As expected, only got two games in: Ulsan Hyundai vs Busan IPark and Suwon Samsung vs FC Seoul. Wasn’t able to catch the J League match due to a slightly sick baby. But enough chit-chat. Let’s talk football!
Ulsan Hyundai vs Busan IPark
Not too many NT players on show here, but a few players who are on the fringes. Kim Shin-Wook for Ulsan, and Park Jong-Woo and Lee Bum-Young for Busan. Ulsan keeper, and our regular number 2, Kim Young-Kwon is still out due to injury. The game itself wasn’t the most gripping of occasions. Ulsan controlled much of the match, but lacked any real cutting edge threat to break down a decent Busan side. Busan countered better than they have thus far in the young season, but lacked a true striker to convert the half chances they created. The result was a 0-0 draw, that will suit Busan more then Ulsan. Here’s my review of each player:
Kim Shin-Wook: I still cannot truly understand why he’s given such stature with the NT. Granted Lee Dong-Gook is old and fading, and Park Chu-Young is in terrible form (and Choi Kang-Hee doesn’t seem to like him), but Kim Shin-Wook isn’t much other then tall. He’s never been a prolific striker. Last season was his best goal return of 13 in 35. Not outstanding for the K League. Surely the likes of Son Heung-Min and Ji Dong-Won deserve more of a look than Kim Shin-Wook? Ji Dong-Won is younger, has better overall skills, and already has more caps and goals than Kim Shin-Wook. But, anyway, I digress.
Couldn’t find highlights that were embeddable, but here’s a link to the highlights on Naver.
In this one match, Kim Shin-Wook didn’t play particularly well. He offered some decent aerial challenges, and troubled the Busan center backs at times in the air. But he didn’t offer much in terms of attack positioning or threats from open play. Kim can still serve a role with the NT, but as a role/bench player. Someone who comes on late in games when he need a goal, and a tall player to launch the ball up to, but that’s about it. Rating: 5.5
Park Jong-Woo: Those who have followed me both on SKSB and TotTW know that I am a Park Jong-Woo fan. I do think it’s slightly criminal that the likes of Shin Hyung-Min and Ha Dae-Sung are called while Park Jong-Woo is not. Last season he was largely restricted to being a pure defensive player. Sitting deep, and breaking up play, and that was about it. This season with the more open, attack-minded Yoon Hyo-Sung in charge, Park Jong-Woo has been given more license to be a box-to-box, energetic midfield. Certainly he’s been Busan IPark’s best player by far this season. Almost all positive attacking moves involve him in some way. Against Ulsan, he still helped out defensively, but also provided some nice attacking passes. The one pass that really sticks out in my mind is a wonderful through ball he provided to Rodrigo (whose resulting first time shot forced a good save). Park Jong-Woo should definitely be at least included in the senior side. Rating 6.5
Lee Bum-Young: Surprisingly, of the two goal keepers, Lee Bum-Young was the less busy one. That being said, he did relatively well. He commanded the area pretty well, with Ulsan putting a lot of crosses and corners. He still seems a bit unsure at times about when he should aggressively come out, and tends to play a bit conservatively. Which isn’t too much of a problem, but as he continues to play and grow, it’d be good to see him develop that aspect of his game. Lee Bum-Young made one great save right at the end of the game to deny Ulsan the three points. Diving to his right to parry a powerful volley. I don’t think he’s quite ready to challenge Jung Sung-Ryong for the number 1 shirt, but maybe one day. Rating: 6.0
Suwon Samsung vs FC Seoul
As I mentioned in the preview, there aren’t too many current starters of the NT playing for Suwon or Seoul, but there were plenty of former and fringe players. Regardless, the so-called “super match” is usually a fun affair, as long as you don’t have any horses in the race, which I don’t. Suwon went 4-4-2, while Seoul when 4-4-1-1. Suwon left Radoncic on the bench, while Seoul left Molina on the bench. Cha Du-Ri started his first match since signing for Seoul at right back. And before the game officially kicked off, fans were treated to the lovely Kim Yeona performing the ceremonial kick.
Seoul started off the brighter of the two teams, while Suwon looked a bit overwhelmed, which was slightly surprising given the two teams’ starts to the season. Cha Du-Ri in particular looked eager to impress (he was roundly booed every time he touched the ball by Suwon fans, jilted a bit perhaps). He started brightly. With a nice dribble to beat the Suwon defense, and then a perfectly weighted chipped cross to Dejan, who shot over (and should have done better). Dejan would make amends later, as he scored the opener. Seoul was finding lots of space on the counter, and Dejan slotted home well. Jung Sung-Ryong couldn’t do much about it. Dejan was fairly center of the goal, with plenty of time and space. Things looked to be in the bag for Seoul as Jung Tae-Se was sent off at the end of the first half for a second bookable offense. An idiotic hack on Seoul’s goalkeeper as he picked up the ball. Everything looked to be going Seoul’s way, for both a first win for the season and to end their winless streak against Suwon.
Yet, it was Suwon who controlled the second half. Seoul made the increasingly common mistake (in my view) that teams who are leading with a man advantage make. They sat back and didn’t pressure Suwon. Instead of “going for the jugular”, and scoring a second and third goal, Seoul seemed content to see out the game with their one goal advantage. This allowed Suwon to grow, and create threatening chances, particularly from set pieces. The goal finally came right at the end. Stevica Ristic crossed for the subbed in Radoncic who headed home. Cha Du-Ri, after impressing early, was at fault for the goal. Failing to pick up his man at the far post. The game ended 1-1, and extended Seoul’s winless run against Suwon to 9 games.
Some thoughts on players who are in or are around the national team. Jung Sung-Ryong remains a slight worry for me. While he’s still easily the best option we have in goal, his performances seem fairly predictable, and he also seems to have peaked. Jung pretty routinely deals with the simple saves, but can’t get the slightly more difficult ones. He seems anonymous for large parts, but then can’t get it together to make the sudden saves. I think he does need to seek a move abroad if he is going to improve as a goalkeeper. Seo Jung-Jin was involved in the latter stages of Cho Kwang-Rae’s tenure, and he showed at times why he was. Capable of performing a nice dribble here and there, but fairly inconsistent, and his final deliveries were subpar. I don’t think he should be involved as we have plenty of wide players who are better options.
Ha Dae-Sung put in another ‘meh’ performance. I really can’t see why he continues to be called other then experience. He doesn’t have the energy, passing ability, or defensive ability to really make an impact at the international level. I don’t think that Cha Du-Ri will ever get called again, but his offensive ability brought back some memories of better days. At fault for Suwon’s equalizer, but it’s partially understandable given his lengthy time away from competitive action and that he was used as a midfielder by Dusseldorf.
Did you watch either Busan vs Ulsan or Seoul vs Suwon? Have any thoughts about the national team players involved? Are there any players that you think should be involved with the national team who aren’t? Let us know in the comments.
This post will (hopefully) be updated later with some video highlights.