Korea 0 : Uruguay 1 [video/recap] + Lee Seung-Woo returns for U16 Tourney

A surprisingly packed stadium at Goyang at 38,000 strong celebrated Chuseok by watching an entertaining friendly; Korea had a number of tantalizing opportunities to break the deadlock, eventually falling to Uruguay 0-1. Experiments continued with interim manager Shin Tae-Yong’s last game in charge as incoming manager Uli Stielike watched the Taeguk Warriors hold off the 6th ranked Uruguay and their high powered offense scoreless until late in the 2nd half. 

The recap is going to be brief as the stream I was going with was glitchy, but I’ll give my best attempt. I divvied up the recap in these storyline segments:

Uruguay pressed early in the match but held off successfully

Much chatter before the match: Ki Sung-Yeung switched to centerback, at times part of a 3 man backline, a  formation that also morphed from 3-4-3 / 3-6-1 and later a 4-2-3-1 with Han Kook-Young subbing in the 2nd half to allow Ki to move higher up. Normally a holding midfielder, Ki was occasionally called to be a CB with Swansea, notably in the League Cup final in 2013.  Ki along with Kim Young-Gwon and Kim Ju-Young and did their job relatively well; passes were cut off, crosses into the area were headed and cleared. Cavani and company were frustrated in their inability to penetrate Korea’s defense in the final third. To be fair, a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay was missing it’s bite (where’s the drum rolls? Come on!). Nevertheless, Uruguay still had a good deal of firepower at it’s disposal, which kept Korea busy, particularly as they caused danger by created space out wide – and causing a bit of havoc from there.

One notable change: Lee Bum-Young got the call to mind the net. With Kim Seung-Gyu preparing for Asian games and Kim Jin-Hyeon benched (probably for his spectacular giveaway gaffe leading to Venezuela’s only goal last Friday), the Busan IPark keeper did not disappoint. Uruguay had a sure goal brilliantly swept away by Lee in the 2nd half, his reflexes and his judgement on field seem to look assured.

Chances missed for team Korea and (what else?) a set piece breakdown 

Korea’s offense was slow to get started, but got their gears in motion, particularly towards the end of the first half. Son Heung-Min led the offense, creating opportunities and aggravating the Uruguay defense with his swashbuckling ways. Meanwhile Lee Dong-Guk, the hero of Friday’s match, looking uninspired and absent for his 101st cap. The lone forward, he often congested the area, was ineffective and failed to link up with his teammates. He was subbed off for Lee Keun-Ho finally in the 71st minute.

There was a similar pattern with Friday night. Lee Chung-Yong, while carrying on with his usual good workrate, was missing a bit of form. Similar to Friday, there were some less than stellar passes that led to more frequent turnovers from the Bolton midfielder. His decision making at the final third just didn’t have that (what do you call it, sparkle?) to be as effective in the final third. There will be undoubtedly a more thorough reflection on his performances given that this seems to be a carryover from his lackluster World Cup performance.

Son Heung-Min looked to be the engine driving the offense. He had all the best opportunities to score – and there were ample shots fired by the Leverkusen man. However, despite showing off world class form in getting the ball to the final third, Uruguay’s keeper was able to fend them off his shots.  Form without finish today? Several times today he was so close, so close to breaking the deadlock.

No cigar, and Son’s best chance of the night at the 67th minute on a brilliantly timed breakaway was extinguished -the keeper blocked his direct shot (with a last minute help from a defender to muddy the shot) haunted Korea only 2 minutes later when Uruguay scored from (what else?) a set piece breakdown. After Ki fouled near the area, Benedetti’s short distance free kick found Chema, his header just beyond Lee Bum-Young’s hands.  Kim Ju-Young missed his mark, a glaring mistake from an otherwise decent night for the defender.

One note as Korea pressed for the equalizer, in the 88th minute Ki got elbowed in face while jostling for position during a corner kick. The ref signaled like he would give a penalty kick, but kept his card in his pocket. After a little drama + consulting with the line refs, he recalled his decision, saying there was an offsides called.

It’s hard to be truly unhappy with the result however. Uruguay is a quality South American side and Son may have been a bit unlucky to not net one tonight -result could’ve gone either way.  And one can’t read too much into a friendly like this.  Even had Korea won (or more practically drawn), confidence of similar consistent results against top 10 teams or top 20 teams in actual tournaments is far away from being assured.  For further context, this isn’t the full representation of the KNT squad.

