[Match Report] FC Tokyo vs. Kashiwa Reysol

FC Tokyo 2 – 1 Kashiwa Reysol

Pre-Match

Can Kashiwa translate their good form in the ACL to J.League matches? Or will FC Tokyo get back to winning ways after three losses on the trot?  This match has the potential to be a high scoring thriller for neutrals because both teams have firepower; however, if both teams look to solidify their defenses, we could be looking at a midfield-stalemate for a full 90 minutes.

On paper, FC Tokyo looks to be the stronger squad, with 4-5 full-national team candidates, but Kashiwa is a very scrappy team that will not go down without a fight.  Kashiwa FW Yuki Otsu should be looking to fulfill his potential after a mediocre spell in Holland, if he comes off the bench.  The same can be said for FC Tokyo attacker Keigo Higashi.  He was labeled as a player who would have an influence on the international stage for the Japanese national team; however, he has not been able to hold down a starting spot in FC Tokyo’s squad over the past few season because he as had little to no influence on matches.  So, the performance of both Otsu and Higashi are highlights of this match.  FC Tokyo MF Hideto Takahashi’s play is  also something to spotlight.  Takahashi has not played consistently this year because of his poor form.  When he plays well, he controls the midfield on both sides of the ball, but when he is off, he gives the ball away and puts his team on the back foot.

FC Tokyo:

Starting Formation: 4-3-1-2 (4-3-3, CAM Higashi pushing forward as a CF)

Player I focused on: CAM Keigo Higashi – In past seasons, Higashi has seen playing time all over the midfield.  In my opinion, this is the main reason he has been fairly inconsistent and non-influential.  However, he is being played, in what I feel is, his natural positionーCAM.  He has good technique and vision, so his playmaking skills are key for FC Tokyo.  He has also been getting more play time this season, so he should be able to get into the rhythm of the match quickly.

Kashiwa Reysol:

Starting Formation: 4-3-3
Player I focused on: CB Daisuke Suzuki – A solid center back with good feet.  His aerial ability and passing ability are attributes that have contributed to Kashiwa’s success in the ACL. However, Kashiwa’s performances in the J.League have been inconsistent; they are currently in 15th place which is just above the relegation zone.  Suzuki will have to rally his troops from the back and keep the dangerous Yoshinori Muto on his radar.

1st Half:

First 10 minutes: Kashiwa Reysol have seen most of the possession, which is their style of soccer.  This means that Kashiwa are controlling the pace of the match.  FC Tokyo are possibly looking to play a quick counterattacking strategy tonight by the way their attackers are making vertical runs when they get the ball in midfield.

12th minute: FC Tokyo – MF Hideto Takahashi makes a nice pass through to ST Yohei Hayashi.  Hayashi then lays the ball off to Higashi on the right flank.  Higashi then uses a body feint to get by a Reysol defender and he sends a ball toward the near post.  Hayashi gets the ball in the box and takes a shot, but sends his shot wide of the near post.

20th minute Substitution: FC Tokyo – MF Hideyuki Nozawa on for MF Takuji Yonemoto
MF Yonemoto collides with Kashiwa FW Kudo and looks to have injured his knee.  Will this injury substitution hurt FC Tokyo in the 2nd half?

32nd minute: GOAL – FC Tokyo – FW Muto made a perfectly time run behind Kashiwa’s defensive line and a through ball was sent into his run.  Muto took the ball down to the goal line and Kashiwa’s GK Sugeno rushed out to cut the angle with support from a defender.  Muto cut the ball back, but his touch got away from him.  It looked as if he had lost possession, but Muto made a fair, hard slide tackle and the ball goes back to Hayashi who attempts a shot, but is blocked.  The ball finds its way to MF Mita and he hits a shot to the near post and it goes if off of GK Sugeno.

FC Tokyo 1 – 0 Kashiwa Reysol

34th minute: FC Tokyo – A cross is floated in from the left flank and goes over Hayashi and a Kashiwa defender.  The ball falls to Higashi at the far post who hits a volley, but his shot goes just wide of the far post.

1st Half Observations:

1. FC Tokyo is playing an offside trap.  This is risky because Kashiwa’s attackers, Cristiano, Leandro, and Kudo, are very quick and are known to time their runs behind the last line of defense often.

2. FC Tokyo were able to control possession for the last half of the first half. The reason for this is the large gap between Kashiwa’s defense and midfield.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For FC Tokyo:

1. FC Tokyo: Play through the middle of the pitch.  When the ball is on either flank, FC Tokyo does not look dangerous, perhaps except the left flank where LB Ota can send in whipped crosses. Also, because Reysol is controlling possession, quick short counters through the middle of the pitch will lead to more scoring chances.

