Super Match Recap: FC Seoul 1-1 Suwon Bluewings
1. Adriano scores again.
With the controversy over the Jeonbuk scout "independently helping the refs by giving them spending money to cover their costs at home" in 2013, nowadays the match officials are far too often in the spotlight nowadays. I bitch and moan about them a lot, but after having taught in various academic institutions during my time here in Korea, I can appreciate what a difficult job they have. One party will always feel aggrieved no matter what, it is damn near impossible to get every call right and inevitably, that will have consequences, etc. So, it sucks that there is once again another match-fixing scandal that involves the refs because every call they make immediately brings about suspicion that the officials are bent rather than just incompetent. I would like to think it is the latter rather than the former because if it is not, then what the hell am I watching games for if the outcome has already been predetermined.
Unlike the first Super Match played on April 30th, when referee Kim Sang-woo was at the forefront in allowing Suwon to practically get away with murder, yesterday's referee (I am not sure who) was okay for the most part in my opinion. However, many Suwon fans were probably upset about the ref's failure to award Yeom Ki-hun a PK or the call to give Seoul one. The ref had adjudged that Suwon defender Lee Jung-soo had pushed Adriano over in the box. It is hard to say if it was a foul, but Lee did have his hands on Adriano's back, so I think the ref got it right.
From there, in what felt like an eternity as the Suwon Bluewing players tried a bit of gamesmanship to psyche out Adriano, he coolly dispatched his penalty kick. That is now seven goals in five games against Suwon for Adriano. I knew he would score in this fixture and the man did not let me down.
2. Seoul defended much better.
I have been very critical of Seoul's defensive efforts of late, but I thought they did a good job against Suwon on Saturday. There was only one moment where there was breakdown and Suwon looked as though they would score, but Yu Sang-hun made a great save to deny Santos. Other than that, I thought Seoul did well to contain Suwon and even when there were mistakes, such as here and here (Kim Dong-woo tries to be Messi again), Seoul players were there to clear the danger.
Unfortunately, while Seoul defended well, they did not pass the ball with the same amount of precision. Far too often, passes were misplaced and that allowed for Suwon to recycle possession and have another crack. It was from a misplaced Takahagi pass to Ko Kwang-min that resulted in the Suwon free-kick that Kwak Hee-ju scored from. Kwak Hee-ju: damn, I really hate that guy.
3. Gridlock in the midfield.
Both teams lined up in 3-5-2/5-3-2 formations, so there was little space to work with in the middle. This is a recap of the match between Jeonbuk and FC Seoul and it brilliantly summarizes why these contests can become wars of attrition. Also, it is an interesting read and explains the tactics of the 5-3-2 much better than I could ever hope to.
In my opinion, I think both teams playing in this formation is one of the reasons that Seoul had so many errant passes. There was little space to work with and unfortunately, Seoul lack the player with the technical ability and dynamism to bypass the packed midfield and five defenders in the back. Maybe a 2012 Molina could have done it, but no one on the squad this year currently has that ability to consistently do this time and time again to keep defenses honest.
I really like Yun Il-lok and I appreciate how hard he tries, but I do not believe he has the technical ability to play in the middle when the space is so tightly constricted. Yun is at best when he has space to run into and at the defense as he so aptly demonstrated in the Suwon FC game. I think when teams play a similar formation, it minimizes Yun's impact and it would be best for Choi Yong-soo to change his tactics.
In the second half, he subbed off Dejan and Yun Il-lok for Yun Ju-tae and Kim Chi-woo. Instead, I would have like to see Kim Chi-woo come on for Kim Dong-woo and Seoul to alter their formation and attack Suwon down the flanks and maybe they would have found a second goal. That is one of the frustrating things about Choi Yong-soo as a manager and his strict insistence on sticking with this formation.
However, Seoul were better after Yun Ju-tae and Kim Chi-woo came as Choi pushed Go Yo-han into the middle, but that could have been because the Suwon defense was tiring and having their characteristic end of game break down that has plagued them all season long. I think the the biggest thing that Choi will take away from this game is the immediate need for help in the midfield. Ju Se-jong did not suit up for the second game in a row and rumor has it that it is because he has fractured his toe and is out for the next two months. Seoul have been linked with Ha Dae-sung and if that is true, then I welcome it, but I also think Choi needs to recruit one more midfielder as well besides Ha.
4. Seoul blow it again.
This was a great chance to overtake Jeonbuk and climb atop the table again after Jeonbuk drew 0-0 with Incheon. Instead, Seoul failed to win a game at home again. In their last five league home games, Seoul have only won one and that is just not good enough if they want to stop Jeonbuk from three-peating. Seoul were the better team last night and they should have found a way to win this game.
For Seoul though, there is no time to hang their head. They have an FA Cup game on Wednesday against Ansan, who are quite a good side this year, and a tough game away in Pohang next Saturday. It would have been nice to win the Super Match, but in years past, Seoul have played well and come away with a loss. Therefore, I am going to try and see this result as a point earned rather than two dropped.