Oh yeah, there are still club matches going on this weekend. Something that got lost in between the call-ups announcement for the last qualifiers and all the transfer rumors that have started to spread like the common cold. But, anyway, onwards!
* for easier reading, national team players are written in bold. Game times are in US Eastern Standard / Korea Time. Broadcasting is listed for US, Streaming should be available worldwide.
Jae’s Match of the Week – FC Augsburg vs Greuther Furth 9:30 am / 10:30 pm Saturday
There aren’t too many highly interesting matches this week, save one. Augsburg versus Greuther Furth. Now, a bottom of the table match might not seem terribly interesting, but this match could feature three Korean players. Ji Dong-Won will certainly start for Augsburg, while Koo Ja-Cheol made his return to competitive action last week against Bayern Munich (Augsburg lost that one 3-0), coming on as a sub in the 65th minute. Greuther Furth has Park Jung-Bin, on-loan from Wolfsburg. Park hasn’t played much lately for Greuther, but could appear. Park came on as a late sub last week against Freiburg (84th minute). If you believe in the press, German magazine Kicker says that Park will be on the bench, while Bild says that he will start.
This game, of course, means much more to Augsburg than it does to Greuther. Greuther is already relegated back to the Bundesliga 2, while if Augsburg can better the result of Cha Du-Ri’s old club, Fortuna Dusseldorf, they would escape from the relegation play-off spot. The other game Augsburg fans will be keeping an eye on, is that of Hoffenheim, who are two points behind Ausgburg. In a worst-case scenario, a Hoffenheim win, coupled with an Augsburg loss, would see Augsburg drop into the other automatic relegation spot. Such a scenario is highly unlikely though, as Hoffenheim has the unenviable task of heading to Dortmund for their final game. Dortmund may opt to rest a number of their star players with next week’s Champions League final encounter with Bayern Munich in mind. Nonetheless, Dortmund should have the quality to see off Hoffenheim, so the two matches to keep an eye on are Augsburg-Gruether Furth and Dusseldorf-Hannover 96.
Swansea vs Fulham Sunday 11 am / Monday 12 am (Ki Sung-Yueng, Swansea): It’s the final weekend of the Premier League season too. Unlike last season, there is little excitement going into the final weekend. United have wrapped up the title, all three relegation teams have been decided, and the only interest left is which north London team will take the final Champions League spot, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge of Manchester United. Swansea is assured a top 10 finish, and Fulham is safe from relegation. Ki Sung-Yueng is still out, and is probably more focused on his upcoming wedding to actress Han Hye-Jin (since he’s also out of the remaining qualifying matches). Congratulations to Swansea and Ki Sung-Yueng on a wonderful season.
Liverpool vs QPR Sunday 11 am / Monday 12 am foxsoccer2go.com / tape at 6:30 pm EST on Fox Soccer. (Park Ji-Sung, Yoon Suk-Young, QPR): QPR will head to Merseyside to take on Liverpool, in what will be the final game for Liverpool great Jamie Carragher. Liverpool will want to see him off with a win, and QPR should be perfect fodder for it. Like most other teams, Liverpool and QPR have nothing to play for. Liverpool is guaranteed 7th place and another year of “rebuilding”, while QPR will be last barring a miraculous win at Anfield and a Reading loss at West Ham. Park Ji-Sung has been making sporadic appearances, while Yoon Suk-Young continues to do his best disappearing act (seriously has anyone seen him?).
*Reminder the Championship season is over, so Kim Bo-Kyung and Lee Chung-Yong are done for the club season.
Celta Vigo is not in action this weekend. The match that had been scheduled for Round 36 (versus Atletico Madrid) had been moved a week earlier (Atletico won 3-1) due to Atletico’s Copa Del Rey final commitment (not Korea-related, but Atletico won sniff, sniff). Celta still has an outside shot at escaping relegation, but will certainly need all six points from their final two matches against Valladolid and Espanyol, along with some help from Zaragoza and rivals Deportivo. Celta is more noteworthy this week, as the coach Abel Resino made a very controversial statement that he knew of a La Liga match this weekend that will be fixed. While the news, if true, is not particularly surprising, it is a bit odd to hear a head coach say it so directly in a press conference. I suppose we need to keep our eyes peeled for strange matches around the relegation zone.
*See the above game of the week
Olhanese vs Maritimo 11 am Saturdary / 12 am Sunday (Suk Hyun-Joon, Maritimo): Maritimo will head to Olhanese on Monday. Suk Hyun-Joon has entered a bit of a goal drought, but he is still starting regularly and lasting the whole game.
FC Basel is not in action this week. Basel has a 6 point lead at the top of the table with three games remaining. Park Joo-Ho missed out on a potential European piece of silverware, but may get another domestic title.
MLS, Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers 7 p.m. Direct Kick, MLS Live. Lee Young-Pyo has been putting in some monster time for Vancouver.
Suwon Samsung vs Jeju United (Jung Sung-Ryeong, Suwon): A near top of the table clash. Suwon has been a bit up and down after starting the season strong. Currently 3rd, but have a game in hand on Pohang (1st) and Jeju (2nd). Jeju is a team that continues to boggle the mind a bit. A lovely place, but not exactly a footballing haven. Yet the past few seasons Jeju has always been around the top. Jung Sung-Ryeong is the only NT player playing this match.
