Sept 2, 2012
English Premier League
Ki Sung Yeung got his first Premier League start, though it was under dire circumstances for the home side as Swansea was down to 10 men following a controversial red card [Chico sent off for clipping Sunderland’s Louis Saha’s ear -replays showing that Chico was very close with his boots but did not make actual contact]. The only misfire Ki made was not being to find his jersey right away once he was given the green light to make his EPL debut. Soon as the whereabouts of said jersey was discovered, he came in the 77th minute for Michu (who added his 4th goal of the season earlier) and immediately helped switch on a huge magnet to which they reversed polarity with Sunderland; all of a sudden it was Sunderland looking the team down to 10 men -struggling to come up with a solution to a Swansea side moving the ball with confidence instead of fear and largely owning the Sunderland side of the field. Topping that off, Swansea had several good opportunities to get the go ahead goal to win the game. Ki was given advice by Ladrup presumably to play a defensive midfield role of chasing and pressuring Sunderland’s possession. Ki did that right away, challenging Sessegnon and cleaning the ball away from him. It was Swansea’s game from that point, Ki being the point man for getting the ball methodically forward, smartly distributing the ball to teammates, quickly (and almost effortlessly) getting into open space, and continuing to find ways to push the ball deeper into Sunderland territory. They looked dangerous, with a handful of great opportunities to find the back of the Sunderland net. Despite the 2-2 draw at the end of regulation, Swansea undoubtedly won a victory of sorts. At the least, it proved to be a very entertaining game. Ki not only impressed the TV commentators with his debut performance, the fans and most importantly his coach were about their newest signing.
“Ki has just been here for a week, he played 70 min in the [Carling] cup game on Tuesday, and came on today and made a difference in a very difficult moment -because we just played with 10 [men]. He kept the ball –it was very important, so you can already see that he will be an important player for us.”
-Swansea Manager Michael Ladrup speaking to the BBC on Saturday Sept 1.
Here’s a sweet stat about Ki’s debut performance. In about 16 minutes of game time, he made 18 passes. He was spot on 100% accurate.
Here’s a composite of his performance on saturday:
Ji Dong Won also was at the game, but did not make his first start for Sunderland. The Korean forward [who scored a vital goal against Great Britain in last month’s Olympic soccer quarterfinals] was part of the 18 man squad for the game. Sunderland summer transfer player Steven Fletcher and Louis Saha both played in the forward position that game, with Steven scoring a brace for the Black Cats. In the 67th minute, Martin O’Neil subbed out Fletcher and in came Saha. Saha didn’t score and largely didn’t make much of an impact, save for some possible acting that convinced the refs to red card Chico. The question that will have to be answered as the season goes on is where Ji’s place on Martin O’Neil’s team will be if they are top heavy with forwards.
Park Ji Sung captained Queens Park Rangers and the struggling London side predictably lost to Manchester City by a score of 3-1. QPR did have it’s moments, Zamorra in particular leveling it in the 59th minute, but could not find any defensive help with the likes of Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and Tevez all scoring for City. Park looked sharp, but one man simply can not a league winner make. [I did watch it in earnest after the kid/ aka the monster, went to bed – while Man City deserved the win, the game was actually much closer than the score would suggest. The game was 2-1 in the closing minutes of extra injury time and Park was wide open on the right side – but his teammates couldn’t thread him the ball. In the counter attack moments later, Tevez nailed the door shut].
Koo Ja Cheol and Son Heung Min both started for their respective clubs, but both FC Augsburg and SV Hamburg lost on Saturday. Some worrying trends are emerging here.
- I didn’t get to see Shalke 04 v FC Augsburg, but reports indicate that Koo [who captained the bronze medal winning South Korean soccer Olympic team] was pretty dynamic, getting in a shot at goal -but then had a nasty collision with another player at the 5 minute mark. Turns out it was an ankle injury that delayed the match. He eventually returned, but wasn’t the same. He may have been hampered by the knock on his ankles, but I don’t have a confirmation about that at the moment. He was subbed out at the 58th minute in a 3-1 loss. Update: according the Korean media, Koo suffered damage to his tendon in his right ankle. He will be unable to play the Korean National team in their World Cup Qualifier against Uzbekistan on Sept 11. http://bit.ly/N9zK1T [Tavern thanks to 12th Warrior on the BigSoccer Koreans Playing Abroad forum for that info and link].
- Son Heung Min played 70 minutes in a 2-0 Hamburg loss to Weder Bremen. I didn’t get to see nor have I heard any reports on Son’s performance.
- Both teams are winless so far this season and they are back to where they left off at the end of last season, struggling in or near the relegation zone.
- While Hamburg had a bit of good news last friday with the re-aquisition of Rafael van der Vaart [who could provide more midfield help], Augsburg is still in a bit of a management vacuum after coach Jos Luhukay resigned despite the previous year’s successful 1st year in top flight German football. Their new manager, Markus Weinzierl, is pretty green. He’s leading a team in the big leagues for the very first time (he coached a 3.Liga team to promotion to 2.Bundesliga). Koo is on a 1 year loan from Wolfburg. He is still the man to keep an eye on in Augsburg due to his impressive display from the end of last season (an initial 6 month loan from Wolfsburg) that helped Augsburg avoid relegation. Will either of these two teams be able to sync up in time before the season is too late?
And I don’t want to forget some other Koreans who played or appeared this weekend:
Park Joo Ho / Defender for FC Basel in Switzerland: played 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Zurich
Lee Chung Young/Midfielder for Bolton /English Championship: Full 90 minutes in a 3-1 loss to Hull City. Wasn’t able to get tv coverage for the game, not getting reports on Lee’s performance, but certainly the team’s standing and definitely the back line is taking a beating. Is it time to panic yet for Bolton?
Kim Bo Kyung / Midfielder for Cardiff of English Championship: 18 man roster in a match against Wolverhampton. First game in uniform, but did not make his debut on the pitch, Cardiff won 3-1.
Suk Hyun Jun/ Forward for FC Gronigen in Erdivisie: played 13 minutes, subbing in a 1-0 victory against ADO Den Haag.
and last but not least, forward Park Chu Young who arrived on loan to Celto Viga on friday, was in the stands the next day to witness their first victory in their newly promoted La Liga season, beating Osasuna 2-0 at home.
The 2 week international break starts now. Next time we’ll see any one of these gentlemen will be in Uzbekistan in the uniform of the South Korean national team. The Taeguk Warriors will play the World Cup Qualifier on September 11, with the tentative start time listed as 9 am EST / 10 pm in Seoul (Sept 12th).