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Friday, March 5, 2010
2010 J. LEAGUE PREVIEW
Yokohama F. Marinos
Team-by-team previews of the 18 teams competing in the first division.
Last season: 10th
After years of anonymity, the buzz generated by Shunsuke Nakamura's arrival makes it easy to understand why Marinos were so desperate to sign him. But now that the prodigal son has returned, how much of a difference can he be expected to make on the pitch?
Nakamura will certainly add a much-needed dollop of creativity to a team overloaded with defensive midfielders, and striker Kazuma Watanabe should feast on the improved service after hitting 13 goals in his debut season.
Koji Yamase might also benefit with someone to share the midfield burden, and new Argentine striker Pablo Bastianini — once of Yeovil Town in England's third tier — could be a joker in the pack.
But one look at Marinos' recent campaigns should be enough to nip dreams of a return to the glory days in the bud. Yokohama has played lumpen, uninspired soccer for several years now, and the lack of internationals on the club's books tells its own story.
Marinos might well have gone down last year had Watanabe not emerged as a savior, and the arrival of a 31-year-old who failed to cut it in Spain is hardly likely to transform Marinos into contenders overnight.