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Championship Round Preview: Seoul (How Have They Done? How Will They Do?)

(from FCSeoul.com)
What does Seoul have left to play for?  How has their season measured up?  What has gone right?  What has gone wrong?  How will they do next year?

Team Rank: 5th in Championship Round

Points: 54

Last Five Matches: LWLWW

chicken tikka masala에 대한 이미지 검색결과
(from wsls.com)
Is FC Seoul’s current spot an achievement or disappointment?

This is a difficult question to answer.  Watching Seoul is like going to an Indian restaurant and not getting what you want.  You are feeling ravenous, ready to devour a delicious curry that will satisfy not only your appetite, but the needs of your soul. 

Instead, the server brings out a plate of chicken with some spices on the side.  This is followed by a mixture of onion, tomato, and yogurt in one bowl and some cream in another.  Then, after complaining to the cook that this is not what you ordered, the cheeky fucker has the temerity to call it a deconstructed chicken tikka masala.

Now, by no means am I an expert on Indian cuisine.  I once tried to make a curry and found it easier and about the same price-wise to just visit an Indian restaurant.  However, I believe with a fair amount of certainty that unless the parts of the curry dish are combined, it is not a curry. 

Individually, the chicken might taste quite good, but if I wanted chicken tikka, I would have ordered it.  Better yet, I would have paid a bit more money and just ordered the chicken tandoori.  Therefore, when I order a curry, I expect that.  I do not expect a bunch of shit that has been separated for me to combine in an effort to satisfy my order.

That is what watching Seoul has been like this year.  There are some great elements individually, but for whatever reason, the chef has failed to combine them.  Often times, for whatever reason (safety, being conservative, etc.), the chef decides not to add spices to the curry mixture until there is a large number of complaints.  Only then will he frantically do so in the final 10 minutes before the restaurant closes and the customers are beginning to clear out angrily. 

After reading this, I guess a fair question would be, what the hell are you talking about?  I am trying to say that Seoul is like a failed Indian curry.  The elements are there to make a fantastic dish, but for whatever reason, there was a failure to properly combine them.  Instead, what was often received was an insipid dish that was flavorless and noteworthy for only its paucity of chicken/goals. 

Seoul has talented players on both offense and defense, but for whatever reason, they did not often play well together.  Yet, when they did perform, such as in the 4-2 win over Jeju, the 2-0 win against Incheon at the end of July, and the 3-0 demolishing in Suwon, it was magnificent.  I just wish that it could have happened more frequently. Therefore, I feel as though this season feels like a disappointment. 

Still, considering how horribly Seoul started and all of the problems the team has had this year with consistency, scoring goals, and Yun Il-lok, they are probably pretty fortunate to be where they are right now.  However, a club like Seoul should never be satisfied with fifth place.  Since they are being backed by a chaebol and reside in the country’s largest city, they should be in the hunt for the championship every year.  Of course, it also does not help that Seoul’s football has often tended to be sterile, conservative, and worst of all, boring. 

At this moment though, I would say that Seoul’s season receives an incomplete.  It is an achievement to finish in the top six considering how poor they have been at times this year, but mediocrity is not something to settle for.  The next five games will decide Seoul’s season.  If they make the ACL, then it was a good season.  If they fail to do so, then it has been a disappointment. 

(from FCSeoul.com)
How does FC Seoul's current spot compare to pre-season expectations?

I think a fair assumption was that Seoul would finish in fourth behind Jeonbuk, Suwon, and Pohang.  They are tied with Seongnam for fourth place, behind by only by only goal, so I would guess that their spot conforms to the assumption.

Why is FC Seoul where they are?

1.  Seoul started poorly- AGAIN.  

Since Choi took over as the manager full-time, three of his four seasons have involved getting off to horrific starts.  

Choi Yong-soo's Record in the First 10 Games


This year, Seoul lost their first three games of the season to Ulsan, Jeonbuk, and Pohang.  After that, they have spent the rest of the season digging themselves out of that gigantic hole.  To be competitive next year, Choi must really get Seoul to come out of the gate strongly.  

2.  The conservative tactics of Choi Yong-soo have not helped.

Far too often this year, Seoul has had long periods of doing little with the ball when they have it.  Passing sideways, backwards, and then after dicking around with the ball, sending in a hopeful, wayward cross while everyone else just stands around on the edge of the box has been Choi's offensive modus operandi.  It seems as though Seoul leave the handbrake on, always ready to retreat back into their box for fear of being caught on the counter.  Only in the final ten minutes of a game, when a result is needed, is the handbrake released.  

