Player Ratings: Korea 1, Mexico 2

Korea are looking set to crash out of the World Cup after Jang Hyun-soo conceded a penalty and Lozano scored on the counter (after a questionable foul, unchecked by VAR) in a 2-1 loss to Mexico. Son Heung-min scored a beautiful consolation goal but to no avail.

Cho Hyun-woo

TL: Great save, dominant in the air. He’ll have wanted to stop that 1v1 chance and clean up a couple distribution errors but not all that bad. 7

MW: I cannot fault him for either goal as he was done in by defending mistakes for both goals conceded. And he also made some great saves again, some good strong punches, and more commanding decisions. He immediately picked the ball out of the net and encouraged the team to keep going. It’s these moments and parts of his personality that make me believe in his potential as a KNT No. 1 GK. 9

Kim Min-woo

TL: Felt like he was stifled in attack but didn’t do anything silly. EDIT: A commenter reminded me he did hit that silly pass (turnover) that led to the penalty, so rating adjusted accordingly. 5

MW: He didn’t make a mistake like against Sweden but didn’t offer very much of note in attack. I thought it was a big vote of a confidence in him by Shin for him to give the start to the LB that conceded a penalty last match. He didn’t disappoint the manager. 5

Jang Hyun-soo

TL: Two stupid slide tackles conceded an idiotic penalty and gave Lozano a free chance on goal. Can’t imagine how he plays another competitive game for the national team, he has cost this team tonight. 1

MW: What can I say? Everything we know about Jang was confirmed in this match. He is reckless in the tackle and doesn’t know the golden rule of CBs in the box. Don’t go to ground unless you absolutely have to. Both sliding tackles that led to goals were absolutely needless and poorly executed. For the penalty, absolutely no competent CB would raise their arm in the air in that manner. For the second goal, he slide right past Chicarito and left Cho in no-man’s for that goal. He should’ve stayed on his feet and tried to close the angle so Chicarito couldn’t score. 1

Kim Young-gwon

TL: Honestly didn’t seem to have much. Made a couple rash fouls I think, and was uncomfortable in distribution, but compared to his partner… 6

MW: I don’t really know what I remember of him. Forgettable performance but didn’t make crucial mistakes. 6

Lee Yong

TL: It’s not that I have something against Lee Yong himself, but I don’t support using him as our out ball/quasi-winger… made a lot of clippy fouls early in the first half and struggled to clear his lines on the goal. 5

MW: I echo what Tim says. He just doesn’t really seem to have the game to be the wide player that Korea needs him to be on the overlap. When he finds space out wide, he just doesn’t have the skills to make things happen. 4

Joo Se-jong

TL: Go back and watch the tape – he makes a dumb slide tackle (which Vela just steps around) that led to the 3v2 counter prior to the goal. Never got into any kind of gear. 5

MW: I have been talking about the Ju SJ hype train as I was swayed by a strong performance against Honduras (naive I know). The Ju SJ train failed to get out of the station and really influence this match like I thought he should have. And time is right, he missed a tackle on the 3 v 2 for the Chicharito goal. 4

Ki Sung-yueng

TL: Again didn’t get into second gear. We could have used more incisive passing from him, more urgency, determination. Just too passive. EDIT: And also, he didn’t need to make that forward run with LSW on the pitch. The foul should have been called but he didn’t need to leave the team vulnerable like that after an attacking change. 5.5

MW: He played better than against Sweden. He got some shots off and looked a little better, but how much better? Not substantially better to help win this match. In terms of that second goal Mexico got off the counter, he gets fouled to lose the ball and it’s actually unfortunate for him that the foul wasn’t called. 6

Lee Jae-sung

TL: A couple heavy touches, that one time he dribbled *at* his own defense… but otherwise did use his “poke” and “prod” interventions to try and give Korea some possession… don’t know if he’s showed enough to get looks from Europe. Assist on the goal is nice though. 6.5

MW: I didn’t really notice much about his game other than he has great dribbling skills. He was trying very hard and tracking back a lot but Tim’s right, has he done enough to get a look from European clubs? The jury is still out on that. 7

Moon Seon-min

TL: Popped up everywhere with pace but predictably couldn’t win a take-on and looked gassed at the end. 6.5

MW: He got a surprise start and showed what he offers to this KNT side. It is hustle and tenacity in pressing. You could tell that he got stuck into defense and keeping Mexico at bay as much as he could. The bad? Well, he is not skilled enough at the moment to add anything significant to the KNT attack. I thought that Lee Seung-woo should’ve started in his place. 5

