After the end of international break with Koreans coming back from KNT duty, usually it’s a quiet weekend for KPAs in Europe, but it kinda wasn’t. Lee Chung-Yong starting for Crystal Palace and speculation over whether Lee Seung-Woo would get his first minutes in Italy made sure it was a buzzy weekend of sorts. We’ll start the roundup with Spurs however…
Son Heung-Min: last 5 minutes subbing in for Harry Kane, a comfortable 0:3 win at Everton’s Goodison Park. After heavy minutes and heavy international travel for Son, no surprise Poch would rest Sonny, especially with Champions League action in a few days time – more on that later…(what I saw: Son for 5 minutes + 4 added stoppage looked decent, helped in build up to a possible 4th goal that didn’t materialize).
Ki Sung-Yeung: not in the 18 for Swansea’s 0:1 loss to Newcastle – not having fully been integrated in training in post-knee-injury recovery. One has to wonder why Ki was called up to fly out for international duty to begin with when Shin probably had no intention of playing him except in emergency.
Kwon Chang-Hoon: injured during international duty for Korea over the the break, Kwon was out of the 18 in Dijon’s 1:2 loss at Caen.
Suk Hyun-Jun: newly transferred to Ligue 1’s Troyes club from the wilderness of Hungary, the Porto loanee wasn’t in the 18 for Troyes 0:0 draw with Toulouse. The score and 10 fruitless shots might be in hindsight a good thing for Suk as he seeks his debut in France.
Lee Chung-Yong: surprise start for Lee as Frank De Boer was under pressure – no goals no wins and an unwritten mandate to win at Burnley or face the ax. Lee had been forgotten by previous (and also hapless) managers at Crystal Palace, but with new sports director Dougie Freeman in charge, his former boss probably convinced the Blue Dragon to not abandon Crystal Palace and take up Bolton’s request to transfer Lee back to his former club before the transfer window closed last week. However, in one tragic moment 4 minutes after the start, Lee strangely decided to backpass to the keeper. Burnley’s forward, New Zealander Chris Wood pounced on the underweighted pass and scored straight away. Lee would try to make up for the mistake but damage was done and was subbed out at the 65th minute, an outing and afternoon to forget. This morning, the consequences for Frank De Boer was realized: he was sacked and word is Roy Hodgson will be coming on to replace him. What that means for Lee is uncertain. If Hodgson were to play scapegoat politics, the easy target (Lee) would mean another season shut out of 1st team minutes as a punishment for the backpass/backlash – and quell any fan anger directed at Chungy. If however he decides to implement a long game strategy, he might decide that one glaring mistake does not define the totality of a impactful footballer (see John Stones for his many errors in the back for Man City & Everton). If the latter, we might still see Lee Chung-Yong get his chance at atoning and contributing to CP for the season (and with meaningful Premier League minutes, an obvious invitation back to the KNT in time for the 2018 World Cup).
Lee Seung-Woo: It was probably too soon anyway, but there was electric excitement in the air on Sunday when it was announced the former Barca academy standout would in uniform for Hellas Verona’s match against Fiorentina. Maybe it was for the best Lee didn’t get on the pitch as it was a massacre at home, Fiorentina decimating Verona 0:5.
Hwang Hee-Chan: bench rest coming back from international duty, RB Salzburg’s Hwang was sent in the 65th minute with Rapid Wein up 0:1. Within 10 minutes, Salzburg equalized, then had to hustle to come back again in stoppage time to salvage a 2:2 draw.
Lee Jin-Hyup: Another start for Austria Wein, played 89 minutes in a 2:2 draw with Wolfsberger AC.
Looking ahead to midweek Champions League and Europa League matches to look forward to:
Wednesday September 13
Spurs v Borussia Dortmund 2:45PM US EST / (Thursday) 3:45AM Korea Time US TV: FS1
Can Spurs break their Wembley hoodoo? Will Son be able to do to BVB what he did to them when he was back in the Bundesliga for Hamburg in his 2012-2013 breakout season? Regardless, this should be a thrilling Champions League group stage test for Spurs (too bad Park Joo-Ho can’t join in the fun as he’s out injured and out of radar on BVBII).
Thursday September 14
Austria Wein v AC Milan 1:00PM US EST /(Friday) 2AM Korea Time No US TV
The question I need to ask is if Lee Jin-Hyun is on Austria Wein’s Europa League roster? Answer: probably. I think so. Anway, he’s started all his games since going on loan from Pohang, looks fast and scored on his debut 2 weeks ago. AC Milan is licking their wounds from a 4:1 drubbing at the hands of Lazio. Is Milan’s confidence shaken and can Austria Wein capitalize at home on Thursday?
Vitoria SC v RB Salzburg 3:05PM US EST / (Friday) 4:05 Korea Time No US TV
Hwang Hee-Chang was rested initially on the bench over the weekend, but don’t be surprised to see him in the starting XI for Salzburg. While he didn’t score for Korea over the int’l break, he and Son both nearly got on the scoreline in the Iran and Uzbekistan games, with Hwang with a Park Ji-Sung-esque workrate despite suffering from some niggling injuries.
Still catching up on things as I got back from a trip to Colorado, here’s one more happy 5th anniversary to the Tavern! Got a follow up post (hopefully soon) on how research evidence regarding long international travel and it’s effects on KPA’s during the long European campaign. Until then, be on the lookout for a podcast coming soon as the Tavern deconstructs Korea and how they managed qualification for the 2018 World Cup.