Gambare Kudo

So, as for Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kudo. Since quite early in this his 1st MLS season, I've been hearing Whitecaps fans/media people saying, "Kudo is too lightweight for MLS." My thought was, "Kudo hasn't yet even been able to prove if he's light or not. Let him play."

But, I met Kudo yesterday (Sept 4th) at a Burnaby Japanese festival and was surprised to see how skinny he was. Then, all the comments against him became clear to me. What they'd meant by 'weight' was a sturdy build like Hurtado's that enables FW to bulldoze DF away. Skinny Kudo certainly doesn't look suitable for that job. They may be right that Kudo is too lightweight, if that's the main job for a striker in MLS.

(2013 All the Masato Kudo 29 goals)

What Kudo is good at is defying DF/GK's expectations. This video shows it well. In 2013
he scored 29 goals (!) for Kashiwa Reysol in J-League + Asian Champions League (went up to the semi-final), and many of the goals defied viewers' expectations. Those shrewd grounder shots!

Kudo (and any FW must, really) wants a ball that he can play to manipulate opponents. A grounder pass while he's facing forward would be ideal. Instead of those playable short-and-low passes, what the 'Caps FW's get is a long, bouncy ball that they have to fight over with DF's. All the players know where the ball goes, so the rest is a matter of speed and power. That's when 'weight' matters.

I said to Kudo, "I know how hard it is to score for the Whitecaps at the moment. It's a tough job, isn't it?" Caps are winless for nearly 2 months in MLS.

He laughed. He looked happy that I said so. And he said, "In any way, I'm determined to contribute to the Whitecaps. I'd like to play here for a long time!"

He was the star player for the Reysol, and the team didn't want him to leave, but he wanted to play abroad and saw Vancouver, MLS as the place to go. I don't think he expected this much hardship, but he didn't seem sulky or deflated. Gambare, Kudo! (Hang in there, Kudo)

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