Korea holds US scoreless / Things we learned from US Korea Women’s friendly [UPDATE]

History in the making, X2. It’s difficult to hold back the US Women’s Team -a powerful enough squad to create their own force of gravity, but out from under the radar came the Lady Taeguk Warriors who stymied the US from creating any rhythm on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. In doing so they accomplished quite the feat -holding the US scoreless at their own home turf for the first time since November 5th 2008.  And just who was that opponent that last shut down the might giants of women’s football?  None other than South Korea. Both games ended as 0-0 draws. 

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that Korea’s women’s program is very much a work in progress and it would be a stretch to say they are a footballing powerhouse. That said, Ji So-Yun (voted England professional Player of the Year last month for her work at Chelsea Ladies) and company surprised many in front of a packed sold out stadium 26,000 strong, a nationally televised audience and stunned managers at team USA who may have expected a nice morale boosting send off to the World Cup next week.

In case you missed it – the entire match is available for replay at ESPN3.com in the US.

Some takeaways from the match:

  • Korea looked well organized. Credit manager Yoon Deok-Yeo, a veteran of the Taeguk Warriors World Cup squad of 1990 (which happened to be the year the Women’s national team was inaugurated).  However, while organized, the frequency of turnovers by the team as the match progressed stymied their effectiveness in the final third. Better teamwork may have masked over some individual performances.
  • Credit to Ji So-Yun, who commanded the troops directly on the pitch. She was the conductor and did fairly well with the job but perhaps asked to do too much with striker Yeo Min-Ji out injured last week.  They were missing Yeo’s presence up front, which may have added pressure on Ji to take on the striking duties as well.
  • First half set the tone for the match in which Korea’s ball possession and organization in utilizing space efficiently helped take the US out of their game.
  • Korea struggled with being outmuscled by the US.  Perhaps Park Eun-Sun needed to come onto the pitch earlier (she subbed in the 85th minute).
  • The US committed a large number of fouls – but remarkably Korea committed only 1 foul – and that was as late as the 75th minute.
  • Korea’s defense looked shakiest in passing out from the back.  Some cringe-worthy moments with misspasses led to near catastrophe turnovers deep in the back.  One of the veterans of the KWNT’s only other World Cup in 2003, keeper Kim Jung-mi kept calm and proved her mettle – dealing with a number of saves to boast a clean sheet.
  • Scariest moments weren’t any of the shots on target by the Americans, but on field injuries – first to midfielder Park Hee-Young who left in the 17th minute for a dislocated shoulder. Even scarier: after halftime, Ji So-Yun was left writhing in agony after getting clipped in the heel by a US player.  A few tense minutes for Team Korea, Ji had to leave the pitch, but after getting examined, she limped back into the game.  If Ji had gotten a worse injury – it would’ve been game over for Korea’s World Cup.
  • If Korea stalled the US from scoring – the US were effectively able to contain Korea offense in efficient measure, with the Lady Taeguk Warriors only launching 7 shots.  Korea, with Ji So-Yun directing, were able to engineer some danger up front that looked promising. But the US defense were able to extinguish those threats before Korea could effectively pull the trigger. Again, Yeo Min-Ji injured in training last week and out of the World Cup showed what a blow this has been for their offense.
  • One particular bright moment: substitute Lee Geum-Min – who was doing her best Son Heung-min impersonation – let loose a rocket of a shot from 20 yards out that forced Hope Solo to desperately lunge to her left. She just got a hand on the ball to keep the ball from going into the net deep in stoppage time. Let’s hope Lee has some more of that in the World Cup.
  • Can Park Eun-Sun be the difference maker in the World Cup this June?  We only saw 5 minutes of her late in the game but the forward, who plays for Russian club WFC Rossiyanka, has been a proven goal scorer for club and country. Like keeper Kim Jung-Mi, both are veterans of Korea’s only other World Cup appearance in ’03.
  • For manager Yoon Deok-Yeo – scheduling this friendly / final tune up with an elite power in Women’s football before the World Cup begins was pretty ballsy.  There was always the chance that this could have been a blowout/demoralizing 5-0 loss, (the score the last time the teams met in 2013).  Instead, it ended up as an encouraging result, not perfect, but not bad vs the 2nd ranked team in the world.  There’s a lot to learn and build from the tune up as Korea gets ready for their first group match against Brazil.

