Another Wednesday, another full slate of K League matches. Did Ulsan finally break out of their slump and win? Did Choi Kwanghee’s goal sink Choi Kanghee’s team? Find out the answers to those questions and more in the Round 19 Recap. We’ll also check in on the K League Challenge.
Jeonbuk Hyundai 2:1 Busan I’Park
Neither side was able to put out their best teams for this one, a clash of 1st-place Jeonbuk and 11th-place Busan. Jeonbuk had Eninho injured, Edu not in the squad and Han Kyowon still serving suspension (for an incident back in April), while Busan’s Brazilian trio were left out of the squad completely, meaning we saw a rare all-Korean 18.
Lee Donggook struck first in the 32nd minute, when questionable Busan defending allowed the Lion King a volley on goal, which he smashed into the top corner of the net from close range. The visitors replied emphatically 6 minutes later when Busan played a textbook counter, that saw Choi Kwanghee finish. No, not the former-KNT and current-Jeonbuk manager Choi Kanghee, but a fella that plays for Busan named Choi Kwanghee.
At the restart, Jeonbuk were much more aggressive and had several quality chances to get that 2nd goal. In fact, they struck the bar twice, through Moon Sangyoon and Leonardo. Lee Seungryeol missed an empty netter not much later, and near the end of the match it was Lee Donggook being denied by the Busan keeper making a fantastic save.
However, a penalty conceded in the 87th minute by Kim Yongtae allowed Lee Donggook to score the winning PK to give Jeonbuk 3 points at home and send Busan home packing with nothing to show for their efforts.
Jeonnam Dragons 0:0 Pohang Steelers
Gwangyang Stadium was home to the POSCO derby, with both sides being sponsored by the steel-making company. The team news was fairly as expected, with younger Moon Changjin starting in place of Brazilian import Andre Moritz, something that has been happening for the last few games (I believe). Neither side really threatened very much, however, with Jeonnam keeper Kim Byungji forced into one save. In fact, Pohang only took 3 shots the entire match!
Seongnam FC 3:1 Daejeon Citizen
Daejeon changed formation for about the 5th time this season, playing a 4-3-3 instead of a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3, to compensate perhaps for Adriano’s suspension in this game. Chaotic defending (a poor clearance by Song Juhan) in the 10th minute gave Hwang Uijo a clear chance on goal, and luckily for the Citizen, keeper Park Juwon made himself big to stop the 1v1 chance. Seongnam broke through in the 36th minute, however, due to Song Juhan failing to clear his lines again. Hwang Uijo was in on goal, and threaded a pass in the 6-yard box to Nam Joonjae who beat his man for the tap-in.
Daejeon rarely threatened at Tancheon and that’s why it wasn’t completely unsurprising to see the Magpies’ score the next goal. Yun Youngseon flicked on the free kick past Park Juwon to double Seongnam’s advantage. Hwang Uijo finally got his well-deserved goal in the 58th minute after some pathetic Daejeon defending once more. It’s his 7th of the season.
Although Daejeon later tallied through Hwang Inbeom, showing some nice control a booming shot, it would be little consolation for the visitors. Manager Choi Moonsik has said that he will be making wholesale changes to the squad, and for many Citizen players, this might be their last games in a Daejeon uniform as the transfer window is now open.
Jeju United 2:4 FC Seoul
It was Choi Yongsoo’s last game as an FC Seoul manager (at least for now), but the players and maybe Choi himself did not know it at the time. Both teams changed their shape, with the Islanders moving to a back three, and Seoul moving away from that system to their Plan B that they tried earlier in the year, a 4-3-3 with Yun Illok and Everton Santos on the wings.
Park Chuyoung had the ball in the back of the net in the 8th minute, but he was called back for offside. Not too long later, Shim Sangmin’s cross found Everton Santos who’s diving header finish was perfect. A 9th minute tally and the visitors were up 1-0. Jeju answered quickly however, a goal that Seoul would rather not concede again. Kim Sangwon beat Shim Sangmin with the take-on, and drew the keeper Kim Yongdae into a 1v1, before cutting back to an unmarked Kim Hyun for the tap in. A fairly weak goal to concede.
The second half saw even more goals. Park Chuyoung had his breakthrough, scoring a tap-in from a scramble off of a corner kick. A real poacher’s goal and Park’s 4th tally of the season. Cue his customary knee-slide prayer celebration.
Seoul continued to pile on the chances, with Kim Hyeonseong scoring a header off of a free kick and Molina converting a penalty kick in the 85th minute. A poor defensive performance from Jeju and an offensive clinic by Seoul, who took a whopping 20 shots in the entire match.