  • Kim Bo-Kyung, Hong Jeong-Ho, Kim Jin-Su and Ji Dong-Won wasn’t in the squad (or recovering from injuries). Koo Ja-Cheol had a minor knock and didn’t appear at all in these friendlies. Kim Shin-Wook, Kim Seung-Gyu and Park Joo-Ho are preparing for the Asian games.  Park Chu-Young isn’t on form, but at age 29, possibly could be a potential striker for team Korea if certain things finally go right in his career.
  • It is only the 2nd friendly since the World Cup, and it’s under the confusion + turmoil as Korea was without an official head coach. Of course, Uli got a quick glance at some of what he has in his disposal as new incoming head coach of the KNT – I’d imagine he probably isn’t too unhappy with what he saw, a slightly better result than Japan’s 0-2 loss to Uruguay only a few days ago.


However we have learned some things from tonight:

  • Jung Sung-Ryong is no longer goal keeper #1 for Korea.  The indications are more than clear that his ship has sailed.
  • Lee Bum-Young can be a contender for KNT netminder along with Kim Seung-Gyu. He looked very steady tonight. Good competition from the two can only be an asset for the KNT going into the future.
  • Interim manager Shin Tae-Yong short time as interim manager was largely commendable.  Given the personnel at his disposal, he made the experimental call ups and formations fairly appropriate. 1 win vs Venezuela / 1 loss not conceding until late and almost scoring against Uruguay -with only a few weeks to cobble it all together – not too shabby.  I’d only question his subbing decisions.  Not subbing Son in the 2nd half vs Venezuela and having him go 90 minutes today with important fixtures for his club – very dubious. Ki Sung-Yeung also heavily used – 90 minutes today with Chelsea this weekend doesn’t do favors for him. More perhaps to do with the lack of depth in the squad. Could Shin Tae-Yong be a future choice for KNT manager?
  • Ki’s stock is rising. I shudder to think what the KNT would be without the Swansea midfielder – and now we saw him competently take on the role of centerback for the KNT. Even playing that deep, Ki’s vision and accuracy was instrumental in starting devastating counter attacks. Ki can be effective with his occasional forays up front as well, his versatility an absolute asset. Ki is starting to = total football. Here’s his 50 yard pass that zeroed in on Son in the 2nd half:
  • Lee Dong-Guk, while showing he still is capable of scoring last Friday, also showed his potential liability and continues the narrative that there is a striker crisis for Korea.  Clogging the area tonight, Lee’s role with Uli’s squad may be limited.
  • Despite his old age, Cha Du-Ri is starting to turn me into a believer. But why should I be surprised, he is after all the son of the legend, Cha Bum-Kun, who was productive well into his 30’s in Germany. Had senior Cha not been drafted into the military at an earlier age, what more could he have done in Germany?  Cha Jr is having his KNT renaissance at age 34, and his exploits bombing down the wings and delivering pernicious crosses makes the only veteran of the 2002 World Cup a surprising bright spot for what has been a problematic RB position.
  • I didn’t get a chance to see all of Lee Myeong-Joo’s touches today, but the few I did looked quality. Late in the match in the hunt for an equalizer, he pulled off a Ki Sung-Yeung-esque pass – that is a long distance beauty that a particular Korean player nearly latched onto behind the Uruguay backline. Ki would’ve been proud, if it weren’t for the fact that he was the one failing to latch onto’s Lee’s pass.  Another opportunity missed.
  • Some of the substitutions were not convincing. Nam Tae-Hee and Lee Keun-Ho both have exhibited well in their past KNT outings, but looked flat tonight.  Lee Keun-Ho, who will transfer to a Qatar club later when his military duty is up, was all energy, but didn’t link well.
  • We must wait some more time before getting an opportunity to avenge Uruguay’s 2-1 victory in the 2010 World Cup that knocked Korea out at the round of 16.

A few more observations…

Mascot Baek-ho sitting on the sidelines was hit by an errant ball.  I’m beginning to like Baek-ho, his antics were hilarious as the mascot writhed in mock pain from the collision.

Baek-Ho : oh the agony…


Over to Thailand for the U16 Championship, earlier today Lee Seung-Woo returned from serving a one game suspension and helped secure a narrow 1-0 group stage win against Malaysia.

Here’s a video highlight of Lee Seung-Woo’s touches on Monday

Last group match, Korea faces hosts Thailand on September 10 Wednesday at 9am EST / 10pm Korea Time. Korea beat Oman in the first group match 3-1 on Saturday.

Full Video recap Korea vs Uruguay:

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  1. Defense looked pretty good today. Uruguay couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. KSY looked great and made some nice passes. Also it’s a pity that SHM can’t finish for the KNT. He had good movement but too many wasted chances as usual. We need a clinical finisher to step up and claim the center forward role. Can’t depend on the old guard (LDK and LKH) for the future.
    Has there been any recent transfer new on PCY?

