Part2 of the Costa Rica/Korea match… and while the fireworks on the field last Saturday might have been a bit subdued, it’s not everyday that the KNT makes its way to play in the United States. The experience itself in taking in the game with other supporters is something only San Antonio and West Coast/LA Tavern goers will be lucky to have for this mini tour as Hong Myong-Bo figures out who will make the final 23 man World Cup roster.
Representing Tavern Koreatown/LA: Jeremy Paek. Earlier before the match, he was interviewed by A Football Report, then rushed to the stadium and detailed his adventure at the game with his camera (from what I understand, he snuck in the media section to get some great shots). Here’s his report:
Review: South Korea vs Costa Rica
by Jeremy Paek
Greetings fellow Taverners! Just came back from an amazing and tiring trip in which I saw the KNT/Costa Rica match. This is my first professional football match that I’ve attended so far, and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to talk about the experience and contribute my thoughts on the Taeguk Warriors. This is also my first time blogging about football, and I hope to do it more often here at the Tavern.
Our crowded bus finally stopped in front of Exposition Park, where the University of Southern California is located. The heavy traffic made us late for the match, so we started running towards the coliseum, with five minutes before kickoff remaining. Once we approached the coliseum, a guard told us to head to Entrance 4. While running towards the gate, I could slightly see the stadium screen, and seeing the footballers in white already positioned and running for the ball made me nervous and excited. As we arrived at the gate, we were greeted with a massive line of Reds still trying to enter the stadium. Fortunately, we were able cut through the line and make in past the security checkpoint in about a minute.
As we walked through the tunnel, we saw plenty of Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Manchester United jerseys. Of course, most of the Korea jerseys had the Park-Chu Young, Park Ji-Sung names, and we even saw a few Koreans in Brazilian colors. And right when we settled into our seats, BAM. Kim Shin-Wook puts one into the back of the net. Of course, we all stood up and joined our team in jubilation. Me? I was still trying to absorb the fact that I was seeing Lee Keun-Ho in action, and Jung-Sung Ryong and Lee-Beom Young warming up right in front of us! Not too long ago, both goalkeepers made crucial saves against the home nation of the 2012 Olympics.
Throughout the first-half, Korea dominated in the midfield. The Costa Ricans didn’t pose much of a threat as most attacks were put to an end. In the upper rows, a group of Korean fans spouted racial taunts in insufficient Spanish towards the Costa Ricans, especially whenever they tried to attack. Definitely an embarrassing thing to see that took away some fun from the match. And to my right, were kids 7-9 learning about the Yellow/Red Card rule. A good number of chances were created by the Koreans to double their lead, but in the final third, execution was not accurate enough.
During the start of the second-half, Costa Rica started to keep better possession of the ball. They had some good chances to equalize, but couldn’t produce a good finish. Their frustration later earned one of the players a straight-Red. And as he was walking off the pitch, he saluted us sarcastically while being congratulated by the fans for his card-earning tackle. At one point, a Korean player tripped Costa-Rican defender, and a small scuffle ensued while the screens in the stadium were blocked from showing the contentious issue. I saw a Korean player play some theatrics by lying in the penalty area as a Costa Rican tried to distract the referee. It was all very surreal. Another red card followed, and Costa Rica was finally reduced to nine-men. Jorge Pinto made several substitutions but none of them proved to be effective. Kim-Shin Wook’s goal at the 20 minute mark stood as the only goal in the match, as Korea couldn’t score once more against a team that was severely weakened. Lee Keun-Ho struck the ball beautifully many times, but couldn’t the back of the net. In the end, Korea wins 1-0.
After the end of the game, I was able to grab Lee-Keun Ho’s attention from a distance and give him the exchange shirts gesture! He simply smiled and kept walking. I called out Kim Shin-Wook and congratulated him for his goal by giving him a thumbs-up. These two guys are my favorite K-League players and I think if it wasn’t for mandatory military conscription in Korea, they could potentially be world-class. They seemed to be the most popular players amongst the fans, as many shouted out their names whenever they got a good chance.
The next fixture in Los Angeles will be against the USMNT on Feb. 1. I don’t have a ticket yet, and Carson is far from Koreatown, but we’ll see what happens. Any Taverners attending the match, please let me know.
Park Ji-Sung’s public conference and Ha-Dae Sung’s injury didn’t seem to affect the team very much. In general, the Taeguk Warriors are a team with strong potential, and I think HMB has done quite well by teaching his team how to take control of a game by implementing a nice passing tactic. And since the dark age of Choi-Kang Hee and his disastrous WC qualifying campaign, I can only imagine that he has done well with instilling team spirit. However, they are sorely lacking in the final third, as they are without a competent striker. Park Chu-Young is insufficient. And of course, many players are prevented from developing their careers due to mandatory military service. With the limited options he has, I think Hong Myung-Bo is doing a good job preparing his team for the World Cup. I am more than confident that the Taeguk Warriors will climb over the first hurdle and advance to the next round. After that, anything can happen.
The KNT’s next match is on Wednesday, January 29 in the Alamodome of San Antonio. Stay tuned!