Reds produce thrilling 3-3 draw at Reysol

Urawa Reds increased their chances of being declared MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners when they fought back for a thrilling 3-3 draw at Kashiwa Reysol on Wednesday.

The league leaders travelled to Kashiwa Stadium in an attempt to seal up first stage bragging rights soon, and Tsukasa Umesaki immediately showcased the Reds’ intentions with his first-minute opener minute.

From there though, Reysol took control, Masato Kudo exploiting a defensive error to equalise just five minutes later, before Leandro opportunistically put them into the lead before half time.

Determined not to let the tie slip away, defender Tomoaki Makino nodded in for Mihailo Petrovic’s men from a corner, but was later powerless to prevent Leando from making it 3-2 from a cross.

Nevertheless, the Reds’ determination saw them bag a stoppage-time equaliser through Yuki Muto, keeping his club’s 14-game unbeaten start to the league season intact.

Their draw, combined with Gamba Osaka’s 2-0 win over Kashima Antlers, means last year’s runners’ up can wrap up the first stage title with a win over Shimizu S-Pulse this Sunday, if Gamba lose to Vissel Kobe.

Gamba had looked comfortable against their visitors and Yasuyuki Konno gave them the lead before half time, before captain Yasuhito Endo doubled it in the 52nd minute.

The result means the Japanese champions, who have a game in hand, still stand an outside chance of making the first-stage winners tag their own.


Grampus defender Tanaka out four weeks

Former Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka will require four weeks to recover from a right hamstring injury, his club Nagoya Grampus announced on Monday.

The 34-year-old veteran injured himself just 14 minutes into matchday 14 of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League clash with Montedio Yamagata, which finished in a goal-less draw.

The 2006 J.League Player of the Year is one of the Japan’s most recognisable players, having been named to the league Best XI at the end of the season at total of nine times.

Tanaka also boasts a distinguished international record, having represented Japan in the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2010 World Cup.


Frontale launch free Wi-Fi service

Kawasaki Frontale have announced the launch of “FRONTALE FREE WI-FI”, a free Wi-Fi service for fans attending games at Todoroki Stadium.

The service will launch this Sunday, when Frontale host Shonan Bellmare on matchday 15 of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.

During the match, the club will deliver quizzes and other content via the “FRONTALE FREE Wi-FI” portal.

In addition to Wi-Fi access throughout the stadium, fans visiting the event area of the main stand will be able to see free demonstrations of “J.League On Demand”, presented by league broadcaster SkyPerfecTV.


Tokyo midfielder Yonemoto suffers ligament injury

FC Tokyo on Monday confirmed midfielder Takuji Yonemoto has suffered an injury to his left medial cruciate ligament.

The 24-year-old suffered the injury 20 minutes into last Saturday’s MEIJI YASUDA J1 League matchday 14, when the capital side beat Kashiwa Reysol 2-1.

Yonemoto, who was named both New Hero and MVP of the 2009 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup, has played 14 games in midfield for Tokyo this season.


Halilhodzic announces June Japan squad

The Japan Football Association on Monday revealed a squad of 25 members for both of Japan’s June fixtures.

The Samurai Blues will first face Iraq in a Kirin Challenge Cup match at Nissan Stadium next Thursday.

It will effectively serve as preparation before they welcome Singapore to Saitama Stadium on 16th June in their first joint 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic’s squad includes current MEIJI YASUDA J1 League top scorer Takashi Usami as well as FC Tokyo’s Mainz-bound Yoshinori Muto.

A total of 13 players representing Japanese sides have been listed, with Gamba Osaka defender Daiki Niwa and Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Shogo Taniguchi receiving their first senior call-ups.

Meanwhile, Cerezo Osaka midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi was the only selection from a J2 League club.

Below is the list of Japan’s full squad:

Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege/Belgium)
Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)

Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart/Germany)
Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96/Germany)
Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo)
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter/Italy)
Maya Yoshida (Southampton/England)
Daiki Niwa (Gamba Osaka)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)
Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)

Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany)
Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale)
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/Germany)
Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover 96/Germany)

Keisuke Honda (AC Milan/Italy)
Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin/Germany)
Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka)
Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)
Shinji Okazaki (Mainz/Germany)
Yuya Osako (Koln/Germany)
Kengo Kawamata (Nagoya Grampus)


Sagan announce special kit for July home games

Sagan Tosu on Sunday announced details of a limited-edition home kit the team will wear during matches in July.

The Kyushu outfit will take to the pitch against Shonan Bellmare and Kashima Antlers on 25th July and 29th July respectively wearing a yellow jersey.

The new colours arise from a collaboration with local baseball team Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and their Hawk Festival 2015 event.

Fans attending either of the two J1 League Second Stage matches will each receive a free baseball-style Sagan Tosu kit.


Oita Trinita dismiss manager Kazuaki Tasaka

MEIJI YASUDA J2 League side Oita Trinita sacked manager Kazuaki Tasaka on Monday due to the club’s poor results this season.

