He might be on holiday, but that doesn’t mean that @AgentOrange2009‘s head is filled with the delights of summer. No, in fact, his head is full of the thoughts of the devastation, destruction & downright horribleness of life in the relegation zone. Brace yourself, it isn’t going to be nice.

 

For me at least. I’m in the middle of my annual trip to California. Some of things I like to do while I’m in the middle of my vacations are A. Eat excessive quantities of Mexican food and B. Attend sporting events. Going to sporting events in California makes me appreciate J League games because of the relative cleanliness of the stadiums and the absence of “Turn Down for What” blaring constantly on the PA’s. I’m enjoying the break but I do miss my relegation if truth be told.

 So here is a quick summer rundown on the Road to Relegation.

First off, this should come as no surprise but Kawasaki, Urawa, and Kashima have already assured themselves of a spot in J1 for the 2017 campaign. MASELTOV!!!!!

Sanfrecce and Gamba have already passed the 40 point plateau, so the chances of them getting relegated are fairly nil.

Every team from Yokohama (6th place), to Sagan Tosu (10th) has at least a 5 win cushion between them and relegation. Considering no one in relegation territory has more than 5 wins, I’m going to go out on a limb and say these guys are safe as well.

 Finally, FC Tokyo and Vissel are closer to 40 points than they are to relegation territory. I have to make the call here that they are not going to be in the dogfight.

That leaves 6 teams to fight for three spots.

18th Avispa Fukuoka 16 points -20

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Avispa coach Masami Ihara rarely has anything to smile about

The promotion playoff spot has been a death trap since it’s inception and this year is no different. 10 of their 15 losses have come by 1 goal differentials so they have managed to keep things competitive. Their biggest issue has been scoring or the lack thereof. The best thing going for Avispa right now is their schedule. 5 of their last 9 matches come against the 5 teams directly above them in relegation territory. They will have to do better than the 1-2-2 record they posted against the collection of squads in the first stage. Good news for Avispa is the return of Masashi Kamekawa from Japan’s unsuccessful Rio campaign. As much as I’d like to see them stay up, I’d say at this point it’s doubtful. If they are going to do something though, it’s going to have to start next week away versus…

14th Albirex Niigata 24 points -10

There are a lot of good parts on Niigata and on paper they look like a team that should be a competitive mid table squad. Then they put up a turd against a struggler like Ventforet Kofu. It would be hard to see a team with Leo Silva getting dropped to J2 but that’s where we see Niigata at the moment. The last three matches come against perennial bullies Urawa, Gamba, and Sanfrecce so Albirex are not a lock to be safe. Avispa is a must win 6 pointer this week especially considering they lost ground to….

15th Ventforet Kofu 23 points -20

The league’s poorest team just seems to do enough to survive. It seems very counterintuitive that the team would give up leading scorer Cristiano and talented attacker Michael Chuka in order to bring in the ghosts of J League foreign guys past but they did it. It hasn’t really hurt them either. Dudu has come in and scored 3 goals in 5 matches. Marquinhos Parana has been a settling presence in midfield and Davi….well can’t win em all I suppose. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for them with only two matches against Relegation no-hopefuls Avispa and……

17th Shonan Bellmare 19 points -21

 If you want to know exactly when Shonan got relegated, you can look back to loss time in the last match of the first stage. Shonan were well on their way to a road victory when they allowed a last minute equalizer which kept them in relegation territory. Since that game, they’ve dropped 7 of their last 8 matches including a horrid 6 game losing streak. It looks like the team might already be resigned to J2. If they can manage to keep in touching distance of 15th place after their next 3 matches against Kashima, Gamba, and FC Tokyo they could possibly pull themselves out of relegation. 4 of their final 6 are against their 5 rivals. They had a lackluster 2-0-3 record but started off well in the second stage. Their lone win came against Albirex. Their fate could come down to a week 17 match against…..

16th Nagoya Grampus 19 points -18

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Stop right there. I know what everybody is thinking, This is the year Nagoya finally gets relegated. I have to admit that the 15 match winless streak has been an especially nice touch but I’m still not buying it. Nope. No way, no how. They should go. They are a bad offensive squad and a terrible defensive one. They don’t have a real on field leader and their neophyte manager seems to be not up to the task. Luckily enough for them, there are enough bad teams that they can slither their way out. Let me just say it now, Nagoya is the “Turn Down for What” of the J League and while I’m morally opposed to them there is nothing we can do to stop their reign of mehh. Hey, did you know the last team they beat in a semi-competitive match happens to be…..

13th Jubilo Iwata 27 points -8

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Who knows what the hell is going on down in Iwata at the moment. Jubilo happens to be one of two teams who have yet to record a win in the second stage (Nagoya being the other). Part of their problems lie in goal, Krysztof Kaminski, one of the heroes of last year’s promotion campaign has been out for 14 matches. The team has been a paltry 2-5-7 in those matches. Star forward Jay Bothroyd has been an erratic presence in the lineup and a rumored disruption off the field. Any truth to it? I don’t know, but there seems to be something off between him and manager Nanami. Finally, losing Yuki Kobayashi to the Dutch isn’t going to help matters very much. They should be fine with an 8 point cushion, but things seem to be going south for them in a hurry.

If you held a gun to my head I would have to say next year’s J2 campaign will include Avispa, Shonan, and Kofu because they’ve all been relegated plenty of times before…….but I could be wrong.

Oh, and please enjoy this…..

 

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