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Four Thoughts about the K-League and Last Night's Seoul-Ulsan Game

Normally, I would write a recap of last night's game between Seoul and Ulsan, but I didn't watch it live, so I have nothing to offer that the video highlights could not.  Instead, I will do what the good folks over at ESPN do and just make a list of my general thoughts.  I will start with non-Seoul related stuff first and go from there.

1.  Lucky Jeonbuk, unlucky Busan, and lucky Pohang.

Do we get lucky or make our own luck?  Who gives a shit.  Since Busan defender Yoo Ji-hun was kind enough to knock it into the net for Jeonbuk in the 83rd minute, Jeonbuk walked away with all three points.

I think this goal summarized the season for both teams.  Jeonbuk have had luck go their way and Busan has not.  I think it is why Jeonbuk are going to be the champions and Busan will play Seoul E-Land in the relegation fixture at the end of the year.  Leonardo's goal, on the other hand- pure silk.

Pohang, unfortunately, won last night with two goals in the last five minutes.  Watching the highlights, they were dominated by Incheon in the first half but played better in the second half.  Still, I think it is a bit harsh for Incheon to lose by two goals.

Shin Jin-ho's free kick was brilliant, but  after gifting Jong Jo-gook a goal on June 3rd, Kim Jin-hwan did the same for his compatriot Kim Seung-dae in the 90th minute.  Once is an accident, but twice seems to indicate some sort of extreme discomfort when on the ball.  Sadly, Pohang just won't go away, which is bad for Seoul.

(From prediksibola108.com)
2.  Are Jeonnam just unlucky?

The Dragons can't be happy after last night's result.  After hitting the bar and having the majority of the shots on goal, they probably feel as though they should have won.  However, a lot of those were outside the box.

Gwangju FC is Jeonnam's kryptonite.  They beat Jeonnam 3-2 in the beginning of May and 2-1 in the beginning of June.

(From www.kleague.com)
3.  How are Gwangju doing it this year?

Looking at their record, it is not great but it isn't terrible.  I feel as though they should be doing much worse than they are.  Instead, they are in striking distance of finishing in the top six, which is quite impressive for a newly promoted club.

They have not laid down against the top clubs at all.  Against opponents in the top six, they have a record of three wins, eight draws, and three loses.  I guess this is why any time I see the words "Gwangju FC" the words tie or draw immediately pop into my mind.

If they had a better win-loss record against the bottom six clubs, they might be challenging Jeonnam, Seoul, Pohang, and Seongnam for the final ACL spot.

(From www.modernseoul.org)
4.  What is Ulsan doing?  

As a Seoul fan, I believe that Ulsan deserved to lose but maybe the neutrals might disagree with me.  They scored once, created several good opportunities, and were extremely unlucky that Kim Shin-wook's shot hit the bar in the 77th minute.  On another day they would have gotten at least a point and maybe all three.

However, I do not understand why Kim Shin-wook did not start.  Once he came on he gave the Seoul defense, especially Lee Woong-hee, the shits.  He scored a header from a cross in the 66th minute and hit the bar in the 77th.

Why didn't Kim Shin-wook start?   Why doesn't he play all the time?  His scoring record isn't that bad.  He has nine goals in 24 league games and eleven goals in 25 games total.  Unless he is injured, I don't understand why he is on the bench.

Why don't Ulsan play a 4-4-2 with both him and Yang Dong-hyun terrorizing defenses?  Why did they wait until the 85th minute to bring Everton on?  He has been in Ulsan for at least two weeks.  Is he such shit that he can't crack the starting line up of a 10th place team?

It's shit like this that is probably the reason Ulsan is languishing in 10th place this year.  Ulsan is much better, in my opinion, than Seongnam, Gwangju, Incheon, and Jeju.  They should not be so poor this year.

In the past I have associated Pohang with Arsenal.  Now, I will do the same for Ulsan with Newcastle.  They both should have won the league but choked in stunning circumstances, are currently underachieving, and have an air of hopelessness about them as of late.

