The Kosuke Report

“y u no stop losing ball lol?”

Before the Real Salt Lake game, I’d compiled some information on our new signing, Kosuke Kimura. Initially, it was because I’d like to see how he’d improve the team as right-back and how John Spencer would help him bed in. As a newcomer to the MLS, I can read statistics and garner some expectation of the type of player he is.

He played 12 games for Colorado this season. Given that he’d been such a fan favourite, won the MLS Cup there, become the first Japanese player to grace the MLS, I was surprised that the reason he came to us was cited as “wanting more first team football”.

So, I began looking through his individual stats and analysing the goals scored and conceded by Colorado on a game-by-game basis.

10/03/12 – Columbus Crew (H) 2-0
He had an indifferent start to the season at home to Columbus, attempting 42 passes with a completion rate of 66.7%. He also lost possession of the ball 16 times. However, he got both assists in the 2-0 win. His first cross, a fantastic cross back into the box from a failed corner, right on to the head of Drew Moor. The second, was a nice probing run and layoff. We really could do with that service.

18/03/12 – Philadelphia Union (A) 2-1
His second game of the season on the road came against Philadelphia, where he had a tough time. The Rapids won 2-1, with Kimura completing 28 passes. However, he made 31 unsuccessful passes – a success rate of 47.5%. He lost possession 35 times in the course of the game and conceded 2 fouls. The goal that was conceded was scored not by a man who scored it, but he moved out of the defensive line too quickly, leaving a gap behind him that Philadelphia punished. Not solely his responsibility (he wasn’t marking the scorer, Pajoy, in the corner kick that lead up to the goal), but he was involved. He did put in some defensive contribution by making 1 interception and 4 clearances. Still not a stellar performance.

25/03/12 – New York Red Bulls (A) 1-4
A week later he started against the New York Red Bulls, in Colorado’s 4-1 humping. Kimura had a relatively successful match though, misplacing only 10 of 55 passes. He improved his crossing rate, attempting 3, 2 of which were successful. Whilst he wasn’t really at fault for any of the goals (Henry and Cooper ripping the two center backs to pieces), he could’ve done better on the 4th, not putting his foot in and winning the ball early in the move. He did, however, work his arse off.

01/04/12 – Chicago Fire (H) 2-0
Again, Kimura continued his impressive passing game back on the familiar ground of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. He hit a pass success rate of 88.7% (55/7) – up 7% on his previous game. 3 of those passes were “key passes”, whereby an attempt on goal is made directly from said pass. He obviously got forward more, although only 1 of his 4 crosses were successful. His defensive statistics are slightly sparse, but this may have been more indicative of Colorado’s win. Kimura only lost the ball 7 times.

07/04/12 – Real Salt Lake (A) 2-0
After conceding the 2nd, Kimura came off after the hour to be replaced by Tony Cascio, in an effort to save the game. They didn’t. Kosuke was nearest Saborio who scored RSL’s first game, but probably shouldn’tve been marking him. He was also close to the 2nd goal, Espindola getting in between him and Wynne, albeit controlling it with his hand. Statistically, not his greatest game either. 73.3% pass success rate from 45 passes. His attacking contribution was nothing to write home about, withonly 1 unsuccessful cross.

14/04/12 – seattle (A) 1-0
A week later, he was back on the road at Seattle (poor bastard). He gave an improved performance, even though Seattle pipped them to the 3 points. The Sounders completely flummoxed them from corner, Zach Scott heading in on the near post. Kosuke not at fault. His pass success rate improved, as well as the total number of passes. 89 attempted passes with 78.7% of them reaching their destination. He did, however, lose possession 23 times.

21/04/12 – LA Galaxy (H) 1-2
A bit of a day to forget for Kimura against the Galaxy. He had a big part to play in LA’s second goal, with Robbie Keane carrying the ball, Kosuke got pulled out of position by Edson Buddle, leaving an acre of space for Landycakes to run into. He did try and get back, but it was little too late. He did attempt 10 crosses in the match, 3 of which successful. If you read this blog, then you’ll know how much I like my Opta Chalkboard graphics. Well, here’s a lovely one highlighting the consistency of Kimura’s crossing ability. One or two are far too close to the keeper, but the 3 successful crosses bore an attempt on goal. For a not-so-great game, some positives came out of it.

