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Recap: FC Seoul vs. Incheon United

(from FCSeoul.com)
Seoul have played quite a bit of football the last two days.  With match previews and trying to write something cogent about Seoul's history in the ACL, I have neglected to write a recap for the Seoul-Incheon game.  Instead of describing all of the goals or action, I will link video to the result and just write about somethings that stood out for me in the game.

Seoul came away with the easiest 3-1 win I have ever seen.  Incheon lacked ideas and/or inspiration on how to attack and were quite happy to sit back in the first half and go into the locker room down a goal.  They did try and go at Seoul a bit in the second half and were able to get a goal or, as the fans chanted "service", but there was little else positive to take away from the game.  Currently, Incheon are stuck in last play with no points, two goals scored, and eight conceded .  It is probably too early to start mentioning the "r" word, but if they continue in this form surely they will be relegated.  Maybe it Incheon's manager Kim Do-hoon should start updating his CV for another coaching position.  Anyways, here are three things that stood out for me.

1.  Seoul's Pressing

Seoul started out in a high block and aggressively went at Incheon from the moment the whistle was blown. I mentioned this in my match preview against Shandong, but I will include it again.  Here is the image.

(from SPOTV via youtube.com)
I have circled Dejan and put a square around Park Chu-young.  Immediately after the ball is played back, they started running towards the defenders.  Park Chu-young attempts to take away the pass from the triangle while Dejan runs at Jonjic (heart).  In the next image below, the midfield gets involved as well.

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
Seoul continue to press from the front, looking to eliminate all the short passing options.  There are four Seoul players, Takahagi (1), Dejan (2), Park Chu-young (3), and Ju Se-jong (4), pushing up on the four Incheon players and cutting off any short passes.  In turn, Incheon's CB (vertical line) has to hoof the ball long. Seoul's aggressive press led to Incheon playing long balls over the top, which the CBs handled without any difficulty.  The next image shows the defense getting involved as well.  

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
After Incheon's left-sided CB (vertical line) hoofed it long, the defense looks to intercept any long passes and play them forward quickly.  The image quality is not great, but I find it interesting how much energy Takahagi (5) is expending to chase back and get the ball.  Also, Osmar (2) is coming from his left-side role to assist in the press as well.  The longer Osmar plays at Seoul, the more freedom it seems he has been given by Choi Yong-soo, but more on that later.  On to the next image.

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
The Incheon player does well to win the ball, but both Osmar and Kim Won-sik combine to push the player horizontally across the pitch.  With no options, he must pass it back to the shoddily drawn rectangle.  This lateral pressing by those two gives the midfield time to get back.

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
In the image above, I have circled Takahagi.  The Incheon player with the ball has no short options to pass to and tries to play it long.  Takahagi blocks it and wins the throw in.

Seoul were quite aggressive in the first twenty minutes pressing.  This led to Dejan being fouled and Park Chu-young's PK.  Seoul started the game in a similar fashion against Sangju and scored early as well.

I think their aggression has been what has led to so many goals.  Players going after the ball and causing havoc in the defense has led to early leads for Seoul.  From there, they ping the ball around and use the skills of the midfield (Takahagi, Shin Jin-ho, Ju Se-jong) and their forwards (Dejan, Adriano, Park Chu-young) to open up the defense on the counter afterwards.

I was quite critical of Seoul's attack last year.  I found it too languid and predictable.  This year has not been the case and I think a lot of that is down to the high block pressing that is instituted in the beginning of games.  It will be interesting to see how Choi decided to start the game on the road this Sunday against Jeonnam.

2.  Park Chu-young or Dejan Dropping Deep

Another feature that was noticeable was one of the two forwards dropping deep to assist in the build-up play.  Because Incheon chose to employ a five man defense, there was not a lot of space behind, so Seoul had difficulty breaking this down.  I would like to think that Choi, learning from the debacle of the Jeonbuk game earlier in the year, told his forwards to take turns dropping deep to get the ball from the CBs and assist the midfielders.  This in turn, would make Seoul's attack less static.

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
 In this image, Dejan is in the triangle.  He is dropping deep to receive a pass from Osmar, whom I circled.  In the next the image, Park Chu-young drops deep while Dejan remains high up the pitch and on the shoulder of the defender.

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
Here Park Chu-young is dropping deep to receive the ball and it leads to Takahagi's shot slamming off the crossbar.  I have underlined the ball, circled Park Chu-young, put rectangle around Dejan, and a triangle around Takahagi.  Dejan is occupying two defenders right now and Takahagi has acres of space.

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
In this image, Park Chu-young (circle) receives the ball, turns and finds Takahagi (triangle) in a lot of open space.  Dejan's run (square) into the box occupies Jonjic and the defender on the left (horizontal line) is unsure of whether to go with Dejan as well or track Takahagi.  Takahagi has a lot of room and as I mentioned earlier, cannoned a shot off the crossbar.

3.  Kevin Not Starting

Finally, I think Kim Do-hoon did a great job with Incheon last year.  They were boring as hell to watch, but overachieved.  This year, Kim and Incheon seem to really be bottling it.  Each week Kim has named a different keeper.  In week one, it was Kim Gyo-bin and in week two it was Lee Tae-hee and in week three, it was Kim Da-sol.  Playing musical keepers cannot be helping the confidence of the defense at all.

(Kim Do-hoon- Dead man walking? From sportsnews.naver.com)
However, what I find quite perplexing is Kim Do-hoon's decision to not start Kevin.  In fact, he waited until the 64th minute to bring him on.  Did he think the front three of Park Se-jik, Jin Seong-wook, and Lee Hyo-gyun would be more mobile against Seoul's back line?

(from sportsnews.naver.com)
Kevin set up Incheon's only goal.  A long ball was played to him (black circle) and subsequently, he knocked it down for Seong Je-hong (black rectangle) to run onto and score from.  It was route one, but effective.  The defense on the other hand, should have done a better job against it.  Park Yong-woo (red circle) gave Kevin way too much space and did not even challenge him in the air.  Kim Won-sik probably should have tracked Seong's run a bit better.  Besides that though, Seoul's back-line were flawless.  

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