It's rare for defeat to feel good, but F.C.Tokyo began their season with a hard-fought loss to defending champions Kawasaki Frontale that most felt was an impressive showing from an improved side.
Since then, confidence has only grown in the capital. The Blue and Red have won three straight, buoyed by a stingy defense that has only allowed one goal in the last 280 minutes. That run has seen them climb to fifth place despite playing fewer matches than anyone else in the top half of the table.
Simply put, F.C.Tokyo appear to be well and truly back. The club that finished second in 2019 and brought home silverware in 2020 is prepared to challenge the top teams once again.
They’ll do that this weekend when they travel to Nissan Stadium for a clash with Yokohama F·Marinos. Kevin Muscat’s men are second in the table and nobody in the league has scored more goals. Led by Teruhito Nakagawa, Marinos have been a terror going forward and will challenge Tokyo’s excellent defense.
The question is whether Tokyo’s strong backline can hold up against the Marinos attack. If they can, and keep their run of keeping goals out going, a result in Yokohama could be headed their way.
This will be a litmus test for just how far along Tokyo have come under new manager Albert Puig. Marinos are a proven top team in the Meiji Yasuda J1 League; F.C.Tokyo want to be there too, making the jump back among the elite.
Thus far, they look like a team that can do that, and getting a result in Yokohama will go a long way to cementing their spot among the top pack once more.