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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).