One goal, two strikers

A confirm and a comeback. Two different careers, spanning throughout several pro-seasons, but coming to the same current situation. 2020 season in J3 League is about to start and it will feature two well-known faces: both has just moved from their previous clubs, finding a new gig for different reasons. One has probably done it to go through memory lane, while the other needed a fresh start after several years of obscurity.

In the end, Tsugutoshi Oishi and Kazuhito Kishida have a lot in common: both born in 1990, both turning 30 this season, both reached the peak of their careers in the third division and both of them are in the history books of this young division. Oishi is the all-time top-scorer of the division, having scored 53 goals. Instead, Kishida holds the record for the most prolific individual season ever (in 2015 he scored all of his 32 J3 goals).

Despite this, there’s one thing splitting them: their career. After that success in J3, they both tried the jump to J2 and basically failed, but how they faced that missed leap in quality is the real deal here. Now it’s time for the 2020 season and they’ll try to leave a new mark on this division. But before going any further, it’s right to look behind and see how they got here.

Oishi on his Tochigi days.

The record-man

While it’s true they’re both born in 1990, Oishi’s career started way before than Kishida’s. After just two years of attendance at Kanagawa University, he dropped this project and joined instead FC Kariya at 19 years old. Back then, Kariya were playing JFL football and they were one of the most credible projects which could then feature in a future third tier. While it didn’t work for the Aichi-based side, Oishi make the most of his time there.

After a first shy rookie season, Kariya dropped to the Tōkai Adult Soccer League, where the club never won the title, but the striker scored 45 goals in 50 games. There was clearly something and when his coach there, Tomohiro Kato, moved to Fujieda MYFC for the first season ever in J3 League, Oishi followed his manager. It was again the right move, since MYFC needed a solid no. 9.

On his second game ever among the pros, Oishi dropped four goals on J3 favorites for the title, Nagano Parceiro, in an away game (he’ll score two more against them in that season). Only Koji Suzuki of Machida Zelvia had a best year than him, but Oishi wasn’t going to stop there. He replicated the same form the following year, scoring 14 in J3 and three in the Emperor’s Cup, including a surprising upset on Shimizu S-Pulse.

An upset featuring another J3 legend, Yuichiro Edamoto.

The no. 9 capitalized on his two seasons and joined Tochigi SC for 2016: the defensive pattern of the club didn’t fit him, but he still scored another 11 goals. But if Tochigi didn’t get promoted, he still jumped to J2, joining Renofa Yamaguchi. Unfortunately, Renofa had many choices in the offensive department and Oishi had to regret the move, scoring only three goals in the first year and never featuring in 2018 (seven games played).

To get back on his feet, he went back to J3 for 2019 season, this time signing for SC Sagamihara, who already featured massive fan favorite João Gabriel. This time, though, Oishi won over his manager, Fumitake Miura, becoming the starter and forcing the club to send the Brazilian striker to Tochigi City FC through a strange loan. But that’s not all, because some historical moments came in play.

Besides his fourth season of double digit of goals, Oishi touched the mark of 50 goals by scoring against FC Tokyo U-23, joining a club never seen before. He was indeed the first player to reach this record and who knows how many more he’ll sign in the future. While his career was slowing gaining back track, for his counterpart it didn’t go so smoothly.

One and done

Unlike Oishi, Kazuhito Kishida – twin brother of Shohei, who today plays for Mito HollyHock – attended Fukuoka University for a full four years-run, joining Machida Zelvia at 22 years old. Machida just got relegated from their first J2 adventure to JFL and welcomed this young lad, who scored four goals in 15 games. Unfortunately for him, Zelvia already had a solid striker like Koji Suzuki and opted to let Kishida go somewhere else.

That’s where the striker made not a good, but an excellent choice: Renofa Yamaguchi. He first joined on loan, but soon the club realized what kind of material they had in their hands. Under the 4-2-3-1 of manager Nobuhiro Ueno, Renofa clinched the fourth place and got promoted. Kishida was the top-scorer with 17 goals, but the club wasn’t in J3 just to be a mere sparring partner.

