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Friday, March 5, 2010
2010 J. LEAGUE PREVIEW
Team-by-team previews of the 18 teams competing in the first division.
Last season: 15th
Montedio started brightly then faded horribly down the stretch after promotion last year, and would almost certainly have gone straight back down had it not been for striker Yu Hasegawa.
The 22-year-old scored 10 goals and carried the entire team on his broad shoulders for most of the campaign, so it bodes well that reinforcements have now arrived.
Hasegawa will be joined in attack by Yuzo Tashiro, who has been lured from Kashima Antlers in what looks like a great piece of business for Yamagata. Tashiro never fully established himself in the champions' first-choice lineup, but nonetheless played a big part in their three-in-a-row title triumph and will be hoping to emulate former teammate Atsushi Yanagisawa in proving there is life after Kashima.
The same goes for fellow Antlers alumni Chikashi Masuda, who will be joined by former JEF United Chiba captain Tomi Shimomura in a marked improvement on last year's midfield.
But that is not to say the new faces guarantee Yamagata survival. Last season's escape owed a heavy debt to the shortcomings of others, and the teams coming up this year look better than those they are replacing.