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2015 K League Best XI



By Miroslav Tramita - @FRsoccerMiro

After completing my first season as the K League Classic analyst at Football Radar and watching almost every single game this season, here are the eleven players who impressed me the most! In the majority of cases they're players who really were the best in their position. However, I picked some of them simply because they were a joy to watch. I've decided to go with a 4-3-3 formation and include one defensive, one central and one attacking midfielder for more variation. Have a look at who made my K League Classic team of the 2015 season and why!

GK + Defense

GK - Kwoun Sun-tae (Jeonbuk)
K-League United Golden Glove Winner
There aren't many reliable GKs in K League as even those who continually make it to the national team are error-prone and their mistakes cost their teams goals or even points. Kwoun Sun-tae was the rare exception this season. His only mistakes (usually a poor distribution) caused Jeonbuk problems in the early stages of the season, but he made up for those later on and saved his team with some great saves. This also earned him a place in the national team.


RB - Cha Du-ri (FC Seoul)
I'm not trying to be sentimental here, but there simply wasn't anyone better on the right side than the legend himself. Although FC Seoul played 3-5-2 in the majority of games and he was therefore more of a RM, I think we can all agree he can be considered RB for this squad. As a famous quote goes: "Don't ya wish your right back was Cha Du-ri?" We all certainly do and we're gonna miss him and his energy next season since he decided to hang up his boots completely after retiring from international football in March. It'll be a tough task for FC Seoul to find a replacement during the off-season.

CB - Matej Jonjić (Incheon United)
K-League United Defender of the Year
Absolutely no doubt here, Jonjić was the best CB in the league by far this season and the main reason Incheon conceded the fewest goals in the league (level with Pohang on 32). He only missed one game all season due to suspension and was very solid since the first game to the last minute of the season. Incheon must be very glad he´s staying for another season!


CB - Yun Young-sun (Seongnam)
If it wasn't for long term injury, the second CB spot would most likely belong to Yun's teammate, Lim Chae-min. However, Yun YS really stepped up after Lim's injury in summer and was a vital part of the league's third best defense that conceded just one more goal than Pohang and Incheon United. Yun's physical approach earned him 11 yellow cards in the league and 2 in AFC Champions League, but also his first call up for the national team! Seongnam fans will hope he doesn't move to China as rumours during the summer suggested as he and Lim Chae-min will be at the heart of the All Blacks defense next season too.

LB - Choi Jae-Soo (Suwon/Pohang)
He couldn't really get ahead of Hong Chul on the left side of Suwon's defense despite doing quite well anytime he was given a rare start. Because of this he was traded to Pohang for winger Cho Chan-ho on a 6 month loan deal. Cho CH had one incredible game for Suwon, but failed to make a significant impact, while Pohang would surely be happy with Choi's contribution. He scored two goals from free kicks and provided much needed stability on the left side. He also sent in a number of dangerous crosses up top while being decent at the back too. It will be interesting to see if Pohang will be able to retain his services for next season.

Midfield

DM - Osmar Barba (FC Seoul)
Similar to Jonjić at CB, Osmar was the best DM in the league by some distance. Although he played decent portion of games as CB, he often struggled there against pacy forwards and was more effective at DM where he could better demonstrate his passing and tackling skills as well as composure when in possession. Rumours say he is moving to China during the winter break, but I really hope FC Seoul can keep him at the club!



CM - Yoon Bit-garam (Jeju Utd)
Solid season by the 25 year old who dictated the tempo and often started quick counter attacks that became Jeju's trademark this season. Really comfortable on the ball, two footed with an eye for a defense splitting pass or important goal. It will be very important for Jeju Utd to hold onto Yoon BG if they want to seriously push for ACL spot next season!



AM - Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk)
Really close call for me in this position. First of all, Lee JS was often deployed deeper to have more space to run with the ball and occasionally on the wing. Secondly, Jeonnam's Lee Jong-ho also had a very good season behind the front three, scoring 12 goals and providing a number of assists too. However, I believe Lee JS is at his best when given a free role and while Lee JH couldn't drag Jeonnam out of their incredible slump, Lee JS was integral to Jeonbuk's second title winning season in a row. Also scoring 'that' title winning goal suggests he deserves this spot slightly more. Lee JS said recently he has plenty of offers from Europe, but he wants to win ACL with Jeonbuk, so we are probably going to see him in K League for at least one more year!

Attackers

LW - Yeom Ki-hun (Suwon)
Plenty to chose from on the left wing with Leonardo (Jeonbuk), Oršić (Jeonnam) or Kim Ho-nam (Gwangju) all having strong seasons. However, Suwon´s captain was simply above everybody else and although he struggled after the departure of Jong Tae-se, he recorded the highest number of key passes and 17 assists! He also scored 8 goals. Ryan did a great interview with Jeonnam's Stevica Ristić and his words perfectly describe the left footed wizard: "Yeom Ki-hun, he’s not for K-League, he’s for some big league. Because you see his cross, and his pass, and his style, if he has a good striker he can make over 20 assists for the season with no problem." He almost got that number while only having a good striker up front until summer!

RW - Ricardo Lopes (Jeju Utd)
Lopes played everywhere in attack for Jeju this season, but mostly on the wings, so I will use this fact to fit him in my best XI and stick him to RW. He's been their main attacking threat since the start of the season and with Kang Soo-il getting initially suspended for 15 games before being later released by the club (sort of), he became even more important for the "Islanders." Perfectly suited for their counter attacking style with his pace and dribbling, the Brazilian recorded 11 goals and also created 11 in his first season in K League. Very impressive!


AT -  Jong Tae-se (Suwon) 
Another position where I could chose from number of good options. Lee Dong-gook, Jeonbuk's volley kick master, Edu (only half season with Jeonbuk), Adriano (Daejeon/FC Seoul), Kim Seung-dae (Pohang), Hwang Ui-jo (Seongnam) and so on. All of them and couple of others did quite well for their teams, but none of them impressed me as much as "People´s Rooney." And he only had half a season to do so before moving to Japan (where he wasn't able to save Shimizu from relegation). Couldn't he just stay with Suwon and help them push for the title? Such a shame, but that's football, I guess. His link up play, deadly finishing and telepathic connection with Yeom Ki-hun were top class and I'm sure it would have been less than 6 pts between title winners and runners up if he had decided to see out his contract with the Blue Wings. Suwon failed to replace him during the summer and will have to try again before the new season starts if they want to challenge for the title and be competitive in Asia.


If you didn't find a player you were hoping to see, check out the "Surprising" XI, he might have made it there! The Surprising XI includes players who did really well for their teams and I didn't really expect them to do so or just didn't know what to expect of them! Remember, this was my first season covering K League Classic so my knowledge was limited.

5 comments

  1. Would probably have gone for Kwon Chang-hoon and Adriano in the side and personally wouldn't have Cha in my pub team at RB

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    Replies
    1. Was a bit surprised to see Adriano left off as well. I wouldn't discount Cha for a solid Sunday pub team. Could knock the hell out of some hung over strikers. Certainly worth considering during the transfer window. ;)

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    2. I´ve decided to include Kwon CH in the other squad + I really liked Yoon BG more. Adriano surely has killer instinct and helped FC Seoul win KFA Cup, but he´s not kind of player I like. Walking around, waiting for a chance and if someone doesn´t create that chance, the game would just pass him by. As I´ve discussed on twitter, when it comes to picking one player over another, everyone is biased in some way :) who would be your pick at RB, Steve?

      Delete
    3. I think Kwon Chang hoon was better than Yoon bit garam

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