Here’s the shot that almost won Korea the game:


We’re reposting info about South Korea’s group matches for the Women’s World Cup but here’s the TV schedule in the US:

Tues June 9   7:00 PM EST Brazil vs Korea      @ Montreal    FOX Sports 1

Sat June 13  7:00 PM EST Korea  vs Costa Rica    @Montreal  FOX Sports2

Wed June 17   7:00 PM EST Korea Republic vs Spain    @Ottawa     FOX Sports 2

The Tavern is getting ready for kalbi on the grill and soju on tap. Game on. The Tavern will have more coverage in the next few days.  By my own admission as the Tavern Owner, we have not given enough coverage for the women’s game.  That should and must be amended and I’m proud to announce that in anticipation of the Women’s World Cup – for the first time ever, the Tavern will have the likes of Ji So-Yun on the website’s masthead.  Look for other women to represent Korean football at the highest level on the Tavern’s masthead in the coming days.  Women rock and we don’t mind saying so.


But we don’t want to forget about the namja’s : today Uli Stielike announced the 23 man roster for Korea’s first 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Myanmar June 16 [8am US EST/ 7pm Korea Time].  Thursday June 11th they’ve scheduled a tune up friendly against UAE [5am US EST / 6pm Korea Time].  A number of euro based players like Kim Bo-Kyung and Koo Ja-Cheol will not be available due to summer military obligations. In addition, do expect an experimental lineup given the opposition for the WCQ.

Position No Name Date of Birth Cm/Kg Club Caps/Goals
GK KIM Seunggyu 1990.09.30 18780 Ulsan 10 / -11
GK KIM Jinhyeon 1987.07.06 193/78 Cerezo Osaka 11 / -8
GK JUNG Sungryong 1985.01.04 190/86 Suwon 64 / -64
DF LIM Chaimin 1990.11.18 185/75 Seongnam 1 / 0
DF KIM Changsoo 1985.09.12 179/72 Kashiwa Reysol 19 / 0
DF HONG Jeongho 1989.08.12 186/77 Augsburg 29 / 1
DF KIM Keehee 1989.07.13 187/80 Jeonbuk 9 / 0
DF KWAK Taehwi 1981.07.08 185/80 Al Hilal 43 / 5
DF KIM Jinsu 1992.06.13 177/67 Hoffenheim 16 / 0
DF JEONG Dongho 1990.03.07 175/68 Ulsan 1 / 0
DF LEE Juyong 1992.09.26 180/76 Jeonbuk 0 / 0
MF LEE Jaesung 1992.08.10 180/70 Jeonbuk 2 / 1
MF LEE Chungyong 1988.07.02 180/69 Crystal Palace 65 / 6
MF JANG Hyunsoo 1991.09.28 187/77 Guangzhou Fuli 14 / 0
MF SON Heungmin 1992.07.08 183/78 Leverkusen 42 / 10
MF HAN Kookyoung 1990.04.19 183/73 Qatar SC 26 / 0
MF NAM Taehee 1991.07.03 175/73 Lekhwiya SC 23 / 2
MF JUNG Wooyoung 1989.12.14 186/78 Vissel Kobe 0 / 0
MF CHOE Bogyeong 1988.04.12 184/79 Jeonbuk 0 / 0
MF YEOM Kihun 1983.03.30 182/78 Suwon 49 / 3
MF KANG Sooil 1987.07.15 184/74 Jeju 0 / 0
FW LEE Yongjae 1991.06.08 180/78 V-Varen Nagasaki 0 / 0
FW LEE Jeonghyeop 1991.06.24 186/76 Sangju 9 / 3



Some takeaways – Kang Su-Il has been given the green light and called up. If he plays in either of the 2 matches in June, he will be only the 2nd mixed race Korean to represent the Taeguk Warriors.  I have a few more thoughts but there’ll be plenty of time to deconstruct the call ups.

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  1. This site is awesome.
    I found this site recently and it is a really good source at updating me with korean football news. Thanks for having this site exist

  2. 1st ever comment for me. Appreciate the women’s Coverage. Korea ‘s team is def ascending as they won u17 World Cup a few yes back. Si excited to see them in action in Montreal. we’re taking our daughters. Go taeguk tigresses!

