November 2, 2012
This will be a bit short as I’m still juggling an infant and arranging my cell phone repairs. Modern life…eh.
Before we hit the previews: last night Lee Young-Pyo and Vancouver had a one goal lead through most of their knockout Western Conference playoff against LA Galaxy, but a Mike Magee goal in the 69th and a converted PK from Landon Donovan 4 minutes later put the lights out on Vancouver’s first foray in the MLS playoffs. Lee played a solid game, but the team just could not find the equalizer to keep the game going (replays showed a late game foul against a Whitecaps player in LA’s penalty area. The refs didn’t see it that way and the PK was not awarded). The South Korean journeyman now has time to contemplate staying one more year or hanging up his boots.
[all times are listed in Eastern Standard Time, TV listing in the US; online listings should work internationally]
Germany, Hannover 96 vs. Augsburg 9:30 am No Tv/ Online? Koo Ja-Cheol is set to return soon for Augsburg. He was out early in the season with an ankle tendon injury. Not certain if he will be in the lineup for this match.
England, Swansea City vs. Chelsea 11 a.m. Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes Ki Sung-Yeung was bossing the midfield in Wednesday’s impressive Cup victory over Liverpool at Anfield. But if last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Manchester City was a first test against the top teams of the EPL, we are about to witness an even greater test against the current league leader. Chelsea (with some hiccups here and there) have been in spectacular form. On the wings of Wednesday’s morale booster, perhaps Swansea’s offense have found their breakthrough rhythm to deliver a real shocker on Saturday? On a side note, the Sun revealed that Ki has quite a boisterous and personality filled apartment as he shares a space with not one but 5 other roommates: Danny Graham, Wayne Routledge, Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores, Jonathan de Guzman. Please let there NOT be a reality tv show about this…
Spain, Barcelona vs. Celta de Vigo 1 p.m. beIN Sport, beIN Sport Spanish This is what we at the Tavern fantasize about: Park Chu-Young, 90,000+ at Camp Nou, scoring a decisive goal that sends shockwaves around the world. Will that happen on Saturday? His chances may come, but possibly with less than the optimal 90 minutes to do it. He’s not looking likely as a starter due to a mixed performance in an embarrassing 2-0 Spanish Cup loss to a second tiered team on Wednesday. Paco Herrera will instead go initially with Iago Aspas and Mario Bermejo up front. The real story may instead focus on the backline; with Samuel Llorca injured and Cabral serving his red card ban, Herrera will be nearly out of options at centerback. And just in time too for Messi and company to play hosts. Their offense has been the only reason Barca has stayed on top of the La Liga tables this year. Barca’s kryptonite is their very leaky defense, but their strategy to compensate has simply been to get more goals than Imelda Marco has shoes in her closet. Bottom line: Park may see the pitch in the second half, but will have to be dynamic to make impact and possibly make history.
England, Sunderland vs. Aston Villa 11 a.m. foxsoccer2go.com (tape at 3 on Fox Soccer Plus) If Martin O’Neil was properly thinking this through, he must know that having only 1 person score all Sunderland’s goals would be a problem as it lessens their offensive options. But that’s exactly what’s happening with the Blackcats, with Steven Fletcher scoring all 5 of their goals. By contrast, Swansea scored their first 5 goals in just their first match of the season. In this backdrop, Ji Dong-Won, who was an impact player with the Olympic South Korean bronze medal team, has yet to appear on the pitch this season. Will Martin O’ Neil win an Oscar for his role as George W. Bush, staying the course in the midst of a rapidly deteriorating quagmire?
England, Bolton vs. Cardiff City 1:20 pm No Tv/ Online? Now this could most likely be the first Korean derby of the season, Lee Chung-Yong and Bolton vs Kim Bo-Kyung and Cardiff. Both were busy last week with starts for their respective teams and delivering class performances to boot. Lee scored his first goal of the season and becomes the first Korean to score on English soil this year. Kim had some good chances in his game last week, but was key to developing goals that gave the team a win, and with it, elevation to first place in the English Championship table. As in any Korean derby, the Tavern is hoping for a draw, with braces from each player. While I’m at it, I’m also hoping for some new siding for the Tavern, sparkling new solar panels, with a wind generator on top, and perhaps a solar heated hot tub out back…
Germany, Hamburg vs. Bayern Munich 1:30 p.m. GolTV As if Park Chu-Young’s Camp Nou visit isn’t getting your heart racing enough, Son Heung-Min gets an opportunity at home in Hamburg to get his 6th goal of the year against Bayern Munich. Hamburg is entering the match 7th in the Bundesliga table, while top dog Bayern Munich has been nearly unstoppable, winning 8 games with only 1 loss thus far. With the way Son, Van der Vaart and the rest of Hamburg SV has been faring, their fans are entertaining ideas of playing Europe next season, this according to John Duerden writing for ESPN FC about Son’s exploits. Duerden goes on to observe the irony; as Son torches the scoreline for Hamburg, he increases the chance that Hamburg will not be able to hold on to him much longer, with bigger clubs across Europe eager for his talents.
Switzerland, FC Basel vs Young Boys 2:45pm No Tv Left back Park Joo-Ho may get minutes, and then again, with a new manager in charge, he may not.
Netherlands, Groningen vs Nijmegen 6:30 am No Tv Suk Hyun-Jun has been getting a few minutes in the most recent matches for Groningen, but not much else has happened since coming back from a long red card suspension for allegedly striking another player in early October.
England, QPR vs. Reading 8:30 a.m. Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes Park Ji-Sung is doubtful for this match, possibly still recovering from an knee injury in their tangle with Everton.
Germany, Bayer Leverkusen vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf 9:30 a.m. GolTV Cha Du-Ri‘s experimentation as a forward and midfielder may be over. If he plays, he is expected to return to his role as a right back for Dusseldorf.
The podcast originally scheduled for today was not edited in time to make this post. It was going to focus on Kim Bo-Kyung and Cardiff, but between Hurricane Sandy, a new baby born last week, and my cell phone needing hospitalization, the Tavern time keeper is giving me a pass. I will do my best to get it out next week, but the Tavern’s ethical director is telling me my family takes priority at the moment. Good advice. However, I can’t leave you good people without sharing something totally unrelated to football I heard this morning on NPR. You may have already heard about this, but in case you haven’t: there’s an elephant in Korea who’s been taught to vocalize human speech. Independent scientists ventured over to confirm this phenomenon, and indeed, this elephant has learned to speak 5 words in Korean. The remarkable thing is the elephant has somehow learned to maneuver his trunk and mouth to form the different Korean words. You can read and hear the original broadcast of the story here. Here’s an AFP youtube video of the elephant.