Hwang Hee-chan

TL: Hot and cold. Some very important moments on the counter but he remains a largely imperfect player unable to finish chances or make the right decisions (how did he not tuck away that Marquez howler?). 6.5

MW: I cannot tell you why he elected to pass to Son when 1 v 1 with Ochoa. Was he not confident he could round the keeper/earn a penalty? If he wasn’t that says a lot about his current confidence in his abilities. Every striker/winger with his pace should be confident that he will be able to get that goal 1 v 1. He made the choice to pass to Son, the pass was behind Sonny, and the chance was gone. 4

Son Heung-min

TL: Gorgeous consolation goal but frustrating. Don’t know if it’s his fault (wants to do too much) or the tactics (doesn’t give him much to do)… probably a combination of both. I think we expected more from him today, more moments like that goal, using his teammates more at times… 7

MW: That goal shows the level that Sonny is at in comparison to his teammates. All match, he was trying to find a way to get in a dangerous shot and get a goal but the creative output of his teammates just doesn’t put him in dangerous positions in the same way that he can get at Spurs. He has a great left-footed curling shot and that goal was an absolute peach. Shame he can’t get put into great positions like that more often by his teammates. On the pass from Hwang with an open net, the pass was behind him so he was unable to shoot first-time in stride. Son was by far the most dangerous Korean attacker by miles. 9


Lee Seung-woo

TL: He needs to start a match. Has the spark but not the maturity or composure to change a game on the death in truth. Was a little wasteful. 5.5

MW: He absolutely must start a match. He just needs to get some time to really show the chemistry with the attacking options we have to create more goals. When you sub him on late, he just pushes too hard to create and gets wasteful, as Tim said. He needs to start and just be given the time to really try things out, be creative, dribble at defenders, and take defenders away from Son so that Son has more space to shoot. I absolutely wanted him to start over Moon Seon-min. 6

Jung Woo-young

TL: …why? (Picked up a yellow and didn’t change anything…) 5.5

MW: I am no fan of Jung Woo-young so this one is hard for me. On Son’s goal, Jung did an excellent job of holding off a Mexican defender trying get in a leg for a block. This was good. Other than that, as Tim said, why? 6

Hong Chul

TL: …why? N/A

MW: Yeah, I can’t say anything about his play really. It was a like for like sub and he didn’t add to the match. N/A


Shin Tae-yong

TL: The overall approach was better and we caused Mexico to think twice – that’s not a bad thing. But the final move wasn’t there, and his strange idea to bring on Joo Se-jong and Moon Seon-min was largely unsuccessful. The most infuriating thing today in truth was his substitutions. Changing in a defensive mid and a fullback when you need three goals in a must-win match is unforgivable. On that alone, I regretfully think change is needed yet again. 4.5

MW: This was no Shin Tae-yong sabotage of his players with poor tactics. The approach that the team played with was attacking, exciting, and we went for the win like we had to. However, I said it before the match that he made questionable decisions in his starting XI. Jang Hyun-soo shouldn’t be our starting CB, Lee Yong is not a good RB in this KNT, Ju Se-jong was a gamble that didn’t pay off, and Moon Seon-min offers far less in attack compared to Lee Seung-woo. There was no Wookie so that’s great. But again, he shouldn’t have been selected for this squad anyway.

Now let’s get to substitions. He improved upon his failing last match of waiting far too long to make substitutions. Lee Seung-woo entered the match in the 62nd minute to change the game as a super sub. That’s an improvement. Now for the caveat. Why Ju Se-jong instead of Moon Seon-min? Lee is a RW and that’s where Moon was deployed. Moon had offered little to the attack. For me, the 62nd minute could have been a double sub of Jung and Lee for Moon and Ju. Give both players more time to influence the game than they got. In addition, I would have thrown Koo on instead of Hong Chul. Koo Ja-cheol at least fills the need of that poacher that can put in those last second opportunities that come late in the match. It was a better game from Shin tactically, but personnel-wise he is still poor. He just seems overmatched and at this level, unable to get the best out of this team, and at a loss for words to explain what is going wrong. He is not the right man for the KNT and this whole month of preparations for the World Cup has proven that. 2

About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. My biggest shock is that STY (coach) did not start or use Kim Shin Wook. Seems like STY will use Wook for everything and no matter the circumstance.

    Honestly, the first half was not bad. We were done 1-0 but plenty of game still left and I did like some attacks.

    But STY messes up by going defensive in the last 20 minutes when we needed goals.

    Honestly, if we would have played Sweden like we did against Mexico, we might have even won. But the coach has zero plans, zero ideas, and is an absolute half brain moron. His team selection was like picking the toys from a cereal box, no reasons and no methods, just randomness.

