The K League Classic offered up two huge derbies last weekend, and although the results were similar, the excitement levels of the matches were vastly different. And Ulsan facing a relegation threat? Check out how they’re faring. Also, a preview of the next round, which will be the mid-way point of the league.
I do just want to start off this post with an ode to Roy. If you didn’t see his fantastic post on the Women’s football situation in Korea, check it out here. Definitely worth a read. Unfortunately for all of us, it will be Roy’s unofficial last post before he ventures off for family projects. So let me just say this…
Roy is the reason why the Tavern exists, and why all of us writers have been given the opportunity to write here. The first post was “The Case for Park Chuyoung“, written the day before he moved to Celta Vigo, at the end of summer 2012. Since then, the site has grown incredibly, in views and in writers. And I just wanted to thank Roy here for all that he’s done. For the opportunity he gave me, just some kid putting his thoughts in at the BigSoccer forum, to actually write for one of (if not the) most-read English-language Korean-football-only blogs out there. For giving all of us this place to discuss Korean football in Shakespeare’s language. For his enthusiasm, kindness and willingness to give people a chance! His posts will be missed – good luck on future projects Mr. Roy!
I’m not very good at being eloquent when it comes to the weepy stuff lol.
So onto the recaps!
Round 18 Recaps
FC Seoul 0:0 Suwon Bluewings
A fairly underwhelming performance from both sides. It wasn’t a goalless draw where one or both teams threatened to score but didn’t break through, but rather a goalless draw where you could barely name more than two half-chances. It was a bore. Seoul had the better of the first half, but shots were from long range and chances were scarce. Suwon’s main tactic was to get in behind the wingbacks when possible, and whip crosses into the box, which might not have been the smartest idea seeing that Seoul always had their 3 centrebacks stationed there. If ever there was a purpose for playing a back three against a lone striker, it’s that.
Busan I’Park 1:3 Jeju United
Jeju actually won a road game for once! Though you can’t really credit the visitors all too much. After scoring in the 4th minute, Busan defended extremely poorly, and failed to track the late run into the box at all. It was because of that failure to adjust tactically that Jeju scored their first two goals. Although Jeju will be delighted with their first road win, questions still need to be asked about their strike force with an injured Fernando Karanga and a suspended Kang Sooil.
Ulsan Hyundai 0:1 Seongnam FC
Ulsan have lost the plot. Truly. They failed to generate much of a threat against Seongnam at home, testing Seongnam keeper Park Junhyeok only a couple times. Defensively, they are inept, and if Hwang Uijo had been more effective with his numerous chances, Ulsan could have lost by a wide margin. Seongnam’s goal came through Kim Seongjun off of a simple cross. With 1 win in their last 14 games, and now finding themselves in 10th place, Ulsan Hyundai are in some serious trouble.
Pohang Steelers 2:1 Gwangju FC
After a fast start seeing them score two goals in the first 25 minutes (through Son Junho and Moon Changjin!), the Pohang Steelers were made to work the rest of the way by a resilient Gwangju side. I hate Gwangju (because they were very opportunistic in getting promoted and not that I’m jealous of them at all) but you have to give them credit. They create more chances than many well established K League sides. Although they could not get a result in this one, throwing the kitchen sink at Pohang at the end, unless they regress (which I secretely hope they do), it would be very unlikely to see Gwangju go down this season.
Incheon United 2:0 Daejeon we’ll-never-win-a-game-ever-agains
There’s probably not a stat somewhere for “shittiest team in K League history”. But Daejeon would a) already hold it from previous years and b) probably top every single category this year. This game was extremely sad for a fan supporting the Purple Crew. Not only did they concede two goals against an Incheon side which had previously averaged less than a goal per game, they were demolished by the pace of Kim Inseong, and had this same inexplicable defensive ineptitude when in their penalty box. So many times this season, for reasons I cannot explain, Daejeon double teams an opposition player with his back to goal in the penalty box. And about 99% of the team, the opposition player wiggles through and gets a chance. This happened again for the second Kim Inseong goal. To make things worse for Daejeon fans, star striker Adriano elbowed an Incheon player for no reason, earning him a sending-off and potentially a lengthier suspension.
Jeonnam Dragons 2:2 Jeonbuk Motors
Jeonnam have secretly been my second-favorite team this season, I must admit. With some exciting young prospects such as Ahn Youngwoo, Lee Jongho and Lee Changmin, with the delightful play of foreign imports Orsic and Stevica Ristic, combined with their hipster goalkeeper Kim Byungji, there’s nothing not to love! And once again, they came very close to slaying Jeonbuk for the second time this season, with a plethora of chances that had them on top for most of the game. They conceded a pair of late goals to set pieces, however, and nearly lost the match in dramatic fashion to Leonardo in injury time. Jeonbuk are in a bit of a rut but remain atop the table, while Jeonnam are high-flying in 4th.
I had initially hoped for this post to encompass some transfer rumors, but if I am to be awake bright and early tomorrow for Round 19, I need to catch some Z’s. So a quick look at the table and a listing of the fixtures for next round will have to suffice.
|K LEAGUE CLASSIC 2015||Games||Wins||Draws||Losses||Points|
Suwon missed a golden opportunity to make ground on league-leaders Jeonbuk, who have been struggling (for their high standards) of late. Ulsan shockingly find themselves only 4 points above a relegation playoff, though it seems unlikely Busan will be making much noise to get out of that position on their own. Daejeon continue to stay adrift from safety in a league that is otherwise very tight, with only 4 points separating 4th from 9th place.
Round 19 Fixtures
Jeonbuk-Busan: The hosts would not want to fail to win points against a mediocre Busan side
Jeonnam-Pohang: Jeonnam seeking their first win in over 12 games against Pohang, in a battle for 3rd (potentially 2nd) place
Incheon-Gwangju: If Gwangju are to challenge for the ACL (an unlikely scenario that only is mentioned here because Takeuchi is bringing it up…) then this is a game they should be winning.
Seongnam-Daejeon: The Citizen are in a mid-season rebuild predicament that has their manager announcing he will “only keep 1 or 2 players from the current team after the transfer window is over”. When your manager is saying that, it means you really suck. Seongnam should win or draw this. Pretty safe bet.
Suwon-Ulsan: Massive game for Ulsan. They so desperately need a win and to do so at the Big Bird would be a massive statement.
Jeju-Seoul: The Islanders will try to defend their near-perfect home record against a Seoul side who doesn’t like scoring, even with Jung Jogook and Park Chuyoung.
The posts to come in the coming days on the K League will touch on the transfer window which opens today (July 1st) as well as a mid-season report card for all teams. (Spoiler: Daejeon gets an F).
That’s all for now from the TSQ. Instead of my customary Jalgayo, I’ll go with a Happy Canada Day!!! Long live the True North Strong and Free, eh?