28/04/12 – Chivas USA (H) 4-0
A Colorado rout, yes. But, Kimura was substituted at half time against Chivas, for Hunter Freeman – the man Colorado eventually preferred as their long-term Right-Back. Unfortunately for our Kosuke, the game was locked at 0-0 when he came off. Kimura had a solid game, misplacing only 8 of 40 passes, losing possession 8 times. However, he nearly got caught out in minute 38 when Bolanos out-muscled him, but hit disappointingly wide.

06/05/12 – FC Dallas (A) 0-2
Kosuke sat out the midweek trip to New England, where Colorado lost 2-1, but was restored to the team against Dallas. Nothing spectacular to note, except he successfully completed 4 of his 10 attempted crosses – again showing his attacking contribution.

19/05/12 – Sporting Kansas City (H) 2-2
Again, Kosuke was rotated out of the squad for the game in Washington DC, only to be drafted back in against Kansas City. He marked his return with a nice little opportunistic equaliser inside the 6 yard box. It was a little bit lucky, but great awareness from Kosuke. Unfortunately, the first goal scored by Kansas could’ve been defended better by Kimura. He comitted the cardinal sin that every amateur 5aside player makes – he turned his back on the cross. The cross was a good one, and KC capitalised on it. He had an OK game otherwise, his defensive contribution being the greatest. He won 4 tackles, made 2 interceptions, 3 clearances and 6 recovering tackles.

26/05/12 – Montreal Impact (H) 3-2
Kosuke kept his place in the team, and was rewarded with a full 90 minute run-out. As the game suggests, neither defence were hardly water-tight. The 14th minute goal was a lovely build-up by Montreal – a fantastic dink over the keep by Bernier for Montreal. That play went through Kosuke though. It’s hard to criticise as it was a fast, flowing goal that was difficult to defend. He was caught out though.

16/06/12 – Vancouver Whitecaps (A) 0-1
Kimura played 72 minutes his final match for Colorado after being subbed for Conor Casey. Kosuke had a good game, the substitution tactically. He hit an 85.1% pass success rate, off 47 passes. You’ll be glad to know, he wasn’t on the pitch when Colorado conceded.

And that was that for Kosuke Kimura and his long-time affiliation with Colorado. He was an unused sub against San Jose. He, tellingly, wasn’t in the squad for the visit of the mighty Portland Timbers either. So, is he going to fix our right-back problem? Well, yes… because we literally have no recognised right-back. Kimura does work hard and is able to retain the ball well. I thought, in the spirit of fairness, that it be best to give Jack Jewsbury a fighting chance and look at both his and Kosuke’s averages over the last 5 games they played as right-back (including Kimura’s debut v. RSL).

Note – So this table made more sense to me in my evaluation of Kimura, the variances of the Average and Totals for Unsuccessful Pass/Cross, Tackle Lost and Tackled Possession Lost show negative when Kosuke Kimura has a lower value in these statistics than Jack Jewsbury. For example, Tackled Possesion shows 2.2 in the positive because he lost the ball less than Jewsbury.

There isn’t a great deal of difference between the two averages. But I do think that they are important, if marginal, differences. Kosuke Kimura has a better pass success rate by 5.4%. In saying that, Kimura’s lowest pass success rate in those 5 games was 76.7% against FC Dallas. Jewsbury’s lowest was 67.21% in the win over San Jose Earthquakes. As illustrated before, Kimura adds an extra dimension going forward and this is shown in his marginally better cross rate. Kimura also wins a lot more tackles than Cap’n Jack, 14 in total across the last 5 games to Jewsbury’s 6. Kimura also loses the ball less in possession than Jewsbury – and average of 14.6 a game, to Jack’s 16.8.

I’ve spun the cliché before, but Football’s a game of margins. You can see from the goals Jewsbury’s been at fault for, and the goals Kimura’s conceded – it only takes one mistake. I think having a pure Right-Back in the team will hopefully solidify the defence somewhat. Kimura does have weaknesses in his game, his positional sense comes under scrutiny at times. All in all, I think he’ll be a solid, if hardly earth-shattering acquisition for the Timbers. Statistics aside, Kosuke Kimura seems like a solid gold individual off and on the pitch. I hope his MLS Cup-winning experience will help our younger players, and I hope his work-rate and ability give us a more balanced defence. I hope Gavin Wilkinson doesn’t try and shackle him going forward (I’m reliably informed that he’s been known too), as we’ve seen he can produce a quality cross. Something Kris Boyd in particular has been screaming out for. I think, and I hope, that Kimura will become our fan-favourite. Lord knows we need one at the moment.



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