Pohang Steelers vs Ulsan Hyundai (Lee Myeong-Joo, Hwang Ji-Soo, Shin Kwang-Hoon, Pohang; Kim Young-Kwon, Kim Shin-Wook, Ulsan): I’m not sure if Pohang and Ulsan are actually rivals, but in my mind they are. Both cities are on Korea’s east coast, and are built around fishing and industry. Pohang remains top of the table, and are the only undefeated team in the KLC with 6 wins and 5 draws. Ulsan, sit fourth and are 5 points behind Pohang. Plenty of NT players in this one, with eyes mainly on the three Pohang players who may all feature in the upcoming qualifiers, particularly Lee Myeong-Joo.
Incheon United vs Gangwon (Kim Nam-Il, Incheon): After starting the season on fire, Incheon has cooled somewhat and has dropped down to 5th place. Still well within striking distance of the top, they should get a boost, and a win over a struggling Gangwon side. Gangwon, to their credit, did pick a somewhat surprise win over Seongnam last week, their first of the season. In the vein of surprises, Kim Nam-Il was recalled into the national fold this week. Incheon’s defensive midfielder will certainly have a few more eyes on him this week to see if he’s still got it.
Daegu vs Daejeon Citizens: I’m not quite sure what to expect from this game. Combined Daegu and Daejeon have a record of 1-8-13, have scored 16 goals, and conceded 43. 0-0 seems a safe bet, but with two leaky defenses goals may come. It’s also quite possible that Daejeon will explode for goals and rout Daegu. Who knows? Daegu is still looking for their first win (the only KLC team not to win yet).
Seongnam Ilhwa vs Gyeongnam 3 a.m. One World Sports *Broadcast in the US.: After a terrible start, seven time champions Seongnam made a charge up the table, beating several tough sides. Then they ran into some bottom of the table sides (and Pohang) and decided to lose, dropping them back down. Gyeongnam meanwhile has been the team that loves to draw matches (six out of ten), and as such is quite firmly rooted in the middle of the table. Seongnam seems to be a team that plays to the level of it’s opposition, so a draw would seem to be in order here.
*Jeonbuk Motors vs Busan IPark and FC Seoul vs Chunnam Dragons have been rescheduled for June 1, I believe, due to Jeonbuk’s and Seoul’s ACL Champions League matches. Unfortunate for Jeonbuk and Busan who will both likely lose their top Korean players (Lee Dong-Gook and Lee Seung-Gi for Jeonbuk, and Park Jong-Woo and Lee Bum-Young for Busan) who have all been called up for Korea’s World Cup qualifying match against Lebanon, which is on June 4 in Lebanon. FC Seoul would also likely lose defender Kim Chi-Woo to the NT as well.
FC Anyang vs Korean Police
Chungju vs Gwangju
Goyang Hi vs Bucheon 1995
Suwon City vs Sangju Sangmu (Lee Keun-Ho, Sangju Sangmu)
Japan (all Korean players are listed, national team call-ups are in bold)
Albirex Niigata vs Oita Trinita (Kim Jin-Soo, Kim Kun-Hwan, Albirex; Kim Jung-Hyun, Choi Jung-Han, Oita)
Jubilo Iwata vs Kawasaki Frontale (Jung Woo-Young, Baek Sung-Dong, Jubilo)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Ventforet Kofu (Hwang Seok-Ho, Park Hyung-Jin, Lee Dae-Heon, Sanfrecce; Choi Sung-Keun, Ventforet)
Kashiwa Reysol vs Cerezo Osaka (Kim Chang-Soo, Kashiwa; Kim Jin-Hyun, Gu Sung-Yoon, Cerezo):
Yokohama F. Marinos vs Vegalta Sendai (Jung Dong-Ho, Yokohama)
Omiya Ardija vs Shonan Bellmare (Cho Young-Cheol, Omiya; Kwon Han-Jin, Han Kook-Young, Shonan)
Urawa Reds vs Sagan Tosu (Yeo Sung-Hye, Kim Min-Woo, Sagan)
FC Tokyo vs Shimizu S-Pulse (Jang Hyun-Soo, Tokyo; Lee Ki-Je, Lee Min-Soo, Shimizu)
Dubai vs Al Shabab (Kwak Tae-Hwi, Al Shabab)
Bani Yas vs Al Jazira (Shin Hyung-Min, Al Jazira)
Random Transfer News
It’s a bit silly, but Chosun Ilbo (via goal.com) is reporting that AS Monaco will make a move to restore the former three friends of Manchester United. That would be Carlos Tevez, Patrice Evra, and Park Ji-Sung. Tevez and Evra wouldn’t be terribly surprising. Tevez is still highly rated (despite his recent struggles and problems) while Evra is a former Monaco player. Park Ji-Sung though, is a bit odd. Goal.com’s article says that Monaco sees Park as an “elite-level midfielder”, which given his struggles with QPR seems a bit out of place. But then it also says that Park’s “popularity in Asia brings significant commercial income to employers.” This statement would seem to be a more likely reason (if it’s true, which is highly doubtful), as I haven’t seen an explosion of QPR related merchandise here in Korea.