The Kyushu outfit were defeated 2-1 by Giravanz Kitakyushu on matchday 16 on Sunday, leaving them bottom of the second tier having just picked up 11 points.

Head development coach Nobuaki Yanagida will serve as interim manager until a successor is appointed.

Trinita, who were last seen in the top flight in 2013 after becoming the first club to win the J1 Promotion Playoff in 2012, will next host Kyoto Sanga this Saturday.


FC Tokyo’s Muto to join Mainz

FC Tokyo announced the official transfer of striker Yoshinori Muto to Bundesliga club Mainz on Saturday.

The confirmation came after Tokyo’s 2-1 win over Kashiwa Reysol on matchday 14, with Muto himself scoring the game-winning penalty kick in the 69th minute.

The 22-year-old Japan international will remain with his Japanese club through the end of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage on 27th June, when they face Shimizu S-Pulse.

Muto is scheduled to address Tokyo fans afterwards, with his nine goals this season having played a key role in the rise of Massimo Ficcadenti’s men as title challengers.

Despite his relatively short career, the rising star has already made an impact in the capital side’s colours, netting a total of 25 times in 55 matches.


Grampus midfielder Danilson out two months

Nagoya Grampus on Sunday announced Danilson will require eight weeks to recover from an injury to his left hamstring.

The midfielder picked up the knock on 23rd May during his side’s 1-0 win over FC Tokyo in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League’s matchday 13.

Danilson has made 10 appearances and been key in Grampus’ rise to 10th in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League this season.

The 28-year-old Colombian first joined the Aichi-based club from Consadole Sapporo in 2010.


Goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt joins Roasso Kumamoto on loan

Vegalta Sendai loaned backup goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt to MEIJI YASUDA J2 League side Roasso Kumamoto, the club confirmed on Saturday.

The loan, scheduled to last through to the end of January 2016, is intended to allow Schmidt a chance to further develop as a player.

“I hope to gain experience playing for Roasso and return to Sendai as a better player,” Schmidt said in a statement issued by Vegalta.

The 23-year-old half-American had already spent one month on loan to Roasso in 2014, making his professional debut in April of that year and earning four J2 League starts in total.

His only appearance to date for Vegalta came in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup in 2014.


Rampant Reds on course to seal first-stage winners tag

There is little left standing in the way of Urawa Reds being crowned MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners now, after they romped to a 6-1 victory at Sagan Tosu on Saturday.

Following the draws of Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Gamba Osaka, the league leaders took full advantage in their bid to secure mid-season honours when they blitzed their hosts in the second half.

Yutaka Yoshida’s sending off in the 22nd minute looked ominous for Sagan, but it was actually Hitoshi Morishita’s men who took the lead when Kota Mizunuma rifled in a spectacular free-kick.

The Reds came out in the second period breathing fire however, as Yuki Muto and Yosuke Kashiwagi put them ahead for the first time on the night.

It was when Shinzo Koroki bent in a long-range after the hour mark that the match carried the whiff of a rout, and a Tsukasa Umesaki in-between Zlatan Ljubijankic’s 10-minute double ensured the team’s ascension in stunning manner.

Rivals Sanfrecce could not find the breakthrough and drew 0-0 at Shonan Bellmare, while Gamba finished their match with 10 men after Lins’ red card and had to count on Patric’s 95th minute equaliser to scrape a 1-1 result against high-flying Yokohoma F.Marinos.

FC Tokyo capitalised on the champions dropping points to move into third following a 2-1 win over Kashiwa Reysol, Hirotaka Mita opening the scoring before Yoshinori Muto’s ninth goal of the season cancelled out Leandro’s temporary equaliser.

The result drops Reysol into the relegation battle and level on 13 points with Shimizu S-Pulse, who picked up only their third win of the campaign with an excellent 5-2 victory against Kawasaki Frontale nevertheless.

Peter Utaka and Hideki Ishige each netted braces in a rampant performance for the hosts, who moved off the bottom of the table as a result.

Previous relegation favourites Ventforet Kofu have been on a roll, and extended their winning run to three games in a row by securing a potentially crucial 2-0 win at Albirex Niigata to boost their survival chances.

Matsumoto Yamaga actually took the lead at Kashima Antlers but their joy was short-lived when Shuhei Akasaki’s brace and a late Caio goal handed the home side a 3-1 win, though a place for Antlers in next season AFC Champions League still looks a long way off.

Vegalta Sendai’s 1-0 result at Vissel Kobe ensured the relegation plot thickens further, but there was little drama in the goalless draw between Nagoya Grampus and Montedio Yamagata.


J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai welcomes former coach Gert Engels

J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai received prominent former J.League coach Gert Engels in a courtesy visit last Friday.

The 58-year-old coach of Mozambique managed Yokohama Flugels, JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Chiba), Kyoto Purple Sanga (now Kyoto Sanga) and Urawa Reds.

The German notably won the Emperor’s Cup with Flugels in 1998, and Sanga in 2002.

