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FC Seoul 0-0 Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i: Recap

Last week FC Seoul did not play a league game so they could focus on their game against Gamba Osaka.  It really did not do a lot of good though since they lost 3-2 and were eliminated from the AFC Champion's League on aggregate (6-3).  Now, after a disheartening midweek loss that was not unexpected, the team must regain their focus and begin to play well in the league.  Ulsan came to visit on Sunday, and with both teams tied on points the league being so close from positions two to ten, this was a game neither team could afford to lose.  

According to the K-League website and Facebook, FC Seoul set up in a 3-4-3 formation.  Yu Sang-hoon returned to the goal after sitting against Gamba Osaka midweek.  In the back were Lee Woong-hee, Osmar, and Kim Dong-woo.  The midfield, from right to left, were Cha Du-ri, Park Yong-woo, Koh Myong-jin, and Kim Chi-woo.  Finally, the front three were Yun Il-lok, Yun Ju-tae, and Park Chu-young.  

As I mentioned, the K-League website and Facebook had Seoul in a 3-4-3, but it seemed as if Seoul were playing in more of a Barcelona style 4-4-3.  When Seoul had the ball, Osmar was oftentimes far up the pitch and Park Yong-woo, like Sergio Busquets, would play between the defenders Lee Woong-hee and Kim Dong-woo.  I mention this because I thought it was an interesting tactical tweak from Choi Yong-soo, although it still feels as though Seoul are too defensive.  

Anyways, for a game that finished nil-nil, it was fairly entertaining.  Both teams got up and down the pitch, but neither could do anything in the final third as moves stalled out on both ends.  As with 2014 and all season long this year, Seoul continue to struggle to create anything offensively.  I think I counted four or five shots for Seoul, with the rest of their opportunities coming from set pieces.  

Ulsan was the better team in the first half.  They had the ball more often and were pushing to score, but luckily they failed to create anything of consequence.  Ulsan's best moves came from the left side as Filip Kasalica and former FC Seoul player Djeperov linked up well.  

Ulsan's first chance came in the 16th minute.  Seoul's keeper Yu Sang-hoon did well to punch out a Djeperov free kick.  In the 30th minute, Djeperov had a glorious chance to score from a lofted ball over the top of the defense but couldn't get his volley on target and it ballooned over the top.  Ulsan's best chance to score was in the 34th minute.  Yang Dong-hyun shot from the right side of the box across the goal, but it went just wide and Djeperov could not get there in time to deflect it in.  

However, Seoul came closest to scoring in the first half.  Park Chu-young took a free kick in the 4th minute, but it slammed against the crossbar and came back out.  Park Chu-young also had a great free kick in the 19th minute that Kim Dong-woo really should have done better to at least put on target.  Unfortunately, that was all of the offense that Seoul could muster in the first half.  Choi Yong-soo must not have been happy at all since he chose to sub Yun Il-lok at half time and brought on Go Yo-han for him.  


Seoul were much better in the second half and attacked with a lot more verve and dominated Ulsan over the final 45 minutes.  In the 58th minute,  Yun Ju-tae should have scored on a Cha Du-ri cross into the box.  He stuck his right leg out, but completely missed the ball.  In the 62nd minute, Seoul stole the ball and had a great break.  Park Chu-young passed to Go Yo-han, who put Yun Ju-tae through, but he shot straight at the keeper.  In all fairness though, it was a tough angle to score from and Go Yo-han probably should have passed to his left since there was so much more space that way.  
Seoul's only shot from outside the box came in the 74th minute.  It was rocket from Kim Chi-woo, but it went over the top, not troubling Ulsan's keeper Kim Seung-gyu.  Ulsan had a good chance in the 86th or 88th minute, but it went wide of Seoul's net.  

Seoul's best chance came in the 92nd minute.  Again, Seoul were on the break.  Go Yo-han carried the ball to the edge of Ulsan's box and passed Shim Je-hyeok.  He crossed from the left side to Jung Jo-gook, who headed it downwards.  It was going in and all three points were Seoul's, but they were thwarted by a magnificent save from Kim Seung-gyu.  He dived low to his left to knock it against the bar.  That was the game as a minute or two later the referee blew the whistle and both sets of players fell to the ground with disappointment.  


First, let's dispense with the negatives.  Ulsan's form in the league has been terrible.  They have not won in ten games, so this was as good an opportunity as any for Seoul to come away with three points from a team that they have had trouble beating the last two years.   With Ulsan's poor form, this was a game that Seoul really should have won.  It wasn't a point gained, but two lost.  

The offense still continues to be anemic.  As I said, I counted maybe four or five shots.  That is not nearly enough to win a game.  In the first half, Seoul were lucky that Ulsan ran out of ideas in the final third or they could have easily conceded a goal.  I remain unconvinced by Lee Woong-hee.  He continues to make mistakes and his passing is terrible.   

That being said, let's move on the positives.  Park Chu-young is starting to play better and round into form.  His two free kicks in the first half were great and should have resulted in something.  That being said, I still do not remain convinced that he can replace Dejan as the line leader.  

I was critical of Park Yong-woo against Gamba Osaka on Wednesday, but he played very well in the first half against Ulsan.  He did well to stop the attacks and pass out of the back.  I still think Seoul need another midfielder however, one with passing range such as Kim Do-heon.  

Finally, according to the K-League website, Osmar was the man of the match and I cannot disagree.  He did well to break up attacks and tried his best to get forward and assist the team.  The one blemish in his game came at the end when he had the ball on the break and was unsure of what to do, but even that I can't fault him since he is, by trade a defender, not a midfielder or forward.   

There is no time for Seoul to rest.  They must regroup quickly as they play against Incheon on Wednesday and travel to Jeonbuk on Saturday and play in Daejon next wednesday.  It would be nice for Seoul to capture all nine points but I will be happy if they get seven out of this stretch.  I am cautiously optimistic that this can be achieved.  

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