History in the making, X2. It’s difficult to hold back the US Women’s Team -a powerful enough squad to create their own force of gravity, but out from under the radar came the Lady Taeguk Warriors who stymied the US from creating any rhythm on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. In doing so they accomplished quite the feat -holding the US scoreless at their own home turf for the first time since November 5th 2008. And just who was that opponent that last shut down the might giants of women’s football? None other than South Korea. Both games ended as 0-0 draws.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that Korea’s women’s program is very much a work in progress and it would be a stretch to say they are a footballing powerhouse. That said, Ji So-Yun (voted England professional Player of the Year last month for her work at Chelsea Ladies) and company surprised many in front of a packed sold out stadium 26,000 strong, a nationally televised audience and stunned managers at team USA who may have expected a nice morale boosting send off to the World Cup next week.
In case you missed it – the entire match is available for replay at ESPN3.com in the US.
Some takeaways from the match:
- Korea looked well organized. Credit manager Yoon Deok-Yeo, a veteran of the Taeguk Warriors World Cup squad of 1990 (which happened to be the year the Women’s national team was inaugurated). However, while organized, the frequency of turnovers by the team as the match progressed stymied their effectiveness in the final third. Better teamwork may have masked over some individual performances.
- Credit to Ji So-Yun, who commanded the troops directly on the pitch. She was the conductor and did fairly well with the job but perhaps asked to do too much with striker Yeo Min-Ji out injured last week. They were missing Yeo’s presence up front, which may have added pressure on Ji to take on the striking duties as well.
- First half set the tone for the match in which Korea’s ball possession and organization in utilizing space efficiently helped take the US out of their game.
- Korea struggled with being outmuscled by the US. Perhaps Park Eun-Sun needed to come onto the pitch earlier (she subbed in the 85th minute).
- The US committed a large number of fouls – but remarkably Korea committed only 1 foul – and that was as late as the 75th minute.
- Korea’s defense looked shakiest in passing out from the back. Some cringe-worthy moments with misspasses led to near catastrophe turnovers deep in the back. One of the veterans of the KWNT’s only other World Cup in 2003, keeper Kim Jung-mi kept calm and proved her mettle – dealing with a number of saves to boast a clean sheet.
- Scariest moments weren’t any of the shots on target by the Americans, but on field injuries – first to midfielder Park Hee-Young who left in the 17th minute for a dislocated shoulder. Even scarier: after halftime, Ji So-Yun was left writhing in agony after getting clipped in the heel by a US player. A few tense minutes for Team Korea, Ji had to leave the pitch, but after getting examined, she limped back into the game. If Ji had gotten a worse injury – it would’ve been game over for Korea’s World Cup.
- If Korea stalled the US from scoring – the US were effectively able to contain Korea offense in efficient measure, with the Lady Taeguk Warriors only launching 7 shots. Korea, with Ji So-Yun directing, were able to engineer some danger up front that looked promising. But the US defense were able to extinguish those threats before Korea could effectively pull the trigger. Again, Yeo Min-Ji injured in training last week and out of the World Cup showed what a blow this has been for their offense.
- One particular bright moment: substitute Lee Geum-Min – who was doing her best Son Heung-min impersonation – let loose a rocket of a shot from 20 yards out that forced Hope Solo to desperately lunge to her left. She just got a hand on the ball to keep the ball from going into the net deep in stoppage time. Let’s hope Lee has some more of that in the World Cup.
- Can Park Eun-Sun be the difference maker in the World Cup this June? We only saw 5 minutes of her late in the game but the forward, who plays for Russian club WFC Rossiyanka, has been a proven goal scorer for club and country. Like keeper Kim Jung-Mi, both are veterans of Korea’s only other World Cup appearance in ’03.
- For manager Yoon Deok-Yeo – scheduling this friendly / final tune up with an elite power in Women’s football before the World Cup begins was pretty ballsy. There was always the chance that this could have been a blowout/demoralizing 5-0 loss, (the score the last time the teams met in 2013). Instead, it ended up as an encouraging result, not perfect, but not bad vs the 2nd ranked team in the world. There’s a lot to learn and build from the tune up as Korea gets ready for their first group match against Brazil.