    • An article cmae out a while ago about how PCY is lacking motivation to play football, and one of his old coaches sort of said in the interview “come back to Korea, so youcan start playing for the NT again” but it’s all hush hush on the PCY front.

      I hope the guy finds a team. Maybe he’ll get some oil money. I actually wouldn’t mind anymore. The guy needs to play.

  2. Undisputed hilight of the match: Baekho! XDXD Mebbe not quite Phillie Phanatic-class yet, but looking promising! =D (btw, Mets fan here *sob*, luv Mr.Met/hate all thing Phils/Braves, but that Phanatic is a breed apart :))

    • Baekho’s funny, even though it’s just a human sweltering in a tiger(?).

      I remeber him going to hug the players after Dongguo scored goal nnumber two, and the players were sort of like “uh, okay, high five”…

  3. Thanks for the write-up Roy.

    I only saw the first half (got to watch the second) but it felt like a solid game, still the same flaws, but it sort of reminds me of the Brazil friendly in many respects. It could have been worse, we had a couple chances, and we put up a great fight. Not a bad loss at all.

    I read (not just here, but on other sites too) that Nam Tae Hee wasn’t very good, which disappointed me, he’s a quality player in my opinion, especially when you’ve played Cho Young-Cheol..

    but Lee Beom-Young was very good from what I saw. (heard he made a killer save too) Honestly, the goalkeeping performances for these two friendlies were decent. (I’ve been praised on twitter for commending him in my preview – I love it when I’m proved right.) Aside from Kim Jin-Hyeon’s sad mindfart, both made some great saves. LBY earning his 1st cap too – Chukhaderipnida!

    LMJ should get more looks for a NT spot, he’s impressed w/ his passing and ofc that excellent goal.

    LDG 5 years younger would have made me happy, but he’s getting on. So is Cha. I’m biased, but if Chaminator can be this good in 4 years, he must be called up from qualifying/WC. But I’m biased and that probably won’t happen.

    Park Chu-Young…. come back…

    JSR needs to re-prove his worth in the K-League, but I don’t think he’s the best keeper we have anymore. B/c he cracks under pressure. Hell Kim Byung-Ji looks better than him at times. I still want tonaturalise Memo Ochoa though 😉

    Shin Tae-Yong gets a thumbup from me. He did very well despite taking over right away, while Hong didn’t… I don’t know if this is a result of Choi messing things up for Hong, and Hong leaving things nicer for Shin, or Hong not being as good as Shin, or Hong having to create a WC team and Shin just taking charge of “who really cares” friendlies with no expectations.

    Still, quite pleased with the results from this friendly, and really excited for what Stielike can do.

    I don’t know how many KNT games Jae has attended, but he’s 0-for-2 this year. Is it a curse in the making? 😉

    • So I finally watched the game last night. I wasn’t impressed by Lee Beom Young. He made one solid save in 2nd half but besides that, he was shaky in his distribution, slow coming off his line (or just slow with his feet), and his command in the box wasn’t all that impressive for me. He’s certainly an upgrade over low-confidence Jung Sung Ryong atm but really, I don’t think any GK from current KNT pool has real advantage over the other.

      • I don’t think LBY can improve that area much. Most of us had noted in the past that he was pretty slow on his feet and (relatively speaking) not the most athletic of GK’s.

  4. I agree that Lee Bumyoung was steady and assured in his goalkeeping during today’s match against Uruguay, and it makes sense that he and Kim Seunggyu are contending for the goalkeeping position for KNT– I think of Kim Seunggyu’s goalkeeping against Belgium in the World Cup, which was solid considering the fact that his fingers (on his right hand) were injured (his own words, according to a July 2014 interview I read featuring him + his thoughts about the All Star Game).

    I was wondering: to what extent do y’all think that playing at home helps the KNT perform better during games? I honestly think that the home team advantage had played a considerable role in boosting the 2002 World Cup team to the semi-finals, because MANY South Korean fans were at South Korea’s games, in person, cheering for their team.

    Obviously, so many other factors exist in determining how a football team performs in a game, but I can tell that the noticeable presence of South Korean fans can boost the team’s performance, while an absence makes it harder on KNT to do that. That’s because South Korea’s culture is a collectivist one (there’s a stronger emphasis on group identity and seeing yourself in light of other people). This one page article explains it well: http://cranepsych.edublogs.org/files/2009/07/individual_vs_collectivist.pdf

    What I want to say is that KNT needs to learn how to perform well even in a stadium packed with fans cheering for the opposing team. (That might be hard for KNT to do because its players need the cheering + visible support from its fans, which might not always be there each time they play.) I think this is important to note especially for the World Cup, since South Korea won’t be able to bid to host the tournament for awhile: http://www.starsandstripesfc.com/usmnt-news/2014/9/8/6121953/world-cup-2026-host-usa-sepp-blatter

    I’m hopeful that the South Korean team will be more aware of this under Stielike, because a Global Post article stated that Stielike noticed that some KNT members appeared to be flustered under pressure, and that the team definitely looked that way against Belgium in the World Cup. He wants to ensure that the team will be handle whatever pressure they encounter during the game, and I think that’s a good call.