(From www.dramabeans.com)
5.  Even with three in the back, Seoul still continue to struggle defensively.  

Statistically, Seoul does not have the league's worst defense.  They have allowed 26 goals in 24 games this year, which I would say is around the league average.  It just feels like they have league's worst defense sometimes or, let me clarify, the league's worst defender.

Lee Woong-hee, who I always piss and moan about, was up to his usual tricks.  If he isn't getting beaten by pace off the dribble by an opponent, then he is doing his best to make sure he is out of position or poorly marking players.  Seoul really do need to go out and get a better defender at the end of the year.

In the 8th minute, rather than jumping to clear the ball, he chose to instead admire Kim Tae-hwan's cross.  Yes, I agree that the cross in was of the highest quality, but as a defender it is his job to knock the ball out, not sit back and look up at it as though it was a bird flying overhead.  Lee would probably not have gotten the ball, but at least jump for Christ-sakes.  Seoul was really lucky that Yang Dong-hyun's header was over the bar.

In the 66th minute, Kim Shin-wook scored from a header, but this time it wasn't solely Lee Woong-hee's fault, he just happened to be the closest to the Wookie.  He probably should have gotten better positioning on him but what the hell was Kim Jin-kyu doing?  He was marking no one.  Maybe he was watching Lee Chang-yong.  I don't know, which is why I "teach" English rather than analyzing football professionally.

However, in the 77th minute Lee Woong-hee was very lucky indeed.  He was "marking" Kim Shin-wook again when the Kim received the ball.  The Wookie's first touch was quite good and allowed for him to get a bit of space.  However, instead of getting tight to him, Lee Woong-hee backed off and allowed Kim to have an open shot on the goal.  It hit off the cross bar and Seoul dodged a bullet.  On another day, that would have gone in and I would be lamenting about dropped points.

Returning to Kim Shin-wook's goal in the 66th minute, I do not think the left-back Sim Sang-min should be exonerated.  He was initially at fault for allowing the cross to come in so easily and not closing out Ulsan's right-back Jeong Dong-ho.

I really like this kid and I think he has a bright future.  He was brilliant in the games he started against Jeju and Incheon, but he struggled defensively last night.  Still, he is young so cliches about development will abound.

(From Facebook.com)
6.  I was surprised with Choi Yong-soo's line-up choices last night

Molina, Takahagi, and Adriano started the game.  I did not expect that Choi would select Adriano to start in the first game that he suited up for Seoul.  I was pleasantly surprised with this choice and I am sure he was as well since Adriano scored the winning goal.

I was also surprised that he played Molina and Takahagi together in the midfield.  I was sure that he would go with his old standby, Go Yo-han.  Hopefully, this will continue to be a trend.  Now, if he would just stop playing three in the back and go with three up front, I would have nothing left to bitch about other Lee Woong-hee.

(From Facebook.com)
7.  Understatement of the year- it was a good win for Seoul.  

Seoul won again for the second year in Ulsan.  They were not great but they gutted it out and beat a team they usually do not.  It was team that has been terrible this year and that they should have defeated, but nonetheless, they won and that is all that matters.

Yang Dong-hyun really should have scored in the 8th minute in what was otherwise, an uneventful first half.  Seoul was much better in the second half.  They might have been a bit lucky to get the first goal, but the second was magnificent.

Park Chu-young's through ball allowed for Adriano to get his first goal as an FC Seoul player.  A minute earlier, Adriano had provided Park Chu-young with a fantastic opportunity to score only for the defender to knock the ball away when he was about to shoot.

Two things jumped out at me in those sequences.  First, the forwards made good runs behind the defense.  Second, and even more importantly, the runs were spotted by the player with the ball.

Is this a new wrinkle for Seoul?  Will they begin to score more than a goal a game?  Is this the start of a wonderful partnership between Adriano and Park Chu-young?  Here are the highlights.

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