Go back to the 2019 season and you will see Yokohama F·Marinos celebrating a league title. They conquered the league, and nobody had a bigger role in that than Teruhito Nakagawa. The winger led the Meiji Yasuda J1 League in goals and earned MVP honors for his brilliant play.
The last two years have not been nearly as good for Nakagawa, who scored just two goals in each season, but early returns in 2022 have the Marinos man back on top of his game again.
Nakagawa kicked off the season with a goal in Marinos’ season-opening draw against Cerezo Osaka. He followed that up with a masterful performance against defending champions Kawasaki Frontale, scoring twice in the second half to lead the Tricolor to an emphatic win.
The blistering Nakagawa who would beat fullbacks down the wing? He’s back.
The clever Nakagawa who would make runs into the box and beat defenders to crosses? He’s back.
The marvelous Nakagawa who had the ambition to hit 25-yard curlers and skill to put them in the very top corner? He’s back.
It’s very early, but Nakagawa is flashing the form that made him the best player in the league in 2019. The form that made Marinos champions, which they are chasing again in 2022. Maybe no development in the season’s first month is as consequential as Nakagawa’s return to form.
This week, Marinos take on a Kashiwa Reysol team that looked superb in a season-opening 2-0 win over Shonan Bellmare. They will not be a walk over and, for all the excitement over Marinos’ win over Frontale, they were held to a home draw over the weekend. If the Tricolor are going to win the title, they need to take three points at every opportunity. Nakagawa being back to his old dynamic self gives them a great chance to do just that.