    I am glad the Korean President attended, maybe he saw the feckless 2nd half and will order some changes.

    • Yeah lol I was surprised Kim Shin-wook didn’t play today. Shin Tae-yong clearly doesn’t know how to use him. Instead of Jung WY, I would have played Kim SW. I thought KNT could have used him when Mexico started high pressing towards the end of game and Korea was just punting the ball up the field. Today’s tactics could have been effective against Sweden… 🙁

      Mexico’s 2nd goal should have been disallowed. It looked like Ki was fouled. Not sure VAR could check this since the foul didn’t directly lead to the goal. Not sure this would have made a difference…

      Overall, I’m proud of Korea’s effort. You can’t say they didn’t fight and completely exhaust themselves for a good result. The heat definitely didn’t help.

      • Mike, VAR can cancel that goal and I was watching with family members all screaming for VAR. If the attacking team commits a foul in the buildup to their goal, VAR can be used to correct the call and disallow the goal.

  2. I may not have been watching the same game as you. We fought, and I respect that compared to playing against Sweden, but in my option we looked awful. I never once thought we could win, and only felt like a tie was possible in the seconds after Son’s goal. Mexico simply outclassed us. First give lots of credit to Mexico, and it’s self-reflection time for the KFA.

    Son’s goal- awesome; Son himself maybe not (see below)

    Jo- I know nothing about penalty kicks- unsure if there’s a way he could have been better on both PKs v Sweden and Mexico, but besides that he’s probably been our best and most consistent player. I never thought I would have said that going into this tournament, but good for him. It’d be great if he could get some experience in Europe after this tournament.

    Not positives, but “improvements”:
    Attitude/Shin’s “tactics”- At least we fought, unlike Sweden- seemed like we were trying (this makes me sad to write in the improvement category. Because we were awful- see below)

    Ki- to me, finally looked like a captain. Unafraid of Hernandez early on; strong defensive move at one point and a few good shots that at least gave Ochoa something to think about. Agreed he looks a bit slow and not as good as we want/need him to be though. At least he was noticeable and had impact

    Hwang- had more impact; his energy is good, but still clumsy and indecisive and I think sometimes his energy might hurt his decision-making and fundamentals

    Lee Yong- OK this is a stretch. I’ll just say he was god-awful v Sweden and looked a bit better today. Not saying he had a great game, but his speed was noticeable and his defending looked stronger

    -Sadly Son and Lee Jaesung have been mostly invisible to me in two straight games- though Son had our best chances and his speed looked good, AND obviously a monster goal. Still gotta put him in the negative though because he was shut down for 99% of the game. These teams for the most part scouted him well and their strategy to focus nearly 100% on him has worked perfectly.

    -Too many fouls. This may be the only thing that we’re doing better (right word?) then other teams, and to me it makes us look like one of the worst teams at the WC

    -Lee Seung Woo sadly had zero impact other than contributing to the fouls- maybe our fears were correct and he is indeed a bit too young and too small to contribute right now at the senior level. Some of his moves, bad passes, and falls were honestly a little embarrassing to see (see my final point). Still, good that he got the experience.

    -Substitutions- I hate the Wookie but even I’ll admit he’s a better option than bringing on Hong Chul. His subs made no sense to me, but maybe

    -Jang Hyun Soo- OK. I’m at the point that I worry about his mental health after this game. Jang, I say to you- stay strong and don’t get too low. Drink some soju, fuck a Russian prostitute, and have a good time in your last week in Russia. Maybe try to stay in Russia and play for a club team there. I don’t want to criticize him because he’s getting absolutely decimated right now on social media. I’ll just say that we might go easy on him since there are really not many other options for the position. If you plug another Korean defender into that centerback spot, the results may have been the same or worse. At this point, we gotta criticize the KFA and defensive coaches and system as a whole for allowing our defense to suck for so long. It’s really only evident at this level when we compare our guys to other class defenders and watch them get taken advantage of by stronger teams.

    -Our team looked pedestrian compared to Mexico. I guess most of us suspected this, but hey you gotta hope for the best. Pedestrian fouls, pedestrian attack, pedestrian passing. In games like this, I’m more apt to complain about the quality of our players than Shin Tae Yong’s tactics. The quality of our team is quite low, and it’s evident in this game. SO even though we at least tried and pressed Mexico, they never seemed threatened at all

    For Germany, start Lee Seung Woo to give him more experience! Let these guys enjoy themselves and start building for the future now

    • This comment was too negative. I still love our guys and our team. It’s just kinda hard to watch them these days. The darkest hour is just before the dawn!…
      (but the KFA gods gotta work their asses off and kill the corrupt skies to make sure that sun actually comes out)

      • I believe Germany will beat Sweden. And I believe Mexico will beat Sweden as well. Honestly these results are highly possible. At the end of the day, I believe we’re still in this fight.