Here’s the shot that almost won Korea the game:
We’re reposting info about South Korea’s group matches for the Women’s World Cup but here’s the TV schedule in the US:
Tues June 9 7:00 PM EST Brazil vs Korea @ Montreal FOX Sports 1
Sat June 13 7:00 PM EST Korea vs Costa Rica @Montreal FOX Sports2
Wed June 17 7:00 PM EST Korea Republic vs Spain @Ottawa FOX Sports 2
The Tavern is getting ready for kalbi on the grill and soju on tap. Game on. The Tavern will have more coverage in the next few days. By my own admission as the Tavern Owner, we have not given enough coverage for the women’s game. That should and must be amended and I’m proud to announce that in anticipation of the Women’s World Cup – for the first time ever, the Tavern will have the likes of Ji So-Yun on the website’s masthead. Look for other women to represent Korean football at the highest level on the Tavern’s masthead in the coming days. Women rock and we don’t mind saying so.
But we don’t want to forget about the namja’s : today Uli Stielike announced the 23 man roster for Korea’s first 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Myanmar June 16 [8am US EST/ 7pm Korea Time]. Thursday June 11th they’ve scheduled a tune up friendly against UAE [5am US EST / 6pm Korea Time]. A number of euro based players like Kim Bo-Kyung and Koo Ja-Cheol will not be available due to summer military obligations. In addition, do expect an experimental lineup given the opposition for the WCQ.
|Position||No||Name||Date of Birth||Cm/Kg||Club||Caps/Goals|
|GK||–||KIM Seunggyu||1990.09.30||18780||Ulsan||10 / -11|
|GK||–||KIM Jinhyeon||1987.07.06||193/78||Cerezo Osaka||11 / -8|
|GK||–||JUNG Sungryong||1985.01.04||190/86||Suwon||64 / -64|
|DF||–||LIM Chaimin||1990.11.18||185/75||Seongnam||1 / 0|
|DF||–||KIM Changsoo||1985.09.12||179/72||Kashiwa Reysol||19 / 0|
|DF||–||HONG Jeongho||1989.08.12||186/77||Augsburg||29 / 1|
|DF||–||KIM Keehee||1989.07.13||187/80||Jeonbuk||9 / 0|
|DF||–||KWAK Taehwi||1981.07.08||185/80||Al Hilal||43 / 5|
|DF||–||KIM Jinsu||1992.06.13||177/67||Hoffenheim||16 / 0|
|DF||–||JEONG Dongho||1990.03.07||175/68||Ulsan||1 / 0|
|DF||–||LEE Juyong||1992.09.26||180/76||Jeonbuk||0 / 0|
|MF||–||LEE Jaesung||1992.08.10||180/70||Jeonbuk||2 / 1|
|MF||–||LEE Chungyong||1988.07.02||180/69||Crystal Palace||65 / 6|
|MF||–||JANG Hyunsoo||1991.09.28||187/77||Guangzhou Fuli||14 / 0|
|MF||–||SON Heungmin||1992.07.08||183/78||Leverkusen||42 / 10|
|MF||–||HAN Kookyoung||1990.04.19||183/73||Qatar SC||26 / 0|
|MF||–||NAM Taehee||1991.07.03||175/73||Lekhwiya SC||23 / 2|
|MF||–||JUNG Wooyoung||1989.12.14||186/78||Vissel Kobe||0 / 0|
|MF||–||CHOE Bogyeong||1988.04.12||184/79||Jeonbuk||0 / 0|
|MF||–||YEOM Kihun||1983.03.30||182/78||Suwon||49 / 3|
|MF||–||KANG Sooil||1987.07.15||184/74||Jeju||0 / 0|
|FW||–||LEE Yongjae||1991.06.08||180/78||V-Varen Nagasaki||0 / 0|
|FW||–||LEE Jeonghyeop||1991.06.24||186/76||Sangju||9 / 3|
Some takeaways – Kang Su-Il has been given the green light and called up. If he plays in either of the 2 matches in June, he will be only the 2nd mixed race Korean to represent the Taeguk Warriors. I have a few more thoughts but there’ll be plenty of time to deconstruct the call ups.