November 1, 2012
Busy time at the Tavern; I had some post-Hurricane Sandy patch up work to the basement of the Tavern and wandered out to find some newborn size diapers (note: Safeway has a less than stellar selection). Meanwhile, way too many things happening with Koreans playing soccer/football across the globe this week, but somehow we’ll try to tackle as much as we can.
First on the kickaround: on Wednesday, Ulsan Hyundai Horangi defeated Bunyodkor in the 2nd leg of the Asian Champions League Semifinals 2-0 to advance to the Finals. They move on with a 5-1 aggregate score. The Uzbek side had momentum in the first half, but a defensive error led to ‘the Wookie’, Kim Shin-Wook to get on the scoreboard first. Lee Keun-Ho was able to one time a Robinho cross into the Uzbek net. Goalkeeper Kim Young-Kwang was huge for Ulsan, getting some critical saves to keep a clean sheet. They will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in Ulsan’s Munsu Stadium on November 10th for the Finals.
Wednesday also saw Koreans Ki Sung-Yeung and Park Chu-Young in midweek Cup action. Ki and Swansea defeated Liverpool 3-1, a rude Cup sendoff to ex-Swansea manager Brendan Rogers. Swansea v 2.0 was able to dominate with style, while Liverpool could only muster a passing resemblance to Swansea’s ball controlling swagger. Ki had 2 solid shots, but again, no cigar. Nevertheless, his 90+ minute performance as one of Swansea’s midfield bosses assisted in ushering along Liverpool out of running for the Cup. Meanwhile Park Chu-Young also went 90 minutes in Celta Vigo’s Spanish Cup quest against second tier La Liga B outfit Almeria. The outcome wasn’t as favorable however, Celta went on the losing end of a 2-0 outing. According to SportalKorea correspondent and blogger Santiago Perez, “He had a couple of good plays, but either the keeper or bad timing when connecting with De Lucas prevented Celta from taking anything out of those plays.” Otherwise it was a quiet and disappointing performance for Park and for his Celta Vigo teammates. More on Perez’s match report can be found here on his blog site, Rainmaker18.com. Some more bad news: Samuel Llorca sustained a knee injury, and he is likely to miss Saturday’s match against Barcelona at Camp Nou. Boss Paco Herrera will have some central defense shuffling to manage against the likes of Messi, Xavi, Villa, Tello, Pedro, Iniesta (Barca’s offensive options are giving me carpal tunnel syndrome, so I’ll cap the list here).
Quick Ji Dong-Won update, his Sunderland side continues their lack of progress, losing 1-0 to second tier Middlesbrough on Tuesday – and once again is left off the 18 man roster. Ji seems to have dropped off Martin O’Neil’s radar. And yet the fact remains: Steven Fletcher is the only goalscorer for the Blackcats, making them essentially a one-Fletcher-pony team. His [and thus the entire team’s] total scoring output to date: just 5 goals. Their late August Tottenham acquisition, Louis Saha, has so far drawn blanks. Ji did appear in a U-21 reserve match for Sunderland today, his side winning 2-0 against Aston Villa. Ji had a few opportunities to score, but his teammate Conner Wickham registered the brace.
Got a family mini-emergency (nothing too serious) so I’ll come back to adding to the post later today. Obviously the big event today is left back Lee Young-Pyo and his Vancouver Whitecaps team steeling itself for a one game Western Conference knockout match with the LA Galaxy. They made a bit of history by becoming the first Canadian team to reach the MLS playoffs. They square off against David Beckham and company in Las Angeles tonight at 10:30 pm EST. TV in the US is on NBC Sports Network // in Canada they are on TBN. The former Taeguk Warrior and current 2012 Player of the Year for the Whitecaps is nearing a decision whether to stay or retire next season. I’m not going to jinx it by saying it could be his last match – the Tavern will do no such thing. The Tavern will instead send good wishes of luck and fortune to one of the last few remaining veterans of the legendary 2002 World Cup Quarterfinalist South Korean side.
Back to Korea and excitement down below…no not that kind of excitement (you cheeky monkey) –yesterday K-Talk blog posted fascinating developments as the K-League is preparing to relegate teams for the first time in it’s 29 year history. Earlier this year, they implemented an innovative mid year split in the table (modeled after the Scottish Premier League). One team certain to be relegated will be the South Korean Army team. Here’s K-Talk to explain further: “In August, the KFA announced their decision to automatically relegate Sangju Sangmu, a team consisting of soldiers under Korea’s mandatory army service, meaning one of the two relegated spots is already taken.” Apparently they’ve protested the decision by forfeiting the rest of their remaining matches this season. In a separate post, K-Talk talks about the Asian Football Confederation rules mandating Sangju Sangmu’s relegation, all wrapped up with an interesting look back on the history of the K-League on the eve of this ambitious change -you can find that all here. If the MLS were to relegate teams, perhaps to NASL, that would certainly be a radical venture for any US based sports league. If, for example, the Yankees were to be relegated to the minor leagues -wow —that’s just blowing my mind. Anyway, for more on K-Talk’s prognosis for the potentially relegated, look to here.
Which veers us slightly off target this week as I saw this in my twitter feed:
— EPL Talk (@epltalk) November 1, 2012
Apparently there was an epic battle won surprisingly by NBC Sports Network for the rights to air English Premier League matches next season in the United States. For many years, Fox Soccer (with some limited ESPN partnership) has been slowly growing US appetites for English football (as opposed to the American brain injuring kind). As EPL Talk blog speculates, NBC Sports production values may help elevate the game to a wider US viewership. The Tavern is somewhat relieved that the EPL will be broadcast by a slightly less evil multinational corporation than the current Rupert Murdoch scandal-riven, right-wing propaganda-‘news’ biased media empire . But why bring this up? Korean Americans, along with the rest of the US population, proportionately ignores soccer over American football. That is changing however, and every step to advance the sport in the US gives a chance for Korean ex-pats and second & third generation Korean Americans alike to join the rest of the planet in appreciating the art that is international football -and in turn, discover the world associated with the Taeguk Warriors. With missionary-like zeal, the Tavern is eyeing these developments closely. Future deviations may include the gospel of Taeguki Football according to the Tavern…
We will soon-as-a-toki get a preview of this weekend’s matches, including a possible Park Chu-Young appearance at Camp Nou as Celta Vigo go head to head with Barcelona on Saturday -and what’s that — Ki Sung-Yeung and his Swansea side squaring off against Chelsea? Cheese and Crackers, there’s also a Korean Derby: Lee Chung-Yong & Bolton vs top of the English Championship table Cardiff & Kim Bo-Kyung! Lee Chung-Yong (aka the Blue Dragon) managed to become the first Korean this season to score on English soil. Ki and Kim are bound to sooner or later. Now if I can manage to juggle diaper changes for my 7 day old infant with editing a first ever podcast for the Tavern -giving an insider’s take on Kim Bo-Kyung’s performances with Cardiff -we might get that all out for you by Friday. In the meantime, we count the fat buddha’s blessings that the damage to the Tavern wasn’t too bad. Peace.