Some Post-US Tour Thoughts

Just a few thoughts having watched all three matches from Korea’s US tour.

Nothing new learned
While the tour was billed as a chance for Korea’s fringe players to make a statement, really nothing new came out of the tour. There was no new revelation to emerge. If anything, more questions than answers came. The defense is still shaky at times, the midfield looked stodgy, the attack toothless.

Goalkeeper
Jung Sung-Ryong or Kim Seung-Gyu? That question persists after a so-so showing from Kim Seung-Gyu against Mexico. While he couldn’t do much about goals 1, 3, and 4, goal 2 was certainly a mistake on his part as he came too far out and then failed to get back in time. Similarly, Jung Sung-Ryong couldn’t do much about either US goals (although maybe could have pushed the ball away further on the first one). Hong’s decision will likely come down to a choice of experience, Jung, or potential, Kim. While Real Madrid may be successfully pulling off a goalkeeper rotation with Casillas and Diego Lopez, I doubt Jung and Kim could do it, and Hong will likely look to have a firm number 1 in mind for the Greece friendly.

Fullback
Questions have also popped up about the fullbacks again. Lee Yong and Kim Jin-Su looked to have put those questions to bed a couple months ago, but a lackluster tour from both, and a particularly bad showing from Kim Jin-Su against the US will likely have raised them again. Park Joo-Ho should get a shout against Greece (I’m hoping) as he’s done well with Mainz. There is less competition for Lee Yong on the right, but Kim Chang-Soo may get another shot (unlikely).

Centerback
Without the names on the shirts, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Korea’s defense pre-Hong Myeong-Bo. None of the three who started, Kim Ki-Hee, Kang Min-Soo, and Kim Ju-Young, were particularly impressive, and certainly none offered anything to suggest they could unseat Hong Jeong-Ho or Kim Young-Gwon. Of the three, Kim Ki-Hee seems the most likely to get the fourth CB spot, with the injured Hwang Seok-Ho likely to take the third.

Center Midfield

An audition for Park Jong-Woo and Lee Myeong-Joo to make their case to partner Ki Sung-Yueng in midfield ahead of Han Kook-Young. Neither succeeded. Park Jong-Woo offers enough to warrant inclusion as a backup, but not more than that. His passing isn’t good enough to push him ahead on an offensive basis, and his over-aggressiveness makes him a liability defensively. He’s always good for one booking (usually early) a game, and that will be a worry. I suspect that Lee Myeong-Joo won’t make the cut, and that if he recovers and does well in China, Ha Dae-Sung could make it due to more experience.

Wide Midfield

What a mess. Go Yo-Han, Kim Min-Woo, Lee Seung-Gi none really made an impression, which may be okay since our two starting wide players, Son Heung-Min and Lee Chung-Yong are our two best players. But an injury (knock on wood) to one would be devastating as there is no one to step in really (Kim Bo-Kyung or Ji Dong-Won could try though). There has been some talk of Nam Tae-Hee coming in, as he’s been in good form for Lekhwiya, but he doesn’t seem like a Hong player to me. Yoon Il-Rok, after a good EAFF Cup showing, has faded as well.

Forward
The transfer news of Park Chu-Young to Watford will certainly boost the mood for fans, particularly as both Kim Shin-Wook and Lee Keun-Ho failed to impress. Lee Keun-Ho is a good player, but it’d be foolish to rely on him for goals. Lee is a midfielder who has been moved more centrally, along the lines of Kim Bo-Kyung (Lee is just more direct than Kim), but he is not a striker. Kim Shin-Wook still doesn’t seem to offer enough to warrant a sure start up top. If he can further develop his “ground game” than he could be a very good striker, but as of now he offers little other than knocking down long balls.

Coach
Is Hong capable of more than what he’s shown so far? The answer seems to be increasingly ‘no’. Hong has done well to organize the team better than what was shown under Choi Kang-Hee, but his failures to rectify the attack and midfield are concerning. Hong seems intent on forcing players into his formation rather than adjusting his formation to his players. Hong also seems slow to adjust to in game changes, and really getting his team to up or down the tempo as needed.

The Future
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t think much changes from before the tour, despite an unconvincing win and two demoralizing losses. Most of these players won’t feature, god willing, at Brazil anyway. Hopefully though, Hong will learn from the mistakes made in all three matches (which will be discussed in a post later this week).

About Jae Chee 313 Articles

A football fan with who got bit by the writing bug.