Incheon United 1:0 Gwangju FC
Incheon continued their recent run of form with a one goal win over Gwangju. Kevin Oris scored the goal for the hosts off of an errant pass by Gwangju CB Jeong Hojeong. Oris intercepted the terrible pass, and with the Gwangju keeper off his line and unaware, coolly finished into the bottom left corner.
Gwangju threw the kitchen sink at Incheon, as they have for the last couple of games, and the hosts resigned themselves to a defend-and-counter tactic. The possession stats reveal a dominating 63% for Gwangju and 11 shots in the second half alone for the visitors. Despite this, Yoo Hyun was solid in goal and Gwangju failed to convert their set pieces as well as their shots from open play. They leave Incheon with nothing but a late red card to leftback Lee Euddeum to show their efforts.
Suwon Samsung Bluewings 3:1 Ulsan Hyundai Tigers
Suwon continued in their 4-2-3-1 with little changes to the side that drew with goal in the Super Match against Seoul on the weekend. Ulsan set up in their 4-4-2 with longballs to Kim Shinwook the main tactic. Both teams thrive on crosses and play directly, but in this game, Suwon came out winners.
The first goal was from youngster Kwon Changhoon. (I personally believe we will be seeing him in the East Asian Cup because Stielike has hinted he likes some of the Olympic team players). The 22-year-old lost his marker in textbook fashion and headed home perfectly weighted cross from Yeom Kihun. Suwon conceded a goal equally as softly in the 38th minute, with Kim Shinwook heading home a free kick.
Suwon retook the advantage in the 43rd minute, off of a Jong Taese free kick. Ulsan had all their players in the wall to try to prevent Yeom Kihun from scoring his specialty free kicks but it was the North Korean international finding a hole in the wall (Suwon’s Santos fading away in the wall, leaving a small space for Jong to shoot at) and beating Kim Seunggyu.
Jong Taese was the hero again for Suwon’s third goal, hitting a delightful half volley which even Kim Seunggyu could not reach. Ulsan didn’t have an answer, lacking solidity in defense and not finding the service to Kim Shinwook they so desperately need. Suwon remain undefeated in their last 5 while Ulsan remains in 10th place, with only 2 wins in their last 15 games, and only 5 goals in their last 7.
The current standings:
|K LEAGUE CLASSIC 2015||Games||Wins||Draws||Losses||Points|
My Team of the Week (4-4-2)
GK: Lee Bumyoung (Busan)
LB: Shim Sangmin (Seoul)
CB: Yoo Youngseon (Seongnam)
CB: Im Jongwoon (Jeonnam)
RB: Kwak Haeseong (Seongnam)
LM: Yeom Kihun (Suwon)
CM: Kwon Changhoon (Suwon)
CM: Molina (Seoul)
RM: Everton Santos (Seoul)
ST: Jong Taese (Suwon) — Player of the Week
ST: Lee Donggook (Jeonbuk)
A quick word on the K League Challenge…
Sangju Sangmu continue to absolutely dominate the league, and predictably so. The army side have scored 44 goals in 18 games – approximately 2.5 goals per game – surely a record. Lee Jeonghyub has been the main reason why – with a strike rate of 1 goal every 2 games, and in the top 5 for goals and assists.
In the battle for second, the best defense in the league, Daegu FC, faced a team finally out of their inevitable early-season slump, Seoul E-Land. The hosts, Daegu, eventually won that crucial game against ‘Real Leoul’ through a late winner by Johnathan midweek. This means Daegu go 2nd.
A quick swing-by the statistics reveals that Seoul E-Land are in the lead in both goals and assists. Striker Joo Minkyu has been spurred on by his absence from Stielike’s squad in June and remains the top scorer in the league, with 15 goals in 17 appearances. Simply incredible. Newest member of the Tavern, Nicole Chung, explained in a bit more detail Joo’s story. Also leading in a statistic is fellow Seoul E-Land player Kim Jaesung. The 31 year-old, who transfered from Pohang Steelers in the winter, leads the second tier in assists, with 8. Seoul E-Land find themselves in third place with 31 points, 8 points off of the top of the table.
Suwon FC (the other Suwon, with no fans) and Goyang Hi (surprisingly) occupy the 4th and 5th place positions, and seem to be distancing themselves from the rest of the 2nd tier. Interestingly, recently relegated side Gyeongnam are averaging less than a goal-per-game and find themselves well out of the promotion playoff picture in 7th place.
Here are the standings – each team will play 40 games this season, but there will be 44 rounds due to byes (because of the odd number of teams).
In my next posts on the K League, I’ll be giving all 12 teams a report card at the midway point of the season, as well as recap a bit of transfer activity. Continue to follow our coverage at the Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors and Jalgayo from the TSQ.