December 14, 2012
Just a quick moment to reflect on the scope of the tragedy in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut today. The AP has so far 27 people including 20 kids killed in one of the worst mass shootings in US history. I’ve got kids of my own and right now I feel as if my heart has sunk below the floorboards. Human beings, they inspire me and let me down, all in one breath. To all the kids, teachers and administrators who lost their lives today, you will not be forgotten.
Roller coaster ride for all you South Korean soccer aficionados this week as Park Chu-Young’s Celta Vigo faced their ‘goliath’ in Real Madrid and won, Ki Sung-Yeung provided that extra spark that gave Swansea’s their narrow Capital Cup victory, while Ulsan initially put up a good fight, but ultimately went down and out of the FIFA Club World Cup. So that’s how Asian Player of the Year winner Lee Keun-Ho is going to exit the limelight and quietly join the relegated Army/Sangju Sammu team? To quote the Matrix: it can’t end like this…not like this…
But let’s raise a glass for Lee Young-Pyo as the celebrated defensive journeyman will NOT hang up his boots but will instead return for (presumably) his last year playing football professionally. Vancouver’s 2012 Player of the Year was contemplating retirement at the end of the season when they lost in the MLS playoffs to eventual champions, the LA Galaxy. Lee is now 35 and will be 36 in April. The Whitecaps tried valiantly for several weeks, pleading for Lee not to retire but to have an adventure and one last go at it. Yesterday, success for boss Martin Rennie as Lee agreed to have his contract optioned for 2013. Looking over to the Province, they highlighted some rad numbers for the ageless Lee: In his first season in Vancouver, the South Korean legend finished fifth in MLS with a total of 2,970 minutes played. In total, Lee started and played the full 90 minutes in 33 out of a possible 34 regular season matches. Over the course of the season Lee recorded one goal and was third on the team with four assists. If you live in the US or Canada, look for Lee next year in an MLS stadium near you.
Before we get to the weekend games featuring prominent Taeguk Warriors in Europe, the Tavern is getting reports that Chunnam Dragon’s left back Yoon Suk-Young may be a AC Milan target during the January transfer window. He’s also been linked to Tottenham and QPR, but AC Milan seems to be the strongest contender for the highly rated South Korean defender, who was part of the storied Taeguk Warrior Olympic squad that won the Bronze medal. With that medal, he has exemption from serving in the South Korean military. Translation: he’s free to ply his trade in Europe. Skysports reported the AC Milan link earlier today.
One more update, this time about the South Korean national soccer team: it’s been (mostly) confirmed, a 2013 friendly match set in London against Croatia. The February 6th World Cup qualifying tune-up will be at Fulham’s Craven Cottage. Without a doubt, the Korean FA will be calling up many of the Taeguk Warriors playing in Europe. This actually solves a dilemma many Koreans playing in Europe face: tremendous uber jet lag when called up for national team duty when the matches are in the far east. That cross continental hop within the short allocated time may have contributed to Park Chu-Young temporarily losing his starting role at Celta Vigo earlier in the season.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m feeling it –there’s going to be goals scored by Koreans this weekend. Right, let’s get to it. All times are US Eastern Standard Time, listings are in the US, Internet should be available worldwide.
Germany, Grunther Furth vs Augsburg, 9:30 am No TV/ streaming? Koo Ja-Cheol and Augsburg showed moxie despite their 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich. They need to start winning to get out of the relegation zone, and what better way to start than with a fellow relegation zoner, Grunther Furth.
Germany, Leverkusen vs Hamburg, 9:30 am GOL TV. Son Heung-Min is looking for his lucky 7th goal of the season for Hamburg. Look out, some friendly competition as teammate Rudnevs has just caught up with Son as they now both co-lead the team in goals scored. He will be paired up with Rudnevs up front as the second striker on the right. Meanwhile, the In Bed with Maradona blog had a flattering write up on Son’s torrid progress in the Bundesliga.