22 Comments

  1. Im not sure how any coach in the world could rectify this talent pool. Golden era?

    You have to be joking. On the topic of the goalies however, Id have to pick the leas worst and in this case that would be Jung. He just seems more comfortable between the sticks. Thats pretty much the most defining positive in this case.

    • I don’t expect Hong to turn them into world beaters, but I would expect him to be able to shape them into something that resembles a team. The group that went out today looked like 11 random players who were just sent out there and told to do their best, and for the final match of a month long camp, it was sad to say the least. We can complain about the players all we want, but it’s up to the coach to put them in the best position to succeed, and I don’t see Hong doing that. Now, if this is all a glorified audition process and Hong is ignoring the team play and results and just looking at individual performances then that’s a different story.

  2. While watching these games, one thought came to my mind. Remember the last time the KNT came to US? It was right before World Cup 2002 when our boys played the Gold Cup under Hiddink. We got killed in that tournament and everyone criticized the coach and players. We all know what happened after that. Let’s not get all worked up from watching nobodys and benchwarmers play. If these games proved anything, it’s that we seriously lack depth.

  3. A lot of us underestimated the USMNT fans. Many of the Korean-American fans in LA thought this would be like a Korea home-game given the proximity to Koreatown.

    I arrived at the game an hour and a half early hoping that I might bump into some big names. Didn’t really happen. Sitting in the then empty rows, I was nervous that there wasn’t enough of a Korean presence. I was right to have worried as a stream of American flags rushed into the stadium with a lot of energy.

    I was sorely disappointed at the very uninspired Korea turn out. Kind of like the game itself. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have any particular star headlining.

    Any and all attempts at Korean cheers were promptly shut down by strong, decisive USA chants from Americans from all angles. Props to where props are due. The USA truly ain’t nothin to fuck with.

    The crowd dynamics almost serve as a metaphor for the game itself.

    There were a number of times where Korean players were either A) standing idly around or B) surprised by a pass their way and scrambling not to lose possession. I had to wonder where their focus was. Like the Korean fans, the players seemed disconnected, disjointed, and disinterested.

    Our lack of subs and effectively limited rotations in the line-up was a little confusing.

    As an American, it makes me very happy to see the energy and passion for American soccer. As a Korean, this game was disappointing but, like you, not a complete deal breaker.

    Sorry if it got a bit long. Being the first game I’ve seen in person for Korea in a decade, I’ve had a lot on my mind. Still a lot on my mind really.

    Anyone else at the game here? How was the experience for you guys, out of curiosity? The Calbi truck was good at least lol.

    • Lalas? It didn’t seem like he was being a douchebag. He just stated what he did and he said it without condescension or judgment. However, I’m inferring from your comment that you are upset it was brought up at all. If that’s the case, I can empathize with that sentiment. Especially since Korean Americans are the ones that have to deal with that crap as questions. So I don’t think he’s a douchebag, but it is an example of White privilege for sure.

      • Oh Im not that upset about it. Lalas is a douche to me on principle alone, but I do find it funny and completely Lalas to choose this time to bring up a stigma that he really has no idea about. I think he was poking fun in a tongue and cheek way but totally misrepresents and furthers the stigma in the process. Im sure he’s well aware.

  4. I think everyone needs to also remember, though, that these guys played 3 matches in 1 week basically, and they played a more talented and fresh Mexico and likewise a more talented and fresh USA in the 2nd and 3rd matches. Yes, Korea’s depth is terrible, as I’ve stated all along, but we should cut a little slack on the last game, because I think some of the lackluster play can be attributed (at least partly) to being out of gas for some of the players and not just purely for lack of class.

    At the risk of sounding douchey, what this tour mostly did for me personally is confirm that I was right about what I”ve been saying all along. Lol (please forgive me =P). Korea lacks depth; K-League needs to improve quality and have fallen behind the MLS; there are no strikers/forwards remotely able to unseat players who haven’t even played much in 2 years (PJY) or 1 year (JDW); Korea’s defense has not been good quality talent-wise since 2002 (yes, I’d go back that far); LKH is frustratingly talented enough to get chances, but literally can’t give you a goal if you handed it to him. I totally agree with Jae’s assessment of LKH. In fact, I still remember when I first watched him play, I found out after the match that he was listed as a FW, but throughout the match I had assumed he was a CAM. I wouldn’t mind taking him, but not at the expense of some other players.

