Yokohama FC were the last team in the top flight to record a win this season and they’ve been fighting an uphill battle ever since. They were bottom of the table for almost the entirety of the season, a certain bet for relegation, but after a draw and two wins in their last three contests, a great escape may be on — and nobody is playing a bigger role in the Fulie’s surge than Saulo Mineiro.
The Brazilian was signed by Yokohama in the summer, joining a team that was bottom of the league in goals and last in the table on points. They needed an infusion of quality up front, and the forward has given them just that.
Saulo Mineiro took a few weeks to get his feet wet in Japan, but put on a show in the Yokohama Derby. Taking on one of the league’s top teams, the relegation-battlers were big underdogs, but the Brazilian scored the opening goal to give Yokohama FC a massive lift. Then, after Marinos scored a pair to take the lead, Saulo Mineiro scored again, this time in the 89th minute to earn his club a massive draw. A week later, it was the new Fulie star dragging Kashima Antlers’ defenders left and right, opening space for his teammates as Yokohama won against another top side, 2-1.
Scoring a couple goals per match was a massive improvement for a team that struggled to find the net all season, but they took it to another level last week. With Saulo Mineiro leading the way by bagging another brace, Yokohama FC scored five in a thumping of relegation rivals Tokushima Vortis, 5-3.
In the last three matches alone, Saulo Mineiro has jumped to the team’s joint-lead in goals scored on the year and the team have scored 30% of their entire season’s output in that stretch. Most importantly, Yokohama FC are off the bottom of the table and just four points from safety.
Can Yokohama continue their great escape? They face another relegation rival, Shonan Bellmare, this weekend in a match that could move them to the verge of safety. With Saulo Mineiro leading the attack, the Fulie have to feel good about their chances.