Germany, Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Hannover 96, 9:30 am No TV/ streaming? Just when we thought Cha Du-Ri ‘s days as an experimental attacking midfielder/forward were over when he was subbed in as a defender 2 weeks ago, Dusseldorf surprised us with Cha’s midfield sub role last week. That led to the Tavern fake news announcement that Cha may come out as a goal keeper next. Seriously, what’s Cha’s role now? And is Chelsea’s new manager, Rafael Benitez, taking a play out of Norbert Meier’s tactical playbook? Wasn’t hard to notice that centerback David Luiz magically turned into a midfielder during the FIFA Club World Cup semi with Monterrey.
England, Cardiff City vs Peterborough, 10 am No TV/streaming? Awwww yeah – Kim Bo-Kyung time! He scored his first goal of the season last week against Blackburn and now there’s no holding him back! Why do I get the feeling there’s going to be some kick ass hip hop music about to thump in the background? Anyway, the Bluebirds is perched on top of the English Championship table, with 3 points clear of Crystal Palace. Already Cardiff fans are wondering how the Bluebirds are going to blow the lead, but the Tavern will refuse to give in to such Chicago Cubs-like thinking. Let’s see however if Cardiff can continue their amazing record setting home winning streak.
England, Bolton vs Charleton, 10 am No TV/streaming? Lee Chung-Yong may get the start for the Wanderers. There’s been some low level rumblings about the South Korean midfielder moving onward in the January transfer window, but nothing anyone can confirm. Bolton’s chances of finding promotion next year is starting to look daunting given their fall season form.
England, Swansea vs Tottenham, 8:30 am Fox Soccer TV. Ki Sung-Yeung was widely praised for his efforts to energize Swansea’s 2nd half Capital Cup victory over Middlesbrough on Wednesday. Short rest and turnaround as they now face Tottenham for a crucial battle for a possible 5th place spot in the Premier League table. Swansea is only 3 points behind Tottenham, but they aren’t likely to relinquish their position without a fight. By the way, ESPN FC blogger Dan Fitch highlighted Gareth Bale’s trip to the principal’s office, er rather meeting midweek with a Premier League referee official to discuss his alleged diving tactics. Such a good footballer, it just begs the question why he feels the need to dive and tarnish his image? Anyway, Swansea has to also keep an eye out for Clint Dempsey, who scored for the Spurs in their last game and may be their secret weapon for the Swans to contend with. He was just voted in as the best American footballer of the year in midweek, so Clint is hyper aware he’s got a scoring rep to upkeep. Multiple Spurs offensive threats may keep Ki busy further back of the midfielder, but don’t be surprised if Ki delivers a long distance strike right back at the Spurs.
Capital Cup Note: while this may not be the shiniest silverware in England, perceived ‘big’ clubs simply don’t like losing, especially to lower division clubs. But that’s exactly what happened last Tuesday with Arsenal’s humiliating loss to 4th tier Bradford City. For Swansea, that means they have a 1 in 3 chance of being the lucky team to draw with Bradford City for the Semifinal draw in the competition (the other survivors include Aston Villa and the winner of next week’s Chelsea vs Leeds United quarterfinals). Last year, Cardiff City narrowly lost to Liverpool – the same Liverpool who lost to Swansea earlier in the 4th round of Cup competition this year.
Spain, Celta Vigo vs Real Batis, 3:30 pm No TV/streaming? We’re hearing reports that Paco Herrera may keep the same winning lineup from their glorious victory match against Real Madrid. That means it’s Park Chu-Young back on the pitch – perhaps to score his 4th goal of the year for Celta.
NOTE: Ji Dong-Won will probably not be in the 18 man roster for Sunderland when they clash with Manchester United -we’re getting indications that next week an official announcement will be made regarding a proposed loan move to Augsburg to join Koo Ja-Cheol. Park Ji-Sung is reportedly injured again with knee problems and won’t feature in QPR’s match with Fulham. Suk Hyun-Jun has featured and scored in Gronigen’s recent reserve matches, but hasn’t been in the full 18 man roster for Gronigen in over a month.
I’m still feeling dreadful about the events of the day. Not that music solves all problems, but I do think there’s something tangible about the ability of music to heal. Here’s one of my favorite indie rock bands, Dirty Projectors (based in Brooklyn, NY) with a new video just out today. All the best, hug your kids if you got ’em, and for those in the US, let’s have the balls to start standing up to the NRA gun lobby…um, maybe after watching this weekend’s games.