K League Review Top 4

In part 1 of this new series, we take a look back at the top four clubs from the 2014 K League Classic season: Jeonbuk Motors, Suwon Samsung, FC Seoul, and Pohang Steelers.

1. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC
Points: 81
Record: 24-9-5
Goals Scored: 61
Goals Conceded: 22

Season in a word: Dominant

Jeonbuk was heavily tipped for the title before the season, and they didn’t disappoint. Only on three occasions did they not find themselves in the top 2 at the end of the round, and after they went top on matchday 18 they never looked back. He didn’t have his best season in recent memory, but Lee Dong-gook continued to be a goal threat for them up top. New acquisition Han Kyo-won settled nicely on the right to complement the threats of Lee Seung-gi and Leonardo. The emergence of young Lee Jae-sung was also a big plus for Jeonbuk.

Looking ahead: A dominant season in the league will need to be complemented by a better run in Asia next season. Jeonbuk got a favorable group, so they’ll expect to go deeper than they did this season. There are still questions about the attack as Lee Dong-gook will turn 36 next year.

Jeonbuk’s Season by the Numbers
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Jeonbuk’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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2. Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC
Points: 67
Record: 19-10-9
Goals Scored: 52
Goals Conceded: 37

Season in a word: Strong

Suwon surprised in the sense that while many thought they’d be a decent side, few predicted they would finish the league in 2nd. The biggest area of improvement for Suwon was probably their consistency. Second-year boss Seo Jung-won also seemed to find a better rotation for his attackers enabling him to get more out of the at-times streaky group of Santos, Roger, and Jung Tae-se. The new midfield pairing of Kim Eun-sun and Kim Du-hyun was also very strong.

Looking ahead: Can Suwon maintain and push on? Difficult to say. If the ownership wants, they of course could, but reinforcements (particularly in defense) will likely be needed. Suwon ended up in a very tricky AFC Champions League group which could really drain the side if they try to push hard in Asia.

Suwon’s Season by the Numbers
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Table Placement Round-by-Round
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3. FC Seoul
Points: 58
Record: 15-13-10
Goals Scored: 42
Goals Conceded: 28

Season in a word: Fortunate

Seoul struggled mightily for most of the first half of the season. Languishing in the bottom half before a very strong second half surge. That was offset by their (slightly) improbably run in Asia to the semifinals before they were dumped out by eventual champions Western Sydney. As a team Seoul was defined more by their overall group play and work ethic rather than any individual brilliance. It’s quite telling that rightback Cha Du-ri was nominated for the Player of the Year award. Their last minute winner over Jeju on the final day probably is a moment that defines their season. Just getting in at the end.

Looking ahead: If Seoul wants to continue to place high in the table and advance in Asia, serious reinforcement is needed. Like rivals Suwon, Seoul will (should they win their qualifier, which they should) end up in a tough group in the AFC Champions League, one that features Guangzhou Evergrande and Western Sydney. They’ll also need to avoid the slow domestic starts that have plagued them the last two years.

Seoul’s Season by the Numbers
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Table Placement Round-by-Round
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4. Pohang Steelers
Points: 58
Record: 16-10-12
Goals Scored: 50
Goals Conceded: 39

Season in a word: Fading

2014 must go down as a disappoint for Pohang. A strong start, but the sale (my opinion) of Lee Myeong-joo led to a slow and steady decline for the club, which in the end saw them miss out on Asian qualification. Along with Lee Myeong-joo, the other two names that shone for Pohang were attackers Kim Seung-dae and Kang Su-il. Unfortunately for the Steelers, those two were unable to really perform (and score) on a consistent basis for the club.

Looking ahead: Pohang will likely look to their strong youth system to try and find a replacement for Lee Myeong-joo. The team really lacked a creative player in the center of the pitch after Lee left, so that’s the priority. Pohang could benefit as they won’t compete in Asia while their rivals will, possibly giving them a chance to jump up the table.

Pohang’s Season by the Numbers
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Pohang’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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In the next post we’ll look at the middle clubs, 5-8, Jeju United, Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonnam Dragons, and Busan IPark.

About Jae Chee 310 Articles
A football fan with who got bit by the writing bug.

3 Comments

  1. Word. Thanks for taking this on, Jae and giving a recap of the K League Classic teams. It definitely helps to see where they’ve been and what they need to do to perform effectively going forward.

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