Today’s win was an ugly one, but a win is a win right? Everyone, including myself, complains about Choi Kang Hee and with good reason, but I want to thank him today for FINALLY making the necessary changes. Though it took him a series of seven or eight horrendous games and the team performance was far from world class quality, it was still a huge improvement. Thank you CKH for the first game I felt remotely good about ever since the Olympics.
While Jae is currently writing a full match review let’s focus on some individual performances that stood out to me.
Let’s talk about KNT debutant Lee Myung Joo. Man of the match worthy performance from him, though whether he was THE MoM is a matter of debate. Here is a thought that I will be pondering for a long time – can a Ki Sung Yong – Lee Myung Joo central midfield pairing work out? A creator such as KSY thrives most when paired with a destroyer in Han Kook Young, but Lee Myung Joo might offer just as much defensive flair in ball winning and breaking up plays as HKY while offering much more going forward. In the upcoming friendlies KSY HKY must be tested (its too bad HKY was injured during the olympics since I’ve wanted to see this pairing for a long time). But KSY LMJ must be tested out as well, because if KSY + Park Jong Woo worked out to success in the Olympics, KSY LMJ might work as well. And LMJ is a far more polished player than HKY. Will LMJ complement or compete with Ki? I personally think LMJ will never compete because LMJ is not a pure regista a la Alonso or Pirlo and offers a considerable amount of defensive steel, but some seem to think they could compete for a spot. We’ll see, but as we all know so well experimentation doesn’t happen with Choi Kang hee at the helm. I am enthusiastic though, that we have four great central midfielders at our disposal in Ki SY, Lee MJ, Park JW, and Han KY.
Now Son Heung Min. Damn. His flick to take the ball away from the defenders to give LKH a clear 1 v 1 (which he woefully missed…) was class. His solo run where he juked out two defenders before a third defender bodyblocked his shot was just sublime. Before Son used to be criticized for only being able to shoot. Now he can pass very well and dribble very well as well. With his impending transfer to powerhouse Bayer Leverkusen … this kid – at only 20 years of age – is certainly going to be a star. This match also convinced me that at the international level Son can play up top, which is a great option when Park Ju Young is not around and later on when PJY retires.
Kim Chang Soo was also great today. He made some smart runs into space allowing him to be on the receiving end of long balls, and combined well with Lee Chung Yong. As I’ve said before, this guy is going to be our starting right back in Brazil 2014. The alternative right backs are too defensively fragile.
Another thing to note is that the media is finally catching up. The first headlines I see are about Lee Myung Joo’s fantastic debut; Son Heung Min outshining Lee Dong Gook; Lee Chung Yong still beign our team’s “ace”; the success of the new Olympic squad infused defensive line. I remember feeling so frustrated after a KNT match led to me pulling my hair out and having mini heart attacks after every time our defense was threatened, yet the media often made excuses and praised players who shouldn’t have been. Finally they realize the negative contribution Lee Dong Gook makes and criticizes players when need be. They did not realize, however, that Son and Lee Chung Yong were the ones who were triple-quadruple teamed; instead one article stated that Lee Dong Gook’s introduction ensured victory because uzbek defenders swarmed him. Complete BS. When LDG came on defenders kinda ignored him; he got into space easily, and even with opportunities he missed them.
Here are my match ratings. We’ll see how Jae’s compares soon.
Jung 7 – Crucial saves. He performs so well whenever he’s at home doesn’t he.. now if he could replicate that form everywhere.
Kwak Tae Hwi 7 – Highest i’ll ever rate this guy. First time he didnt give mw heart attacks every time he goes near the ball. Props for his efforts.
Kim Young Kwon 7.5 – Read my earlier articles and you’ll see that ive been pushing this guy to become our staeting defender for years to come along with HJH. A little sloppier than his immaculate display in the olympics (his first touch and ball control let him down a bit) but man he was still legit. He also sent in the vicious cross that led to the own goal.
Kim Chang Soo 7 – Wow. CKH didn’t I ask you to play him earlier? He had a rusty day where he couldn’t replicate his Olympics form for 45 minutes and he doesn’t play and is picked over the likes of Shin Kwang Hoon or Oh Beom Suk, neither of whom can cross nor defend…
Kim Chi Woo 5.5 / 6 – I don’t remember him doing anything and a lot of times it was Lee Keun Ho who tracked back to defend.
Lee Myung Joo 8.5 – won balls, tidy in possession, great defensive play yet showed ability to drive forward. Can he partner Ki? This will occupy my thoughts for a long time.
Park Jong Woo 6 – good but not amazing good. Tidy but sometimes invisible
Lee Chung Yong 8 – Good old Lee Chung Yong, do I need to say more? Though he faded a bit towards the end man he still contributed so much little things that went our way. Kept possession just as well as Koo Ja Cheol, Ki Sung Yong, and Kim Bo Kyung; exploited space; constantly was a threat down the right and occasionally the left; stole the ball many times. Great performance from him
Lee Keun Ho 5 – All our attacks just died with LKH. Clearly rusty in a season in the K League 2nd division. However, he contributed some speed and defensive work.
Kim Shin Wook 6.5 – On the first day long balls actually worked KSW provided a lot of linkups by heading the ball down from the air. Didn’t contribute much else though
Son Heung Min 8 – great all around attacking play.
Ji Don Won – I actaully didn’t see the last couple minutes so I missed JDW.
Lee Dong Gook 3 – Missed two easy chances again. I give him a 3 since he somehow gets into the right positions but cant ever finish. Kinda like me when I play soccer….