        Then all we gotta do is beat Germany.

        “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…”

    • Seeing Son in tears with Moon Jae In. Dammit, sorry for saying you were invisible Son! You had a great game Keep your head up and keep putting your heart on your sleeve.

  3. re kim min woo- he lost the ball on an easy pass leading up to the first goal, and mexico couldn’t capitalize (ofcourse they drew the penalty right after). i would hold him accountable for the pen.

  4. Got to call you out Michael on that 9 rating for CHW. He made one good save and did everything else a good goalie should. Missed the 1v1. But a 9 rating? You gave him that last time. Did he really do everything perfectly / or even as good as against Sweden?

    • At one point he did a goal kick that went straight out of bounds. It was honestly pretty bad. Showed why he can be iffy.
      But against the attack he was still pretty solid which I guess is all we can hope for after Jung Sungryeong. Not sure he had a chance against that second goal

      • didn’t say he should have saved the 1v1, but that would have justified a 9 rating, not a couple claimed crosses and one good (but should make) save

        • Agreed. Again, bar was low, but Jung Sungryeong would’ve missed one of the crosses and got smoked on the one good save CHW had 🙂 My attempts to be positive here!

    • Hello, yes, Cho is a 9. He kept positive the entire match and just displays over and over that he is a leader in goal. I give him a 9 on his leadership and encouragement. You saw that 포기하지마(don’t give up) encouragement he is giving to his defenders. I like DAE GEA. He deserves my praise. Yes he wasn’t as heroic as against Sweden but he continually impresses me in that he makes very good saves that look more like Kim SG saves. Let me expand on this. People say Kim SG is a better shot stopper than Cho Hyun-woo. I don’t know if I believe that at this point. Cho in 2 games has made very good saves. Also, he is infinitely more assured on corners compared to Kim SG. He makes the right decisions to punch or let his defenders head clear. I just like him. He is good.

        • Yeah, difference of opinion. I think his attitude and leadership matter to me. I don’t know exactly why but I just feel like Kim SG just isn’t the same presence in the net as Cho. Different attitudes in there. Not saying Kim SG has a bad attitude or doesn’t encourage his teammates, just am really refreshed by Cho and his command of the box. That’s my definite bias.

  5. Guys, I gotta disagree on Lee Seung Woo. I too thought he should have started, and I get that it is hard to make a huge impact when you come on in the second half already down by 2. He was only able to play about 25 minutes, BUT… in those 25 minutes he was easily shut down by Mexico, the few passes he had were (from what I remember) unsuccessful, and he easily got thrown to the ground twice in the span of about 20 seconds which was clearly visible onscreen and for me a bit gag-worthy.

    Yeah if he had started it could have been different, but based on the time he was on the pitch he would get a 2 or a 3 for me. Maybe I saw something different, just wanna be fair as long as we’re dumping on Jang Hyun Soo and (from me) the Wookie previously.

    Hot damn, Germany just need one more goal to keep us alive. But then when we play them I’d probably watch with my eyes closed.

  6. despite the loss, our approach was more positive than against the Swedes. I cant say Im happy with the result but we went down swinging which is always appreciated and ~ we aren’t out of it yet thanks to result from the Germany/Sweden. Bad news is we gave to beat Germany…

  7. I will be very critical. Korea deserves to lose. What our team showing is everything, but not a football. It is antifootball. Very rude performance from our team. Very hard. Son is doing his best, but the partner are not the same level and it is obvious. In this case, we have the same problem as Argentina – no team game, only the single combat. We need to take an example from the teams, who have real team game, such as Island, Croatia, etc.. But there is one problem – we dont have such players as they have (exept Son).

  8. I’m wondering about the KNT manager situation; the past 2 have been previous youth managers (STY, and HMB) who had quite a bit of success coaching those under teams. Why can’t that translate to the senior level?

    I’ll admit, I had hope for both managers, things looked good. What are they doing wrong? Are they tactically under-formed, did they let the pressure get to them? Especially Hong, I thought he was on the right track…

    Clearly the KNT has so much to work on. The one thing that sticks w/ me the most: other teams, their players aren’t afraid to be responsible for the ball, aren’t afraid to run directly/go 1 on 1, they display confidence in their individual abilities.

