It is that time of year where everyone starts to reflect on what has gone on in the past year, and I’m no different. This is my J2 team of the year, but with one condition – only 1 player per club.
GK: Hiroyuki Takeda – Giravanz Kitakyushu
This was the most difficult choice. Fagiano’s Nakabayashi started the season well, but made a few mistakes as the season went on. That is why I’ve chosen Takeda, who played nearly every game for the Kokura club this year. It is sometimes difficult to judge a goalkeeper who plays for a team in the lower reaches of the league, but he is in there as much for his leadership skills. This was a new team, and one that needed a lot of leading and Takeda was one of the main people to provide it. He did have some great performances too, he was instrumental in helping the team finish in a relatively lofty 16th place.
DF: Mutsumi Tamabayashi – Matsumoto Yamaga
A virtual ever-present for everyone’s “other” favourite team, Tamabayashi has been a stalwart in the Shinshu side’s unsuccessful push for a play off spot. He offers an attacking threat down the flank and is rarely found wanting defensively.
DF: Taisuke Nakamura – Montedio Yamagata
A true attacking threat from the left back position, Nakamura has been a vital part of of a team that has scored over 70 goals this year. I’ve chosen him because of his attacking prowess, less because of his defending. Yamagata have a stable of good forwards, but they need a supplier and Nakamura provides that outlet on the left. I would venture to say that he is one of the best attacking full backs currently playing in Japan, period.
DF: Satoshi Yamaguchi – JEF United
Mr. reliable at the heart of JEF United, Yamaguchi was the glue that held JEF together for long parts of the season. A very consistent player in a team that seems to be full of mercurial, inconsistent types, Yamaguchi has the respect of his team-mates & peers.
DF: Chang So Jin – Consadole Sapporo
The big Korean defender has established himself as a fixture in the heart of the Consa defence having made a big impact after his move from Kamatamare Sanuki last winter. I think Chang has a big future ahead of him.
MF: Cristiano – Tochigi SC
The name probably tells you all you need to know. The Brazilian literally shoots from anywhere, and shoots with awesome power. He, along with his compatriots Paulinho & Sabia were the catalyst for Tochigi’s unlikely, and ultimately unsuccessful, play-off push. Cristiano has a tendency to go down to easily and he is prone to outbursts, but no-one can doubt his star quality. He most likely won’t be at Tochigi next year, and J2 will be a little bit poorer for it.
MF: Sai Kanakubo – V-Varen Nagasaki
A year ago it was Sai who? But the little playmaker has been part of everything good that has come from Nagasaki this year. He can pass, he can cross, he can shoot, he can tackle….Kanakubo can do it all. He has been nothing short of a revelation for Takagi’s side since his off season move from Mito.
MF: Shigeru Yokotani – Kyoto Sanga
IF Gamba have four better midfielders than this guy, they must have some squad. Yokotani, on loan from the Suita club, has been the driving force behind Sanga’s third place finish, seemingly dragging Kyoto through games on his own. When Sanga lost Yuya Kubo to Switzerland, a lot of people wondered where the inspiration would come from. Luckily, Yokotani stepped up to the tune 11 goals & a further 10 assists to ensure that the team stayed in the play-off picture.
AMF: Popo – Vissel Kobe
The “Popo Cannon” has been seen many times this year. He has scored spectacular goal after spectacular goal and has spearheaded Vissel’s promotion campaign. After being labeled past it by a lot of observers, he proved them wrong in spades. It was a difficult choice between Popo and Ogawa, but Popo just edges it on his blockbuster qualities.
FW: Takashi Usami – Gamba
Hard to ignore Usami, as he pillaged clubs up and down the land for goals aplenty. Arriving from an ill-fated spell in Germany, there was pressure on him to re-prove himself and re-prove himself he certainly did with 20 goals for the Banpaku club. The caveat for this performance is that he did it against the likes of Gifu, Tottori, Ehime etc. He will be pivotal to Gamba’s J1 campaign next year.
FW: Tomohiro Tsuda – Tokushima Vortis
The “star” of a team with no stars. Tsuda has been fantastic for Vortis this year, and his goals have fired Tokushima to play-off glory. The spiritual leader of the Shikoku side was also the top scorer, and his goal in the play-off final sealed Vortis’ promotion. Will he able to hack it in J1? Who knows? But the Gifu native has earned the chance to try.
There you go, the J2 team of the year. Never an exact science is it?