    There is one thing that I did take away that was somewhat positive. While KSW wasn’t particularly (or remotely) great, he did impress me (just) a smidge. Let me preface my comment by saying that I’m a Liverpool fan, but I HATED Peter Crouch. HATED! He made me angry just looking at him for some reason. I couldn’t stand that guy and his game. However, he did have usefulness situationally. KSW is a less annoying and (unfortunately) less skilled version of Crouch. However, he’s done enough for me to show that he deserves to be a backup. He at least has a knack for getting the ball on goal as well as giving shorter defenders a hard time on set pieces or crosses. I will look forward to the Greece game. Are final selections after that match or before and when is it?

    • Final selections are well after the Greece game (I think sometime in late May). I always thought that KSW was a kind of reverse Peter Crouch. Crouch, despite being tall, never seemed great in the air, but was pretty good with his feet. KWS on the other hand is good in the air, but kind of clumsy with his feet.

      The problem, one of them, with the K League is that teams rely on foreign players are strikers. Eight players scored 10 or more goals, and only three were Koreans. Kim Shin-Wook, Kim Dong-Seob (EAFF flop), and Lee Dong-Gook. I haven’t checked the numbers, but I would guess that a significant majority of teams use their foreign quota on foreign strikers.

      • Good point Jae. I agree with you on the reverse comment. It was more me hating on lanky players with limited skills. Also, your point about strikers in the K-League is a good one as well. The K-League definitely needs to develop their youth teams and especially strikers. They are the hardest quality to find of all the positions. It’s too bad KSW wasn’t developed much earlier in life. He might have developed much further along by now.

  5. Your point on Hong shoe-horning guys into his formation instead of adjusting to talent is a great point. I was at the stub hub center yesterday and was completely unimpressed with what I saw. Granted 90% of the guys I saw aren’t making it to Brazil, but I at least thought, with the 4-0 drubbing by El tri, the we would try and come out dropping bombs on Nick rimando like like Bush on Baghdad. All I saw were a bunch of weak ass long balls and poor wing play that all went for naught.

    I hope coach Hong sees that the talent on his first team is perfectly built for a technical, touch and go, 4-3-3. Imagine a front 3 of Son on LW, CY Park at St and CY Lee on the RW, with Ki distributing at the CM (maybe even pulling back Lee Keun Ho to be more a playmaker along side Ki?) That’s a bunch of offensive talent that knows how to attack.

    With Hong and YG Kim shoreing up the Center D, I don’t see how we can’t get out of the group in June with this group scoring goals and running teams ragged.

    • I was thinking about a 4-3-3, but it would likely require sacrificing Koo Ja-Cheol/Kim Bo-Kyung as they would both turn it into a 4-2-3-1. I think a 4-3-3 would be good as a counterattacking formation for Korea with Ki Sung-Yueng, Han Kook-Young, and one of Park JW/Ha DS/Lee MJ as the third CM (or maybe even Park Joo-Ho). As you said, Son Heung-Min, Park Chu-Young, and Lee Chung-Yong would be the attacking trident.

      • That’s a great point, but I think if we did a 4-3-3 with Koo/Bo playing as a CAM behind the striker with Ki and another CM holding on either side we could really bring a ton on quality and technical, offensive ability that would give us a chance against Belgium and Russia.

        I don’t see a defensive, long ball mind set working for us in the world cup.

  6. I was at the game. My impression is that the players for Korea on the “pitch” didn’t know how to play soccer. They almost seem like they were taught a few moves and they’re just repeating those moves or plays. There was a lot of “stupid” passing. KSW is good at using his head to pass to other team mates or creates chances but other than that he reminds me of an over weight and tall elementary school kid who’s running all over the playground trying hard and giving it his all but just falling short.

  7. The players also seemed rushed or nervous. We need to emphasize skill more than the whole “fighting” thing.

    • I suspect this is due to a lack of technical ability. Players aren’t comfortable with the ball at their feet, so with the US pressing in midfield they just hoofed it long.

      • yup. as for Hong and his coaching, you really can’t decipher much from this game and you can’t blame him for not “adjusting.” his goal wasn’t to win the game, it was to see who fits into his system and can make plays. he found out that most don’t or don’t have the technical ability to do so. his style works with first team talent, but not the b/c squad talent.

      • there you said it. I would love to cast blame in Hong’s direction at this point but this was the most glaring issue to me. not sure how you’re supposed to get the most of players who can barely handle the ball. chicken and the egg quandary to me.

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