    This may just be my impression, but KNT players sometimes seem to treat the ball like a hot potato (& not in a good, tiki-taka way); they get rid of it as soon as possible, shift responsibility to somebody else, like they just know if they try anything they’ll lose possession. And so their passing gives off a desperate vibe, instead of a thoughtful, controlled & confident one.

    Anyway, disappointing, but looking for the bright side, that was such a beautiful goal by Son, wow! 🙂

    • I don’t think either Hong Myung-bo or Shin TY had enough time to prepare for the world cup. Hong took over after the world cup qualifiers. Shin TY clearly seems to be lacking tactically and many other ways. He’s definitely more tactically flexible than Stielike… Hong deserved more time, but Korean netizens turned on him after the real estate controversy and the poor performance at the world cup.

      “treat the ball like a hot potato”
      This has to do with the lack of quality. This is how most lower table teams play when they play the big clubs. At the international level, KNT is weak technically.

      • This may be one of the best arguments for getting as many players into top-flight euro leagues as possible, that way they won’t have this inferiority complex of being “lower table” cuz they already play w/ the best and know that they can hang. This would allow their true abilities to shine, cuz they won’t have that psychological block anymore; a lot of it does seem to be mental.

        • Yes especially KNT’s defenders need experience playing against the best attacking players in the world. Military service is a big roadblock though. I like the idea of getting more opportunities for military exemption(youth competitions, Asian cup,…), which was mentioned an previous article.

          • You can’t just send players to better leagues.. They need to earn their way, and this WC isn’t helping.

            One problem with defenders and GKs that I’m wondering about- verbal communication is crucial. Defenders need to work together with the GK and back each other up, and tell people what to do defending set pieces, and etc etc. I’m not sure they’ll be able to get to better leagues if they don’t speak English/Spanish/French/Italian well; not only the language, but just confidently speaking with guys who aren’t Korean. Whereas midfield and strikers- verbal communication I don’t think is as crucial, just making the plays (obviously a little communication matters). Not saying it isn’t possible, but it’s a little more work

      • I’m not letting Shin off the hook on that one. Other coaches have had less time with more success at the WC. It’s true the turnover rate is not good in the WC, but it actually happens more often than you think. I think a competent coach can still do enough with that much time. But Korea has so many issues right now, for the 2022 WC I agree having less than a year would be disastrous. We need someone to start tackling problems immediately and build towards the World Cup and help the team through adversity.

  9. Honestly, I don’t know what those of you criticizing harshly were watching. I think SK should be proud of that performance. We already knew that they weren’t as talented as Mexico and came out swinging. They certainly did not play negative football, which is what I didn’t like about their first performance. Overall, STY finally got the tactics kind of right. He did what I said SK should’ve been doing even against Sweden, which is play like Mexico with the aggressive counter off a higher press, instead of parking the bus.

    What he got wrong imo was the lineup. LSW totally should’ve started instead of Moon, and I think Ju did little. To say LSW didn’t do anything is false. He was very active in pressuring and did what he could in a short time. It’s so obvious that SHM got more opportunities or at least space with LSW. What I find people underestimating here is that LSW because of his skills and pace forced the defense to be more honest. Even if he wasn’t amazing in his appearance, his presence alone was valuable.

    I don’t get the hating on Ki either. I thought he was very serviceable. You can tell he played better in this role where he was more box to box. Was he great? No. However, overall, he was really the only player that offered anything from the middle of the pitch offensively while STILL taking on pretty heavy defensive responsibilities despite being positioned higher up overall. Sejoong and Wooypung were honestly horrible.

    Cho played extremely well once again at GK. Errant passes does not mean he sucked. He does need to improve in that area, but his presence, positioning, reflexes, and overall play were pretty darn good. His leadership was not bad.

    Of all the players, Hwang was the grayest area in trying to rate for me. He may have been one of the best players in terms of engine and giving SK a penultimate opportunity, a threatening situation, but he coughs it up or makes a bad decision before a goal scoring opportunity can be had. And if somehow he does manage to create one for himself he can’t finish. I’ll say, compared to what the SK pool has to offer, I think I’d still take him, but he had to do better against Mexico.

    As for the backs…
    Jang Hyunsoo. Is he on the team cuz SK has no one better?
    KYG was serviceable, and considering how far he’d fallen off, he did well to recover his rep a bit.
    Lee Yong. Is he on the team cuz SK has no one better?
    Left back. Yea, I know we had no one better.

    I don’t know how I’d rate individuals, but all I wanted in this World Cup was for Korea to play positive football and to their strengths. Where they failed miserably against Sweden, I think they did, in fact, deliver a performance at least worthy of them holding their heads up high. They fought like hell and did play to their limited strengths.

