast booth tomorrow as well at Kasamatsu, and I will try to catch up with him before or after the game.
Now well into the second half of their respective seasons, Mito looks to have two new potential rivalries in neighboring prefectures likely for 2009. Previously, I mentioned the professionally bound Tochigi SC in Utsunomiya city, but the fortunes of J1 side JEF United Chiba Ichihara have them buried at the bottom of the standings. Tochigi would have to lose an improbable number of games in the JFL compared to the nearest challengers to drop out of the automatic promotion slots, while Chiba would have to play spectacularly better than the nearest bottom clubs to make up the gap to be fourth worst and avoid the chance at relegation. JEF is one of the six remaining professional founding teams to spend its entire existence in J1 and the drop would prove to be an interesting set of matchups against Mito.
Assuming Mito does not start winning each game and ends up promoted to J1 of course.