2024 J.League season preview: Kashiwa Reysol looking to make a leap

2024 J.League season preview: Kashiwa Reysol looking to make a leap

Kashiwa Reysol have had a funny alternating pattern emerge ever since being promoted back to the Meiji Yasuda J1 League in 2020.

One season they will turn in a strong top-half finish, and follow it up the next year with a relegation battle.

After last season’s fight at the foot of the table, they’ll be hoping the pattern sticks for one more season and that a leap into the top half is in the cards for 2024.

2023 review

Reysol started the season with two draws, but four straight losses followed and they were bottom of the table. They’d never climb higher than 15th or get out of the relegation fight the rest of the way, but four straight stalemates to close the season proved enough to push them four points clear of the drop.

Once again, Mao Hosoya and Matheus Sávio were Reysol’s saving graces. Hosoya scored 14 goals as the 22-year-old established himself as one of the league’s top strikers, while Sávio added 10 assists as the duo rescued Reysol from relegation.

Key loss

Keiya Shiihashi - Reysol’s defense wasn’t awful last season and a big part of that was Shiihashi’s work in front of the back line. The defensive midfielder regularly cut out danger in transition and allowed Reysol to get numbers behind the ball.

Now, Shiihashi is off to Nagoya Grampus and Reysol have a big hole in their team as they hope to keep their defense from regressing.

Key addition

Kosuke Kinoshita - Hosoya is a phenom and, as such, is likely to make a move to Europe sooner rather than later. That means Reysol have to be prepared to find goals without their young star.

Kinoshita has proven himself as a credible J1 striker and getting him in from Kyoto Sanga is a big step towards insulating Reysol from Hosoya’s potential departure. In the meantime, he offers manager Masami Ihara some flexibility to put another forward on the pitch with Hosoya or a dynamic bench option, too.

Goal for 2024

The main goal for Reysol is to stay up, but history says that after a relegation fight they’re going to hop up into the top half. Is that realistic for them this season, though?

Reysol haven’t been particularly aggressive in the transfer market and with the top of J1 getting stronger, it may be tough for the Yellow and Black to be too ambitious in goal-setting. The middle of the table is very much within reach, though, with the team clicking on all cylinders.

Kashiwa have the star power up front, but turning an adequate enough defense into a legitimately good defense will probably be the key to advancing far beyond the relegation pack.