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Washington Stecanela Cerqueira
Today's Xerox Supercup was something I was looking forward to all week, after the break period between seasons in the J.League. There wasn't much in the 感動 department, this being a test-the-waters-type game after the break. However, the players did show good fitness and a feel for intricate passing that left me optimistic about the start of the season.

I started the game with an eye towards the sides -- Takuya Yamada, Hayuma Tanaka, and Takahito Soma. I've always liked Tanaka, and I know that a lot of fans want to see Soma tested in the NT as well. Zico was watching the game, and I'm sure many fans want him to see these guys as contenders for the NT roster for Iran (given that Alex is out, and should Miura or Kaji get hurt/sick there are no obvious backups except perhaps Yamada).

washington.jpgProbably the biggest impression most spectators left the stadium with was the new Verdy player, Washington. Capped for the Brazil NT 3 times, and standing at 189cm tall, he scored both points for Verdy, the second goal coming at injury time of the second half when Marinos was in the lead. Despite his large proportions, his movements were very balanced. He tended to stay put in front of the goal instead of moving around too much. The injury time goal must have been a big ouch for the Marinos defense; although the defenders kept a wary eye on him throughout the game, Washinton's strong presence and long limbs allowed him to break through the defense's efforts to keep him blocked. I am excited to see a striker like him appear in the J.League. Last year, Emerson was the most-feared forward....this year, Washington may give him a run for his money. Washington also seems like a very humble guy, already showing his team-oriented attitude in his comments after the game. I'd like to root for him this year. CONT'D
Nakazawa started as captain, but Matsuda was unfortunately out with an injury to his leg muscle. It is said that he'll be out of commission for three to four weeks. After this week's news of Kawaguchi's broken finger, this news about Matsuda was really disappointing to hear. I had hoped that maybe Zico would put Matsuda in with Nakazawa in a 4-back formation for the Iran game. Well, there is still hope that Tsuboi will be able to make a return to the starting team.

The game ended with a PK shootout (5-4 Verdy), something we are not unfamiliar with from last year's FCTokyo/Reds Nabisco final and Marinos/Reds final. This PK didn't have the same climactic fervor, and it would have been more entertaining to give both teams 15 more minutes to play ;) instead.

The funny thing about the Xerox Supercup is that the winner gets 30 million yen, but the losers get 20 million yen anyway.... kinda misses the point, but I guess it's meant to be a "participation fee" more than anything else.
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