Nagoya 1-0 S-Pulse
Kennedy 32 (pen)
DF Jong a Pin
MF Kawai (4)
FW Brosque (60)
Ono (63) on for Edamura (HT)
Shirasaki on for Takagi (73)
A belting stadium, way too many beers, awesome travelling support, friends, football and fun. A defeat, but a lot to take from the performance. All in all, it was just great to have the football back. It's a long, cold winter in Japan with no football to look forward to on the weekends. Welcome back J. League. :)
We had four first time starters (Hayashi, Yoshida, Lee, Kawai) on Saturday, and a fifth came off the bench in the shape of Shirasaki. A very new look S-Pulse, but a very encouraging performance. Lee in particular had only officially been announced last week, but for all the new faces we didn't look like a team lacking cohesion. But for a momentary lack of good judgement from an otherwise solid Yoshida, the game would have ended 0-0.
Nagoya's big two centre backs caused us all kinds of problems and were probably the difference in the end. We created several chances down the wings through twinkle toes Takagi especially, but were frustrated by Tulio and Masukawa time and again. I thought we looked better in the second half and controlled most of the game, no coincidence Ono had come on at half time.
As for the other new signings, Yoshida was exciting, and Hayashi in goal seems a class acquisition. Experienced beyond his years, he had a great début. The back line was organised and did a good job of containing Nagoya for the most part. We have a lot we can take from this, despite the defeat. This season is going to be an interesting one, but compared to last year's schooling at the hands of the eventual champions, I feel like it's going to be a much brighter ten months ahead!