    My hope now? Not advancement, which is way too tall an order. I want them to knock Germany out with at least a tie.

    • I don’t want to be negative. I admire the fighting spirit, for sure. And yes it was better than Sweden. But even Lee Young Pyo said earlier this week, our fighting spirit has carried us in the past but it can’t carry us in the future. We need higher skill-set and a lot of changes if we want to compete at WCs. I agree with what Mike said, it seems like the players treat the ball like hot potato- to me they really don’t look that confident or at all like they are enjoying it.

      The number of fouls is actually what bothered me the most. It’s like the players knew they weren’t good enough and resorted to it. I have to wonder if the KLeague and even Chinese League (looking at you Kim Young Gwon) is more lenient with fouls? Because it actually doesn’t help us and makes our playing style slower and worse at this level.

      I love the players and team and want them to improve but I also want to be honest. Saying they should be proud isn’t gonna really help (though personally criticizing them, talking shit about them without knowing anything or even supporting them between July 2014 and May 2018, and telling them they’re worthless is also not gonna help- which is exactly what is happening on social media and it’s sad.

      I have hope we can improve, but the skill level/enjoyment/confidence today was night and day. Son’s goal was amazing, but if that hadn’t happened, would you still say Korea should be proud of their performance?
      Mexico is good, and I actually hope they do well at this WC- but they aren’t **that** good.

      • Jon, yes, I was saying they should be proud of their performance BEFORE the goal even happened. You can’t argue that they are less skilled and then criticize for not being as skilled. They played positive football and did the best with what they got. And I don’t know how anyone watching the Mexico game can conclude that SK played poorly. The only way one can make that claim is if 1) they played worse than their abilities, which I don’t know how anyone could argue cuz all the ones who plagued poorly are the ones we had low expectations of, and 2) the tactics were all wrong (like against Sweden) and played counter to their own strengths. They didn’t park the bus, they attacked, were aggressive on the counter. Finishing is an issue, but that isn’t new. They lost the possession battle, but… It’s Mexico! And yes, I agree with you Jon on the fouls, being a concession that they aren’t as good as Mexico, but they AREN’T as good as Mexico! Lol. So they did need to slow Mexico down with very physical play. I don’t think the intent was to foul, but rather to be physical. They didn’t really play dirty, some of the fouls were dangerous but the dangerous ones were usually accidental. I forget who here at the Tavern called that before the game, but Korean analysts here, including former players, stated as much, too. Anyway, this game plan was exactly what Mexico did against Germany.

        SK players SHOULD be proud. They worked with what they had And played to their strengths, fought like hell, and STY, despite questionable lineup decisions, at least tactically put SK in a position to compete and be positive. I said before the WC even began that this was all I could hope for this time around. They failed miserably at that in the Sweden match and did well in the Mexico match.

        To conclude, though, I don’t disagree with you and LYP’s assessment about needing more than just fighting spirit, but fighting spirit has been missing with Korea for the last few years, frankly speaking. Furthermore, the improvement of skill is about the big picture, it’s not about the current team. You can expect a lesser skilled team to simply be more skilled.

  10. And to be even clearer, Jon. I agree they weren’t “that” good. But my point is they were as good as THEY can be for the most part.

    • We can agree to disagree. I have watched this team pretty religiously since around 2008 and I do think technically this is the worst bunch I have seen. We have injuries and that’s unfortunate, but even when we were fully healthy it had been that way (Kwon and all our “best” defenders lost to N Ireland and Poland earlier this year).
      But you are right that they were as good as they can be right now- and I appreciate that from the team. But I still feel sad saying that.

      I have also watched *every* game at this World Cup (yes, I have no life), and at this point I have not seen a team play as badly as Korea has (OK, Saudi Arabia has been worse). The quality has just been noticeably lower (I know some of the Tavern guys agree with me…). Not even sure how to explain it- just the eye test, it doesn’t look good. Other losing teams have just looked more competent, just from what I have seen.

      Maybe I misspoke- I don’t want to say they shouldn’t be proud of their performance. I’m glad they weren’t afraid and ran their asses off and did what they could. Also, I don’t want to personally criticize them or say they’re worthless like a lot of shitty people are doing on social media. I know it is very very tough to play at the WC, and just getting to the WC with the way our team has been is a huge accomplishment. But dammit, I love this team and am sick of the downward slide we have been on. I’m gonna be honest that we just ain’t that good. I don’t like to sugarcoat things because that would mean ignoring massive issues. If I didn’t care, I’d probably just say “No problem, you guys tried, happy to see the fight”. I actually want Korea to improve, especially since I’ve invested a lot of time watching them and following the news about them at their clubs, and obviously writing comments here at the Tavern lol. I’m not giving up on them now, but shit’s gotta change.