2015 was probably the best season around of a J3 team ever (maybe 2018 version of FC Ryukyu can be comparable): Renofa were just crushing the league, winning in large digits and getting 13 victories out of their 15 games. In this run, Kishida was crucial: he even endured a run of ten consecutive games with at least one goal. He left his mark with two hat-tricks and three braces, ending the season with 32 goals.

He scored against EVERY team of the league and, icing on the cake, he was the top-scorer, while two of his team-mates – Takaki Fukumitsu and Yatsunori Shimaya – were second and third in this special table. If they kept all the pieces together, Renofa were facing a good chance of making a solid impression even in J2. And if somehow they did, Kishida didn’t follow through.

Kishida stayed four more seasons in Yamaguchi and the club kept his place in J2, although sometimes they’ve suffered more than expected (like in 2017, when Ueno left and Carlos Mayor brought the club only to twentieth place, just one point above the relegation line). Despite that, Yamaguchi have been a steady presence in J2, even giving major spotlight to some huge talents (Ado Onaiwu had his breakthrough season with Renofa).

But despite many players shone there, Kishida never matched his J3 breakout. He scored on his second J2 game ever, leaving his mark on a 1-0 away win in Kitakyushu in the second round of 2016. But after that, he scored just three more goals in the whole season; in 2017, he reached seven. And when Onaiwu took his spot, he dropped to four goals again. Last year was particularly rough.

In 2019, under Masahiro Shimoda, Kishida played just nine times and score his only and last goal in second division, again hitting Tokyo Verdy (which have a terrible record against Kishida: he scored five goals in eight matches against them). Shimoda opted to rely mostly on Keita Yamashita and he had Masato Kudo in the roster, so he didn’t really need Kishida. Which is why the striker opted to leave Yamaguchi after six seasons.

What’s coming in 2020

As you may have seen, the trajectory of the two strikers was really different. And that’s why, in the end, they got to pick profoundly different options for the 2020 season.

After 11 goals with SC Sagamihara, Oishi chose to come back to Fujieda MYFC after five years. It was probably a heart-felt move, but we wonder how manager Nobuhiro Ishizaki will be able to integrate Oishi’s amount of goals with the unique season Yasuhito Morishima had last year (16 goals). The two seem the same kind of striker, so basically a true no. 9, although playing with different styles.

Although it’s true that having both of them will be an asset for Fujieda – who are looking to repeat the extraordinary 2019 season, closed in third place –, you have to wonder how those two will mix together. Will one of the two erase the other or they will fit together? Playing both will be compromising for MYFC’s football plan? It’s gonna be interesting to witness and it’ll play a crucial role in 2020 season for the club.

On the other hand, Kishida needed a way more radical move. Renofa have lost both Yamashita and Kudo, but replaced them with other players. Yamaguchi didn’t let though Kishida leave completely, since the no. 9 joined Iwate Grulla Morioka on a loan. We know this move might sound a little desperate, but this might be a really good match for several reasons.

First: Kishida deeply needed another J3 year, just to regain confidence. Second: Morioka just lost his greatest product ever, Kaito Taniguchi, who joined Roasso Kumamoto. Third: after a dramatic season, Grulla got the financial support of NOVA Holdings and Borussia Dortmund with a couple of partnership. Fourth: the roster was built from scratch, with a lot of movements in and out of the club. Fifth: Antlers legend Yutaka Akita is the new coach.

Sure, Kishida will have to fight for his spot, but if he could find a couple of goals immediately, then the rest will probably come by itself. So those two are up to write new pages in the history books of J3: Oishi will try to retain his record and mark a fifth season in double digits, while Kishida would sign right now to even score half the goals of 2015 season. It’s gonna be fun, no doubt.

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