This was a hard game to watch as the stadium was cold and the result was colder. Mito looks back to the beginning of the season to finish off matches unfortunately.
Kofu was incredibly aggressive and honestly deserved to win. They came so close to giving up a draw, as close as possible actually, by being a bit too aggressive for their own good in injury time. Kofu scored, and then the final moments of the first half saw Kofu get its first red card of the game in the penalty area. Mito forward Akahoshi took the PK and converted to tie it up. The second half starts up, Kofu scores, and wouldn't you know it but another injury time foul in the penalty area, Kofu takes its second red card, and Akahoshi sets up for the tie game shot in the very last minute. The ball flies above the cross bar, the whistle sounds, and Mito drops the ball after having it handed lovingly on a silver platter.
On the plus side, the Holly-kun renewal fund went AMAZINGLY well, with what I'd estimate as 200,000-300,000 yen collected to repair the beloved mascot. After their win, one Kofu fan even dropped in a 10,000 yen bill. The cold day showed a lot of warmth from the hearts of soccer compatriots hailing from the two smallest capital cities in the Tokyo metro area.
This result leaves Mito in 10th, and needing to win the last two to have even a chance at 9th when the season ends. Next week's opponent, Yokohama FC, is just a point behind in the standings. A win by Mito will assure a middle table finish. In the north Yamagata is flying so high that it seems almost certain that they will be in J1 for the first time in 2009. I'll see what could be their last J2 match ever on the 6th when I make the drive to Tohoku. Below J2, Kataller Toyama has secured a spot, and Okayama and Tottori fight for the last position in the JFL standings to turn pro. There will definitely be 3 new teams in J2 to even up the number of teams in all divisions, and on Sunday we will know which team takes the third spot. I could have seen Tottori face RKU in Ibaraki and see their potential rise, but I decided that I will go to Utsunomiya and see Tochigi SC's last semi-pro match. It's going to be an eventful two weekends, watching 3 matches in 3 prefectural capitals in 2 leagues and wrapping it up with the Mito fan fest on the 7th. After that, I'll have a month to recover before Mito begins training the 2009 squad.
With that time, I wanted to approach my US hometown's nearest pro team, also in the 2nd division, about creating some kind of international partnership with Mito HollyHock. But it was just announced that the Atlanta Silverbacks team was disbanded. Looks like I'll be without any soccer activities for over a month.