    • Thanks Jim! And kudos for taking your daughters to the World Cup – that’s pretty awesome. Let’s hope there’s a new generation of Korean girls inspired to take up football and take Korea’s game to a new level.

    • All Good man, it’s a helluva good day for football/soccer. It’s an astonishing thing, like the Berlin Wall falling, I thought this day would never come. Next step: Blatter to spend the rest of his miserable life in jail.

      • Will u b doing a post/commentary on this? Would like to know who KFA voted for; heard AFC as a bloc was pretty much all Blatter (along w/ Africa), so I suppose SK just went along :/ (even tho Aus/NZ had the balls to go against both Blatter & AFC)

        And what about Japan, did they take the high road, or toe the Asian line? China…sorry, can’t help thinking they woulda been like Russia, blech x/

        But y was it the developed, democratic world (NA/EU/Oceania, i.e. white folks) seemed to wanna clean house, but developing parts (Afr/AFC, i.e. non-white folks) wanted status quo? Was it just “he helped us out”-reciprocity? And/or did corruption suit/benefit these nations? REEAALLY don’t wanna bring race & 1st world vs nth world stuff into this, but it’s kinda right there/hard to ignore o_O

        • Hi Dae,

          I’d like to try to write something on the post-Blatter era we’ve been ushered into -jammed on time at the moment so we’ll see if I can get something meaningful and still relevant out there for the Tavern.

          So to address your questions: as a block, yes, unfortunately the AFC (and CAF) voted as a block for Blatter last Friday (can’t believe it was just a week ago – obviously much has happened and revealed since then including Blatter resigning suddenly on Monday). That is to the AFC’s discredit and shame in light of everything known about the indictments and culture of corruption with Blatter at the helm. And yet it has to also be viewed in light of everything Blatter has done to make FIFA less euro-centric. There’s nuance to untangle here. If there was anything positive Blatter has done – it was to extend the idea of bringing the World Cup to other parts of the globe and help elevate football across the board. Good intent or not, monumental problems in just how that was implemented needs scrutiny…

          The one vote per country is an area to examine being instrumental in the mechanism Blatter used to win Friday’s vote despite the incredibly strong evidence of wrongdoing at the top of the FIFA foodchain, indictments not withstanding. But looking at this from a devil’s advocate POV, 1 vote 1 country is fairly democratic as is equal distribution of FIFA funds, even to smaller countries. There’s no doubt some of that money (emphasis on some) has had positive effects for football programs in poorer countries in Africa, Asia and Oceana. Is it fair that the US gets the same amount as a smaller country like Lichenstein? It’s a good question but the Tavern doesn’t want to tackle that. Instead, the bigger picture is the utter lack of transparency – add in to the mix the large sums given to various FA’s = the high likihood of local FA officials pocketing that money instead of directing it toward their local football programs. That has layers of criminality in it. It is very much that status quo that has broadly instructed most of the FAs that voted for Blatter.

          Did the KFA vote for Blatter? It’s hard to say given they won’t disclose their vote (unlike the US and UEFA chief Platini – which publicly backed Blatter’s rival). Chung Mong-joon, honorary FIFA VP and former KFA head criticized Blatter in the run-up to the vote – but he’s not the head of the KFA. Now he’s considering a run for FIFA prez (but is he entirely free of corruption from his years at FIFA?)

          There’s indication that Korea discretely voted against Blatter despite the AFC directive. Different voices at the KFA have done a PR dance to distance themselves from any hint of overt corruption FIFA style but again, we’re not privy to their vote. Meanwhile, over across the East Sea, the JFA, from my understanding, was more vocal in their support for Blatter. As more corruption detail is coming out from the US FBI investigation into FIFA, the JFA’s stance may come under fire relatively soon.

          Latin America had a mixed record in their vote. Europeans were more uniform in opposition, but even Platini’s native country of France bucked his directive and voted Blatter.

          There’s so much structural corruption at FIFA’s roots, and there’s much more to untangle as we await further indictments to come. Questions we have: what role KFA officials may have had in this entire messy affair. At the Tavern, we’re cautiously optimistic where FIFA can go from here to reform themselves and start anew.

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