November 30, 2012
It’s December eve and as cold descends upon Europe, the icy chill serves a metaphor for no love lost between certain clubs getting ready to battle on the pitch. Fans of South Korean international Park Chu-Young have not forgotten about his icy treatment throughout his year in Arsenal hell last season. Consider it a proxy war then between Korean football fans and Arsene Wenger -and Ki Sung-Yeung has emerged unwittingly as potential revenge -best served on the pitch. And this midfielder is hungry for his first goal in the Premiership. For Ki and in form Swansea brings their Spanish style swagger into Emirates Stadium to kick some ‘Arse’ on Saturday. Here’s the starting XI (courtesy of the Guardian):
England, Arsenal vs. Swansea City 10 a.m. EST Fox Soccer Plus, foxsoccer2go.com
England, QPR vs. Aston Villa 10 a.m. EST foxsoccer2go.com (tape at 4:30 on Fox Soccer) Park Ji-Sung made his official return to QPR earlier this week, subbing in the 2nd half in a scoreless draw with Sunderland. Will he start against Villa? Will he retain the captain’s armband? All will be answered on Saturday.
Germany, Augsburg vs Freiburg 9:30 am EST I didn’t want to forget about Koo Ja-Cheol. His struggling Augsburg side is dead last in the Bundesliga -and yet they are showing signs that they could stir things up and at least get out of the relegation zone. Koo meanwhile has had 2 goals since returning from a long term ankle injury, including a killer goal this past Wednesday [See Wednesday’s post for the visual].
England, Bolton vs Ipswich Town 10 am EST Lee Chung-Yong now has 3 goals, his last was a game winner this past Wednesday for Bolton. They are starting to get on a roll, but have a ways to go to get into promotion range. The Blue Dragon should get the start.
Switzerland, FC Basel vs St Gallen 1:45 pm EST Park Joo-Ho has not seen action for Basel in several games now.
——– let’s back track to Friday for a moment, Cha Du-Ri made a substitute appearance in the 74th minute for Leon Balogun in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 4-0 whomp over Eintracht Frankfurt. The substitution was significant in that Balogun’s position is as a defender. Cha has been experimentally placed this season as a forward, and in other games as either a wing or an attacking midfielder. With the substitution, Cha appears, for now, to be back in the defensive role he took when he was with Celtic for a few seasons.
England, Cardiff vs Sheffield Wednesday 10 am Kim Bo-Kyung has been getting the nod and has been part of Cardiff’s starting XI for several games now. Safe to say, Kimbo’s a regular now -and he is bound to score his first goal on English soil – rather Wales soil – sorry! (where are my geography manners?)
England, Norwich vs. Sunderland 10:30 a.m. Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes
The Tavern has officially given up on Sunderland. Martin O’Neil’s seems to be an Arsene Wenger -in that he doesn’t give a Korean a chance- and unlike Wenger in that he can’t manage at all. Meanwhile, Augsburg’s boss, in a conversation with the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitungthe, “This Ji Dong-Won is an interesting player for us. We have also been in touch with him, but we haven’t yet put up an offer for him.” That’s the latest on the possibility of a January transfer to Augsburg from Sunderland. It’s looking like an imminent deal, and we’ll try to stay on top of it.
Germany, Wolfsburg vs. Hamburg 12:30 p.m. GolTV Indications are Son Heung-Min will not get the start. He may still be out injured from a hamstring injury, suffered last week against Dusseldorf. If he recovers in time, expect to see Son on the bench with a possible 2nd half appearance.
Spain, Celta de Vigo vs. Levante 1 p.m. beIN Sport Spanish Park Chu-Young scored a pivotal goal for Celta in last Thursday’s Spanish Cup match, a total team effort in which they now will advance to meet Real Madrid in early December. Meanwhile, the Vigo club has a bit of aches and pains from playing 2 games in a short span of 4 days, and now only 2 days recovery time before Sunday’s clash with Levante. Park has been gradually getting on the scoreboard, currently with a total of 3 goals (2 in LaLiga action). SportalKorea correspondent and blogger, Santiago Perez seemed confident that Park will once again start for Celta: “The Korean striker looks more and more adjusted to the team, and nothing seems to stop the Korean ace from getting the starter spot he has been desiring for so long.” More analysis, visit his blog at Rainmaker18.com
Let’s go over to South Korea, and John Duerden tweeted this tidy bit of info on a possible Taeguk Warrior transfer:
Korea’s highly-rated left-back Yoon Sok-young once again linked with Man City as well as Everton, Spurs.
— John Duerden (@JohnnyDuerden) November 27, 2012
There was talk way back in the summer about Manchester City’s interest with Yoon Suk-Young. The Chunman Dragons’ left back has indicated he wants to go to Europe, but not until after the K-League season ends. We are rapidly approaching both the end of the K-League season as well as the January transfer window. Fans of the Taeguk Warriors’ historic Olympic medal run this past summer may remember the 22 year old representing in the backline. The defense, with few exceptions, exceeded expectations, and helped keep a clean scoresheet for 3 entire matches. By winning the bronze, Yoon is exempt from military service and is free and in the clear to pursue a further career abroad unencumbered.
K-Talk reported that Brazilian coach Moacir Pereira has been relieved of duty at Daegu FC. Despite his high salary, Daegu failed to make the top 10 when the K-League initiated their SPL style split mid season. There is one more round of games in the K-League left before season’s end.
Lee Young-Pyo is in the news here in the US. He was voted 2nd most valuable newcomer to the MLS this past season. Vancouver is trying hard to convince the everlasting Lee not to retire and return for what could be his last season as a footballer. He will turn 36 in April.
Well well, I nearly forgot. The Tavern will be tuning in to the MLS Cup match on Saturday. There’s no Koreans to speak of in either the LA Galaxy or the Houston Dynamo. It’s not the Premier League, not qualitatively by any stretch of the imagination. But I like rooting for underdogs, and the MLS itself has been an underdog of sorts – one that’s been making the right calls and steadily growing here for the last few years. Not an easy task in a non-soccer loving country. The quality is improving rapidly. The K-League could take a page from the MLS playbook in how they’ve been gradually cultivating a soccer audience, with attendance averages now exceeding that of the NBA and NHL (at times). Seattle has been really impressive – they’ve been able to fill up their stadium, 60,000+ on several occasions. Could the K-League in some fashion replicate that, grow a critical mass for the domestic game, and start filling in the empty seats you can find at any number of K-League matches? Right now, baseball is king as far as attention and attendance at stadiums go in Korea. The Tavern will now commence ‘positive visualization’ methods – to dream up a reversal of that situation: imagine throngs of 45,000+ in attendance, stomping their feet, chanting, drumming and cheering at an average run-of-the-mill K-League match…whoa, watch out for that smoke bomb! [cough cough cough]. Visualization over.
Perhaps the problem is an ironic one; that the benefit of building big beautiful World Cup stadiums all over South Korea back in 2000-2002 is now the problem of filling those stadiums for K-League games -for 44 home matches. The answer could be one that the MLS worked out a decade ago, to start building small, but smartly elegant soccer specific stadiums (17,000-22,000 seat stadiums) – that potentially could be expanded as the local market allows. That kind of thinking over the decade has reflected a realism approach that recognized that the US is not now a soccer oriented country – but could be in the future.
MLS Cup, Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo 4:30 p.m. ESPN, Telefutura, TSN and RDS (Canada)