The second tier of the K League is back, Son goes to Schalke after a heartbreaking Champions League exit, and much more. Let’s get cracking.
|Saturday||10:30 AM||Hong Jeong Ho||Augsburg||@Freiburg||None|
|Saturday||10:30 AM||Ji Dong Won||Augsburg||@Freiburg||None|
|Saturday||10:30 AM||Kim Jin Su||Hoffenheim||@SC Paderborn||None|
|Saturday||11:00 AM||Lee Chung Yong||Crystal Palace||@Stoke City||NBC Extra Time|
|Saturday||11:00 AM||Ki Sung Yueng||Swansea||@Aston Villa||NBC Extra Time|
|Saturday||11:00 AM||Kim Bo Kyung||Wigan||Bolton||None|
|Saturday||1:30 PM||Son Heung Min||Bayer Leverkusen||@Schalke||GolTV|
|Sunday||10:30 AM||Koo Ja Cheol||Mainz||Wolfsburg||GolTV|
|Sunday||10:30 AM||Park Joo Ho||Mainz||Wolfsburg||GolTV|
|Sunday||12:00 PM||Yun Suk Young||QPR||Everton||NBC Extra Time|
|Monday||4:00 PM||Suk Hyun Jun||Vitoria Setubal||Pacos De Ferreira||None|
Hong Jeong-ho is still unfit to play, while Ji Dong-won could get a start.
Kim Jin-su should definitely start. A story came out in the Korean papers (very subtly, was on the last page of Naver’s “Domestic football” headline bar) of Hoffenheim being upset at Kim Jin-su’s call up, stating that Kim was tired and that they were concerned about his cumulative fatigue, stemming from the Asian Games, the Asian Cup (and he played a key role in both tournaments, mind you) and playing an important role for Hoffenheim. Stielike was adamant and replied that he “cannot make exceptions for one player” for fear of setting a precedent.
Lee Chung-yong still recovering from injury. Not this week but his Crystal Palace debut is surely looming.
Ki Sung-yueng should start at Aston Villa.
Kim Bo-kyung is being bumped around from wide midfielder, to forward, to center midfielder. It seems like wherever he plays he’s doing well at a Wigan side who are desperate for points to avoid relegation (they are 22nd/24 teams now, 6 points behind Fulham for safety).
Speaking of which, whoa. Fulham were in the Premier League last year and they are hovering above the relegation spots?! The difference a year makes…
Koo Ja-cheol and Park Joo-ho are both likely to get a start – Koo is on some great form including his excellent goal last week – his first since the season opener – while Park Joo-ho is being used more as a leftback for Mainz. They go to a Wolfsburg side who have that man Bas Dost.
Yun Suk-young will probably start vs Everton for the R’s, who are also in a relegation battle with a quarter of the season to go. He hasn’t been hitting that early-season form but there doesn’t seem to be a really contender for his spot right now in the lineup.
Ryu Seung-woo and Eintracht Frankfurt host 2.Bundesliga-leading Ingolstadt on 8am EDT Saturday. Ryu started the last game but was subbed off on 69 minutes.
Middle East Update
With Al-Nassr and undefeated Al-Ahli leading the Saudi Pro League and looking hard to catch with 7 matchdays to go, Kwak Tae-hwi’s Al-Hilal would be simply content right now at getting themselves into the Asian Champions League. A 3rd place finish would suffice, but they chase Al-Ittihad. With the latter looking likely to pick up three points at relegation contender Al-Khaleej this weekend, Al-Hilal would hope for a win to keep pace against Al-Shabab. A crucial game. Can Kwak play a major part? (Sunday, 11.45am EDT/Monday 12.45am KST)
It’s the home stretch in Qatar for the Qatari Stars League. Lekhwiya and Nam Tae-hee, fresh off of a 1-0 victory in Uzbekistan in their difficult Asian Champions League group, take on Al-Arabi. A victory would go a long way to secure the team’s latest league title. (Sunday, 11am EDT/Monday 12am KST)
Qatar SC (Han Kook-young, Cho Young-cheol) and El-Jaish (Lee Keun-ho) are both battling for third place. Qatar SC are on 40 points and host Al Kharitiyath (Friday, 1.15pm EDT/Saturday 3.15am KST) while El-Jaish trail by two and go to relegation contenders Al Shahaniya. (Sunday, 11am EDT/Monday 12am KST).
Al-Ain of the UAE (Lee Myeong-joo) lead their AFC Champions League group and the Arabian Gulf League with 7 rounds to go as well. It’s imperative that the side stay on course to secure progression and a victory in the league. They visit the originally named Emirates Club this weekend. Lee is getting starts as a defensive midfielder. (Sunday, 9.40am EDT/Monday 10.40pm KST).