3.  The defense could not make up for the shortcomings of the offense this year.  

The offense has been a bit better this year, especially with the additions of Park Chu-young and Adriano, but there still seems to be an aurora of impotence about it.  The defense conversely, has been much worse this year.  Last year before the split, Seoul conceded only 24 goals in 33 games.  In 2015, it has been 37 goals in 33 games.  

I think much of this comes down to the loss of Kim Ju-young moving to China and Kim Jin-kyu's form.  For the latter Kim, he struggled in the beginning of the season, was injured in Gwangju, made a brief return, and has now lost his spot to Park Yong-woo.  In my opinion, much of Kim Jin-kyu's struggles this year have come down to the loss of Kim Ju-young.  

Also, I really do think that Lee Woong-hee makes too many mistakes, gets caught out of position, and then is beaten by pace.  For whatever reason, the defense of Seoul has been a mess this year and they are quite lucky that they have not conceded more than 37 goals.  

4.  Seoul has had difficulty getting points against teams above them.  

Here is their record against the four teams that are above them in the table right now.


Gaining 10 points out of a total of 36 available against the teams above you is just not good enough.  

5.  However, being the quintessential flat track bullies, they have excelled against teams below them.

 Here is their record against teams that are below them in the table right now.  


In other words, they have handled their shit against the teams they are suppose to beat.  That is why I feel as though their league position is a fair reflection of who they are.

(from FCSeoul.com)
What's the best FC Seoul can do in the next 5 weeks?

The best is that Seoul is able to win the FA Cup.  Then, it does not matter if they falter in the league, which I believe is a strong likelihood since they have not fared well this year against teams at the top.  If they do not win the FA Cup, then hopefully they can do enough to secure third place again, such as winning three or four games and hoping that Suwon, Pohang, and Seongnam falter. 

(from FCSeoul.com)
The worst?

The worst is that Seoul loses all five games and they are knocked out of the FA Cup by either Ulsan or whomever they play in the final.  Then there is no ACL to look forward to and both Adriano and Osmar fuck off to China in the off-season. 

(from FCSeoul.com)
Will next year be better or worse?

Again, it is hard to say.  When they signed Adriano and went on a four game winning streak, I believed they could win it all next year.  Now, I am not so sure. 

Seoul has a lot of old players, many who are no longer starters such as Kim Yong-dae, Kim Jin-kyu, Kim Chi-woo, and Jong Jo-gook.  How much salary is being devoted to those players?  When do their contracts come off the books?  Also, Takahagi will be 30 next year and Park Chu-young turns 31, so I expect to see more injuries for those two.  
The same could be said for Molina as well.  He will be out of contract at the end of 2015 and at the age of 35, I doubt he will be offered another one at what he is making now.  Seoul was pretty vicious in trying to get rid of him in 2014 after Dejan and Ha Dae-sung's departures. Finally, they need to get younger and hungrier and come up with a pressing system that works.  Say what you want about Escudero, but I always appreciated how tenacious he was off the ball and how he tried to close down his opponents.  I feel as though Seoul was lacking that this year.   I would say there is some cause for optimism.  Park Yong-woo and Sim Sang-min played well and I expect that they will continue to improve as they are incorporated into the first team set up.  Likewise, Yun Ju-tae was great up front when he got to play.  Hopefully, Choi will let him start more next year.  Finally, for the sake of Yun Il-lok's career, let's hope that 2015 was an aberration.  If this were Europe or America, I would blame a drug such as cocaine for his massive drop-off in form, but since it's Korea, who the hell knows what happened.  

Cha Du-ri is retiring at the end of the year.   Outside of Ko Kwang-min, there is little depth at right back, so that could also be troublesome next year.  Cha is old for a footballer, but he was still one of their best players.

However, Molina is still one of their top players and leads the team with 11 assists.  Nobody else on the team even comes close to matching that total.  How will Seoul replace those totals in 2016?  Sure, Park Chu-young and Takahagi can take set pieces, but who will take Molina's spot in midfield?  

I guess it all comes down to who they sign.  Seoul needs to become faster.  They are too slow on the counter and too laborious when they have the ball in the opponent’s side.  More often than not, they are predictable when they have the ball and fail to score from open play too often.  I think they really need someone who can move the ball quicker and spot the runs and turn defense into offense.  They haven't had that since Ha Dae-sung left.  

As of now, I think Seoul will be the same as last year.  They will finish in the top six, but will struggle to make the ACL and probably not compete for the top spot.  

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