      Again, I don’t care that we lost. We didn’t look good and that’s the problem. If we had luckily won after a shitty performance, I’d feel the same way deep down. And if we lost after playing great, I’d be proud as hell.

  11. What can I say at this point? Two really disheartening losses. 0 points, 1 goal after 4 years of anticipation. Obviously the players are trying their hardest and they want to play at their best, so it’s tough to blame them. But there are certainly disappointing individual efforts to call out.

    1) How does Jang HS make a slide tackle like that with his arm up to concede a penalty? It was so unnecessary. Just stay on your feet next time.
    2) How does the ref not call that foul on Ki? Yes, some of the KNT players did not do a good job of recovering after the non call. But it’s just such a shame to see the ref miss that.

    A few other observations:
    1) Why does it feel like the KNT only starts to play once down by a goal? Can’t they show that level of urgency at the start of the match? Why can’t they try to score when it is 0-0, rather than 0-1? Attention, STY
    2) It’s amazing how much trouble they have just connecting a string of passes and dribbling it up the field. It felt like such an achievement whenever they were able to advance the ball up the field with passes on the ground. They’re always getting the ball stolen or passing it right to the other team.
    3) LSW may not be polished, and he had his fair share of mistakes. But I at least have confidence in him to be able to dribble it up the field. His passing is not crisp, but he’s at least a threat. I really want to see him start so he doesn’t always come on as a sub, down a goal or two, and playing so frantically.
    4) Should’ve brought Suk or Ji for those moments at the end of a game when you need a goal so you can sub them in rather than a defender or defensive midfielder…
    5) Every team suffers from injuries pre tournament, but the team was really missing Kwon CH today. He has that level of skill in the MF that this team needs. Also, Kim JS would’ve been more useful as our left back (especially on crosses), and I wonder how Kim MJ would’ve paired with Kim YG.

  12. I don’t agree with some of Jon’s points in his original post, but I do agree that the team didn’t play particularly well overall. We seemed to have some good chances in the first 20 minutes. There were Sonny’s 2 chances that were blocked, the Lee Yong chance that was incredibly well defended by Lizano coming back from the blindside. And I think there was one chance that just went over the bar, even though Ochoa looked to be there. And of course, there was Sonny’s chance in the 39th minute down the left wing.

    The PK was completely absurd however. I’d say a few minutes before the PK the Mexicans were coming on. I still do not understand why Jang Hyun Soo had to slide in the box on the handball. He was right there in front of the ball handler! He slid on the ground and had his hand raised when there was no reason to do so. It was comical, bush league and very unprofessional. To me, it demonstrated a lack of understanding of the position, which is pretty scary considering he is a professional in the J League? My god, what utter nonsense that was.

    I didn’t see that much in the 2nd half. There have been other teams like Morocco or Peru that consistently pinned their opposition in their half of the field and created long periods of sustained pressure when behind, but still lost. Australia also did that in their draw against Denmark in the 2nd half. They looked like a team for at least half of the damn game. I saw very little of the sort today from the KMNT. We had chances to score in the 1st half, but the moments are isolated and instantaneous. There’s no consistent buildup of pressure/chances that is making the opponent feel like they are in trouble. Sonny’s goal was ridiculous and amazing, but it’s unfortunate that came so late in the match, and clearly Mexico knew they were going to win several minutes prior.

    To be honest, I thought Mexico were sort of blah at times. I don’t think they are 100% giddy about their performance either, but without question they were the better team, that isn’t debatable. I know a foul could have been called to negate the 2nd goal, but those calls can go either way. The point was the response, which once again, Jang unnecessarily slid, which gave Chicharito an option to pull it back on the right foot. It’s like he learnt how to defend watching the Saudi defenders in the Russia game, crazy.

    The performance was definitely better than against Sweden, but I wasn’t expecting them to beat Mexico. As for Germany, I admit it’s been shocking to see them so flawed in their first 2 matches. But up against major adversity, they pulled it out against Sweden. I do not expect a championship winning team allowing the KMNT to squeeze out a win against them so they don’t qualify to the next round after what’s happened. I’m expecting a fairly one sided scoreline against the KMNT on Wednesday, it could be pretty nasty.

  13. Can’t believe we’re still in mathematically. We just need to beat Germany by 2 goals and Mexico to beat Sweden…(lol)

    Two losses doesn’t sit well for me but I’m proud of our players. I just want our team to play their best football on the last game and leave it all on the field.