K League Classic Round 3 Previews
Ulsan Hyundai v Jeonnam Dragons – Saturday 1am EDT/2pm KST
Ulsan currently lead the league (after two games, granted) and look very good value for 3 points in this one. Their midfielders are shining, with Tarta making the most of the space that Djeparov creates for him, and their defensive midfield pairing of Ha-Masuda is surely one of the best in the league. Jeonnam’s offense seems to have their moments including Lee Jong-ho and Ahn Young-woo, and their seasoned defenders are no walkover. I suspect Ulsan can still get the win at home. The Verdict: 2-0 to Ulsan
Busan I’Park v Gwangju – Saturday 1am EDT/2pm KST
Currently 4th and 3rd in the league, Busan and Gwangju are both undefeated with wins over Daejeon and draws in their back pockets. Busan’s star player so far has been Joo Se-jong, acting as the main deep lying playmaker in a 3-5-2. Gwangju’s Kim Ho-nam was named the K League player of the round last weekend and has been a handful to deal with off of the wing. Both teams look like they can come away from a point in this one. The Verdict: 1-1 draw
Jeju United v Daejeon Citizen – Saturday 3am EDT/4pm KST
Jeju have been their average selves, with two draws to start the year. Daejeon are still waiting for their first shot on target, and really only have had one scoring chance in 180 minutes of football. Jeju’s pace in attack will expose the Daejeon centre-backs, who have been very poor in the air and giving up far too many chances. There have been at least two occasions where Oh Seung-hoon (the GK) has had to give his best Neuer impression – and the line wasn’t high either, the center backs just aren’t getting back in time. Jeju should pick up the win. Hopefully Daejeon can get a shot on target though. The Verdict: 1-0 to Jeju
Pohang Steelers v FC Seoul – Sunday 1am EDT/2pm KST
Park Chu-young? You ask? Sounds like his return won’t quite be this weekend, but it’s not clear. Nonetheless, this is a battle of two powerhouses who haven’t had a great start to the season. Pohang’s defense and goalkeeper had a mare last weekend in the derby, while FC Seoul have scored 2 goals in 5 K League or ACL round proper games this year. Attacking football? Really? The Verdict: 2-0 to Pohang
Seongnam FC v Suwon Bluewings – Sunday 1am EDT/2pm KST
Seongnam have yet to score in the K League but control their own destiny in their ACL group. Suwon are in a fight with Brisbane for the 2nd spot in the group, with Seo Jung-jin and Jong Tae-se playing well, but their defense was awful. They also struggled against Incheon midweek, needing a last second goal. I’m calling a slight upset as Seongnam should be able to force Suwon into a draw. The Verdict: 1-1
Note for Suwon: expect some rotation. Many of their players were absolutely gassed after the trip down to Australia and a tough 90 minutes there. New KNT callup Kim Eun-sun had to be taken to hospital.
Incheon United v Jeonbuk Hyundai – Sunday 3am EDT/4pm KST
Incheon haven’t been poor to start the season for the sheer amount of players that left the team in the year, while Jeonbuk have been cruising in the ACL and in the League. There doesn’t seem to be a second season struggle for this incredibly deep and well organized Green Machine. The Verdict: 3-1 to Jeonbuk
Transfer note – Daejeon has signed a 4th division Brazilian player Sassa for their final foreigner spot.
K League Challenge Round 1
The 2nd tier is back and it features one of the most stacked Sangju sides in recent history, an Ansan Police squad who didn’t get many players joining their ranks as they had hoped, Seoul E-Land making their debut (although they have a bye week this round) and very competitive battle for promotion.
Bucheon-Daegu (Saturday 1am/2pm) Daegu’s Cho Na-han is expected to be one of the top scorers in the league and Daegu should hope to battle for a playoff spot this year. Bucheon… no.
Anyang-Suwon FC (Saturday 1am/2pm) Anyang have made some interesting foreign signings including Philadelphia Union player Austin Berry.
Sangju-Gangwon (Saturday 3am/4pm) Sangju are a deep side that are favorites for promotion. Gangwon could make the playoffs this year.
Chungju-Goyang (Sunday 12.30am/1.30pm) Neither side should make any headlines in the league this year.
Gyeongnam-Ansan Police (Sunday 3am/4pm) Newly relegated Gyeongnam are obviously favorites to come right back up, while Ansan’s manager has admitted the talent in the squad will be difficult to work with in a deep league. Lee Yong-rae is still at Ansan, FYI.
And that’s all I can think can for this Friday night. Jalgayo from the TSQ and COME ON DAEJEON!