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly. We need to play more friendlies against tricky opposition on the road. Not like Oman or Iran, but like a Uruguay or England. I hope Stielike acnowledges this.

    • Oh and Blatter’s just a vote-wanting moron. He told Canada that “he felt at home in Canada” and said that we stood a very good chance of getting the 2026 World Cup too.

      Hey, maybe we can split the thing. Travel would be a nightmare though…

      And yes, I have no problem with Americans whatsoever. It’s just a joke. I mean we split the World Cup with Japan. Canada-USA isn’t that bad. We even make Obama cookies in Ottawa! (A 10 dollar cookie with Obama icing).

    • Playing in Korea does help. If you read my stats retrospective post on the last WC cycle it’s night and day between home matches and away/neutral matches. In Korea (between the 2010 and 2014 WCs), Korea went 16-4-6 with 46 scored and 21 conceded. Away from Korea the team went 9-7-12 with 33 scored and 45 conceded. The fans help for sure, but there’s also the travel factor. Teams often arrive in Korea jetlagged and tired while many of the Korean players are fresh. Even the KNT players who travel from Europe get the ‘home’ feeling while the visiting teams are stuck in hotels.

      The team should play away more, but that can be a tricky proposition. Since Euro qualifying is going on, Korea can really only play teams from the Americas and Africa, and Korea isn’t a big draw away, but they are at home, so it makes more financial sense to play in Korea.

  5. I just want to clarify: in the article, Stielike said that the KNT definitely looked like it was under pressure during its game against Belgium because it had lost to Algeria before then. This is what I’m suggesting, though: the absence of many South Korean fans at KNT’s World Cup games this past summer / that this World Cup was on foreign soil for the KNT also contributed to the pressure that Stielike mentions in the article.

    • I don’t think we should try and sugar coat our performance there with the lack of cheering fans on foreign soil. Nope.

      Also Cha DR has more athletic ability in his pinky finger even at the age of 34 then the 2 CBs we took to Brazil combined. He might not be all that savvy but he surely should’ve been there.

    • Yea, lets not sugar coat KNT’s failure in Brazil. They were just bad, that’s it. As for South Korean fan support? While I do not know the official stat/numbers, I’m sure the support was greater compared to 2010 World Cup in South Africa (remember how Korea progressed to knockout stage in slightly tougher group?).

    • I get what you’re saying, but a team can’t blame its performance on a lack of fans. It’s a problem that every team is going to face sometime or another. It’s part of the game, so if the KNT worries about that, they’re gonna have some serious issues. I agree with you that if the new coach eliminates that thinking from the team, it can only help them; it would be sad to me though if that is what has been holding them back.

  6. Also, in my original post, I made sure not to attribute any of the KNT’s performances, including its stint at the World Cup in June, to a lack of fans, so that’s why I said “obviously, so many other factors exist in determining how a football team performs in a game”. Yes, I also agree that the team was just simply bad in the World Cup.

    • I think you made a legitimate point and some others mistook it as somehow blaming a lack of fan presence. I took your point to be very simple. They need to get not only better technically, but much stronger mentally. I would agree with you. It’s strange that Korea seems to have gotten softer as they’ve become more talented. When they had far less talent in the 80’s and 90’s they were far more tough minded.

      • oh you mean back in the 80s and 90s when they were a much more known quantity than now? I appreciate your dialogue, Daniel but I sometimes think you go too far with this. And for the record, we’ve always had the reputation for playing poorly abroad.

        In 1994 “Fighting” actually meant something. In 98 we caved in completely. In 2002 we were real fighters. Ever since then we’ve been scraping by and trying to play for pride. In 2014, Im hoping it was a statistical Q value and one we can we just forget about and move on from.

        • Your point makes no sense. First, they were not a known quantity. And 1994 constitutes the 90’s. Furthermore, fighting has nothing to do with results. Korean talent was FAR inferior to their competition and the losses were expected. However, their effort was always there. So, I how exactly you can say I’m going too far with anything is beyond me. Even in 98, they bombed against an incredibly good Dutch team, but they played their hearts out against better Mexican and Belgian teams. If you think fighting necessarily equates to winning, then you’re mistaken. Furthermore, I was speaking generally, so of course, there may be outliers. They have been far softer lately with more talented players than they have been in the past with lesser players, partly because that’s all they had. How you can dispute this and claim I’m being extreme is beyond me.

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