2.Losing box-to-box midfielder Yonemoto in the first 20 minutes of the match is unfortunate.  However, Nozawa is a young, capable midfielder.  His chemistry in midfield with Takahashi and Mita needs to be developed quickly in the match if FC Tokyo are to keep playing their quick attacking soccer.

3. FC Tokyo’s defensive block is proving to be difficult to penetrate.  Keeping this organized block in the 2nd half will see FC Tokyo kill the game off.

For Kashiwa Reysol:

1. Do not give FC Tokyo free kicks in dangerous areas.  FC Tokyo has Kosuke Ota’s deadly left foot.  He can send pinpoint balls into the box and also hit the back of the net from within 30 meters of goal.

2. Utilize the flanks to draw FC Tokyo defenders out of position.  As mentioned above in #3, Kashiwa is having trouble breaking down FC Tokyo’s organized defense.  To counter this tactic, Kashiwa should use their quickness on the flanks in Cristiano and Kudo.  These two players have speed and technique, so if they beat their defender, this will draw a defender out of position; thus, giving another Kashiwa attacker space to run into.

3. Use a change in pace.  Kashiwa’s possession of the ball is very predictable, and this is making it easy to defend their attacks.  Using a change of pace through midfield might catch FC Tokyo off balance and lead to a scoring chance.

2nd Half:

47th minute: FC Tokyo MF Takahashi attempts to make a pass from midfield to the right flank, but his pass lacks accuracy and power and is intercepted by a Kashiwa defender.  Kashiwa then launches a quick counterattack and the ball is connected to Leandro within 10 seconds.  However, an FC Tokyo defender stops Leandro.  Note: I mentioned that Takahashi makes bad passes in the Pre-Match report.

53rd minute: Kashiwa Reysol – Nice combination play on the edge of FC Tokyo’s penalty area from Cristiano and Leandro.  Leandro then finds an overlapping DF Wako on the left side of the penalty area.  Wako sends a shot/cross in front of the goal, but it goes wide of the far post as no Kashiwa player was making a run on the opposite side of Wako.

59th minute: Kashiwa Reysol – More nice combination play in the final third of the pitch created a clear-cut scoring chance for Kashiwa.  Cristiano was found wide open on the left side of the penalty area, but GK Gonada did well to come off his line and make the save.

60th minute: After a Reysol corner kick, a penalty kick was called on FC Tokyo CB Morishige.  Morishige grabbed Kashiwa CB Daisuke Suzuki and tripped him and the referee called for a penalty kick and gave Morishige a yellow card for his actions.  With this yellow card, captain Morishige will miss FC Tokyo’s next match against Matsumoto Yamaga.

62nd minute: GOAL – Kashiwa Reysol – Leandro cooly finishes to tie the match.

FC Tokyo 1 – 1 Kashiwa Reysol

63rd minute substitution: Kashiwa Reysol – Testuro Ota on for Masato Kudo

65th minute: FC Tokyo’s Muto is fouled in the penalty area and the referee calls the 2nd penalty of the match.

MAGNITUDE 8.5 EARTHQUAKE OFF OF THE OGASAWARA ISLANDS.

(Live coverage of the match is interrupted by coverage of earthquake)

68th minute: GOAL – FC Tokyo – Muto converts the PK and FC Tokyo retakes the lead.

FC Tokyo 2 – 1 Kashiwa Reysol

2nd Half Observations:

1. In the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half, Kashiwa Reysol were using one-touch play to connect passes on FC Tokyo’s half of the field.  This helped Kashiwa retain possession higher up the pitch and also create some chances.

Overall Observations:

Player of the Match: FC Tokyo ST Yohei Hayashi – Because the game got cut off because of the large earthquake that occurred, I believe Yohei Hayashi’s active play up top for FC Tokyo was a key factor in their victory.

Next fixtures (June 7):

FC Tokyo: (June 7)

vs. Matsumoto Yamaga away. Captain Morishige will not be available through accumulation of yellow cards.  Yamaga is coming off of a 3-1 loss against Kashima Antlers.  Yamaga is playing some good soccer this season even though they were just promoted to the J.League.  This will not be an easy match for FC Tokyo, especially because they will be visiting Matsumoto.

Kashiwa Reysol:

vs. Urawa Reds away (June 3).  Urawa Reds came from behind to thump Sagan Tosu 6-1.  Urawa remains undefeated and look unstoppable.

vs. Matsumoto Yamaga away (June 7)

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