Hey everyone – Tim here. First off, a quick apology for the utter lack of articles here – it’s summer, and some of us all need a break too.
As for myself I’ve been occupied with spending my final days in South Korea on this summer’s trip, before preparing for yet another year of high school. I actually think in the US I would literally be a freshman, but seeing how Quebec’s system works I’m two years away from college (separate from university, because here in Quebec, we screw with the rest of Canada and with convention), and marks in this year start counting for college applications and ultimately university. Basically, it’s an important year, so with less than a week to go until it starts, I wanted to be ready.
Justifying my inexcusable lack of posts? Check. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming, we’re going to talk K League in this post. Jinseok, Tomas Danicek (from Sandals For Goalposts) and I will have a podcast on the K League up tomorrow, so this post is simply going to be a preview of the upcoming round’s action.
Suwon Bluewings vs Ulsan Hyundai
10 points separate Suwon Bluewings from the league leading Jeonbuk Hyundai. Like last season, it is hard to see how any team will catch the Green Machine this season, especially a Suwon side missing first string goalkeeping Jung Sungryong and one that transfered out their lone real striker. Instead, Seo Jungwon is playing Seo Jungjin as the one top while Ilyan Mitsanski struggles to find form and break into the starting eleven. If Ulsan are bold enough to drop Kim Shinwook then perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for a side who has lost just 4 times at home.
FC Seoul vs Daejeon Citizen
Daejeon Citizen won.
No, not the trophy for worst own goal or most unorganized defence in the history of this planet.
An actual game.
A K League game.
In the K League.
I did not make this up.
All kidding aside, Daejeon, buoyed by a double from summer signing Wanderson, were able to secure a win against Gwangju midweek, closing(?) the gap between relegation and a playoff to just(?) 10 points. Now, I wouldn’t exactly put money on Daejeon stringing together two consecutive wins – I mean, whoa guys, this winning thing might be such a drastic change from the usual it would be too much for me to handle. Seoul’s summer signings were firing on all cylinders midweek against Busan with a goal from Yohiro Takahagi and a brace from Adriano. Ah, yes. Adriano. It will be the Brazilian striker’s first game against his former club. And for once, I really hope Adriano won’t buoy his side to victory.
Seongnam FC vs Busan I’Park
Seongnam just don’t seem to do losses anymore. Without a defeat in their last 6 matches and riding the coattails of their 1-0 victory against the Bluewings midweek, Seongnam and Kim Hakbum look like a team on a mission right now. Hwang Uijo is on form, their defense is holding up even despite the odd injury pestering their central pairing. They sit in 4th and a win here could see them inch into that final ACL spot over Pohang. Busan, of course, are down in 11th place and seem resigned to remain there for the remainder of the season unless they can start an improbable winning streak or, even more improbably, succumb to Daejeon and fall into 12th.
Jeonbuk Hyundai vs Incheon United
League leading Jeonbuk Hyundai will host the world’s most average team, Incheon United. Although Choi Kanghee’s side will certainly be more preoccupied with Asian Champions League looming with the first leg against Gamba Osaka going this Wednesday in Jeonju, the depth in their squad should be enough to put away Incheon. Despite this, Jeonbuk did lose shockingly 3-0 last weekend against Pohang, so nothing is out of the question, and if Incheon wishes to break into the top half with 7 game to go until the split, every point is valuable.
Gwangju FC vs Jeju United
A season that promised much is quickly floundering into a season of nothing really for both Gwangju and Jeju. We remember the rapid start and promising beginning to Gwangju’s re-birth in the top tier, but an exhausting road trip may have taken the momentum and the wind out of Gwangju’s sails. Jeju promised pace that could tear nearly every defense to shreds, but injuries and that infamous suspension to Kang Sooil, as well as sheer inability to stay consistent and keep the goals allowed down meant the Islanders wouldn’t create many fireworks in this season. Ultimately this game seems to me like one with little to no implications. A 7 point gap to make up (to reach the top 6 of the split) is a fairly tall order in this tight midtable of the K League.
Jeonnam Dragons vs Pohang Steelers
Jeonnam’s form has shaken, the optimism and promise of an ACL berth in the league now turned into a dogfight for those places. They sit now in 6th, losing the Jeolla derby midweek. Pohang’s form has risen, Kim Seungdae looking sharper than ever after a relatively successful stint with the national team. But both teams are still fairly tight in the standings and determined to secure the 3rd ACL spot for their own all while attempting to dent Suwon for second. Who will take this POSCO derby?
The first four games will be on Saturday at 6am (7pm KST), while the latter two take place on Sunday at the same time.
The K League Challenge fixtures are:
Ansan-Goyang – Both teams out of the playoff spots at the moment, and not looking likely to climb up to fourth
Sangju-Suwon FC – The Army look to stretch the lead atop of the table, but Suwon FC hopes to improve their playoff standing with 2nd to 4th all tied on 39 points
Seoul ELand-Gangwon – Gangwon have fallen, and they eagerly await a fresh new season, but Seoul E-Land’s games are massive, each one, as they are one of the aforementioned teams tied on 39 points
Bucheon-Chungju – 5 points seperate Bucheon from the playoff spots. They remain in the picture for the moment. Wins like these are key if they want to pull into the top 4.
Daegu-Gyeongnam – Oh how the goodish have fallen. Gyeongnam are bottom of the league after finishing second to last in the top tier last season. Daegu are hoping for a return to that top tier. They’re that other team on 39 points.
7th place Anyang are on bye this weekend.
Thanks for reading – stick around for that podcast tomorrow. Plus, we’ve got two new writers to unveil – you’ll have heard of both of them on social media before. Let the speculation, rumors and passive-aggressive Louis Van Gaal press conferences begin. Ok no but Roy will announce them in the coming hours/days/whenever so certainly stay tuned for that! The Tavern is back and in full swing, everyone! Jalgayo from the TSQ.