The pair discussed the Tohoku GenKIDS! Project, a non-profit organisation promoted by Engels which holds football courses and other events for children in the Tohoku region of Japan.


Vissel Kobe announce “Second Stage +1” ticket page

Vissel Kobe have announced the sale of a new ticket package that includes all the club’s remaining MEIJI YASUDA J1 League home games.

The “Second Stage +1” season ticket plan allows entry to their first stage finale on 27th June against Yokohama F. Marinos, and all nine games at NOEVIR Stadium Kobe in the second stage.

The special price plan is available through the club’s online shop, by mail and fax order, or through direct purchase from the club’s offices or at the stadium.

Sales for the season ticket began on Saturday before Vissel’s matchday 14 clash against Vegalta Sendai.


Antlers announce ‘Summer Season Ticket’ sales

Kashima Antlers on Tuesday revealed details regarding the sale of four-match “Summer Season Tickets” for their home games in July and August.

Japan’s most successful club will open their MEIJI YASUDA J1 League Second Stage campaign against Shimizu S-Pulse on 15th July at Kashima Soccer Stadium.

Following that, Antlers will welcome FC Tokyo on 25th July, Vegalta Sendai on 16th August, and finally Montedio Yamagata on 22nd August.

Fan Club members will be able to purchase their tickets from 3rd June at 10:00 local time, while the general public will get their chance on 6th June onwards.

Tickets can be purchased via internet ticking sites, official Antlers shops, and Ticket Pia storefronts.


Grampus schedule July training camp

Nagoya Grampus have announced a five-day training camp in Gifu Prefecture’s Hida City beginning on 1st July.

The club confirmed on Wednesday that its players will train at Fureai Plaza in the district of Furukawa-cho Kurouchi.

The 2010 Japanese champions are expected to announce more details as the camp approaches.

Akira Nishino’s men are currently in ninth of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League, and will seek another three points when they entertain Montedio Yamagata on Saturday.


Okazaki special guest for S-Pulse match

Mainz star Shinji Okazaki will attend old club Shimizu S-Pulse’s clash against Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday, the former has confirmed.

The Japan international striker will join S-Pulse icon Toshihide Saito in a special talk event at IAI Stadium Nihondaira and greet supporters before the match.

Okazaki played for S-Pulse between 2005 and 2010, and impressed enough at the 2010 World Cup for Bundesliga side Stuttgart to acquire his services that summer.

The 29-year-old transferred to Mainz in July 2013 and established himself as a regular there, finishing this season having scored 12 times in 32 outings.

He is also the third-highest goalscorer in Samurai Blue history, netting 42 goals over 91 appearances.

Former club S-Pulse are desperately in need of points this weekend, languishing joint-bottom of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.


Antlers announce testimonial for retired players

Kashima Antlers on Tuesday announced a testimonial match for former players Koji Nakata, Toru Araiba and Atsushi Yanagisawa will be organized for 5th July.

All three retired at the end of the 2014 J1 League season, and will now participate in the game for KAY FRIENDS, a team composed of the three players and their close friends.

Their team will then take on ANTLERS LEGENDS, a team of former Antlers stars, at Kashima Soccer Stadium.

All three former players have found positions with the club post-retirement; Nakata serves as a Club Relations Officer, while Araiba and Yanagisawa are both first-team coaches.

Together, they combined to make nearly 750 J1 League appearances as Antlers players.


Gamba through and rarely troubled against Seoul

Gamba Osaka left nothing to chance as they overcame FC Seoul 3-2 in the second leg of the AFC Champions League round of 16 clash on Wednesday.

The Japanese champions have progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition with a 6-3 aggregate win, after defeating the Koreans 3-1 in their own backyard last week.

The writing was already on the wall, and Gamba left no room for an upset last evening when they took the lead through Patric’s header in the 16th minute.

Seoul paid dearly when they missed a penalty awarded to them in the first half, as Shu Kurata poked home a rebound right before the break.

But the interval period allowed Seoul to organise and they soon grabbed their first of two consolation goals through Yun Ju-tae.

Nevertheless, Gamba made it impossible to turn the tide when they grabbed their third of the night through Lins, Yun’s second goal in stoppages failing to take away much satisfaction from their ensuing return amongst Asia’s top eight.


Trinita’s Nagai out two months

Oita Trinita on Tuesday announced that striker Ryo Nagai will require eight weeks to recover from an injury to his right knee.

The Cerezo Osaka-loanee suffered damage to his medial cruciate ligament on 17th May against MEIJI YASUDA J2 League opponents Mito Hollyhock.

Nagai, who at this time will not require surgery, has scored two goals in nine appearances this season.


Albirex unveil official LINE stamps

Albirex Niigata announced the sale of their first official set of LINE stamps on Monday.

The set features 40 stamps of club mascot Albi-kun as well as his family.

The stamps are priced at 50 LINE coins via the smartphone application’s Stamp Shop, or 120 yen on the LINE web store.