  14. What can I say, a lot of people predicted 0 points and 0 goals. We got a goal!

    Look this was always gonna be a tough group, and our team isn’t very good honestly. But if they can gain some experience, hoping they’ll build towards the next World Cup. This whole process should hopefully lead to change

    • Something that bothers me:
      “After the Sweden match, Jang even had to shut down his social media service (SNS) account because of negative, critical comments on his page.

      Some angry fans even filed an online petition to the presidential office, demanding national team officials axe Jang from the squad. Even some media outlets joined the move in calling Jang the main source of problems in South Korea’s recent performances.”

      I and many Tavern writers have been critical about Jang for awhile. In this instance, I actually strangely want to defend him. I’m curious how many of these fans even knew who Jang Hyun Soo was a month ago? My guess is a VERY small percentage. How many of them has seen him play for his club? Or any of the defenders? Or any K League player? Again, a very small percentage. Suddenly they think they have the right to judge these guys while eating chi-maek? They, to me, are the real losers. This ignorance is the reason Jang Hyun Soo is one of our only options. And this blind hatred is probably a reason he plays out of fear of screwing up as opposed to love for the game.

      • Agree completely. Where have those hundreds of fans cheering in the streets today been in the past 4 years? Def not at Kleague matches, and definitely not trying to change the KFA, and definitely not asking for stronger defenders. JHS is no good but we aren’t exactly stacked at defense. If the “fans” actually gave a shit, we might have been developing a better backline

      • So this I agree with. I was planning on commenting on comments tomorrow (tired and there’s so many! yay) but Jang Hyun-soo’s abuse has gone too far. He’s not good for us but his mental situation right now… must be terrible…

  15. I think Jang isn’t good, But completely agree with you LJ. Korean netizens suck.

    Jon, I think you’re misunderstanding my point. I’m saying they looked good for the players we have. Like, do you expect that they are capable of better? I don’t. I haven’t sugarcoated anything. In fact, I think I’m the one that’s now brutally honest, cuz I don’t think they have shown they are capable of more. It seems to me you do think they are. Again, their should be proud, because they played the best of what they are capable of, which to your mind is not good enough, which is fine, but unrealistic considering what we have. I think the only disagreement is that you think that they can do more, and I don’t think they can. If they tie, let alone beat Germany, that would be incredibly lucky and amazing.

    • No I understood your point. And I completely agree with it. I do not expect this group to be better, and don’t think they are capable of more.
      I said “But you are right that they were as good as they can be right now- and I appreciate that from the team. But I still feel sad saying that.”
      I mean we ain’t that good and played with heart but still showed that we ain’t that good. So you and I are agreeing completely, I’m just a lot more depressed about the situation lol

      I appreciate your positivity though. I could use some

  16. No, I understood your point and agree completely. I’ll use your words- I agree completely with you that they aren’t good enough, and sadly they aren’t capable of more. Read what I wrote:
    “But you are right that they were as good as they can be right now- and I appreciate that from the team. But I still feel sad saying that.”
    So they played with heart, and I like that- sounds like we agree with each other that they aren’t any good. The only difference is I’m depressed about that fact lol.

    But I appreciate your positivity. I could use some

    • Fair enough. Yea. I actually am usually the cynical one. But, considering we backed into the tournament to begin with, had a late coaching change, for the last few years had unrealistically high expectations, had played like the weight of the world was on their shoulders, I think they played in the Mexico game like the way I thought they could and should play. I agree, they are still lacking, but for this team I don’t think I can ask for anything more. Now, all that positive-ish stuff said, here’s the depressing thing. I hope my friend is wrong, but he was saying how the talent pool in Korea is not actually getting that much better. Some of this is because of what has been talked about here at the Tavern, like poor infrastructure and K League developmental systems, but he added another thing that was similar to the point made by Steve Han or someone that the SK National team itself isn’t even that popular much these days. He said that the current young crop like LSW and maybe even to LKI can be attributed to the 2002 team’s inspiration, but with the subsequent poor showings, they haven’t really inspired many younger athletes and parents to direct their kids towards soccer. I hope he’s wrong.

  17. Anyone able to make sense of Park Ji Sung’s cryptic comment about improving in the dark places? Maybe re. the KFA or something more existential?

  18. I think the missed slide tackle you guys are attributing to Ju SJ on the 3v2 was actually Lee JS. Ju SJ had already been subbed out when Chicharito scored the second goal.

Join in the Tavern's conversations -Leave a comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.