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K League 1 Round 28 Power Rankings

After a long absence, the K League United Power Rankings are back thanks to Football Radar's K League Analyst Alex Lee! He breaks down all 12 K1 teams current form and rates them first to worst with some surprises along the way.


1st: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

After a small blip in early August, Jeonbuk are back on track to retain their title as widely expected. Having scored the most goals (59) and conceded the least (22), last year’s champions are sitting at the top of the table with a whopping 16-point lead and could potentially secure the title before the Round 33 split. Their back four have looked impenetrable this season (excluding the odd one vs Pohang) along with right-back Lee Yong providing the most assists (9) in the league so far. Oddly enough, Jeonbuk continue their tradition of dominating the K League without a standout striker; 38-year-old veteran Lee Dong-gook leads the team’s scoring with a mere 11 goals. #FreeAdriano


2nd: Ulsan Hyundai FC

Named as ‘the most exciting team to watch in August,’ Ulsan had the highest conversion rate, pass completion rate in the opposition half, and overall goal difference (+10) last month. Blessed with a cohesive squad, manager Kim Do-hoon perfected the rotational system that kept players fit through the toughest of schedules. Summer signing Mix Diskerud excelled expectations and became arguably the best midfielder in K League since the departure of Jeonbuk’s Lee Jae-sung. Helped by Mix’s presence in midfield, Brazilian striker Junior is in sensational form, scoring nine goals in the last six games.


3rd: Daegu FC

What a month it has been for Daegu. The team that won three games from March to July added six to their name from the start of August. Goals came from Brazilian forwards Cesinha, Edgar, and Jose Roberto as expected, but the unsung hero was 21-year-old Kim Dae-won. Since the youngster’s breakthrough in the team, he bagged himself two goals and two assists in seven starts; six of which Daegu have won. An incredible achievement in the absence of their star keeper, Cho Hyun-woo.


4th: Jeonnam Dragons

Another surprise on this list. New manager Kim In-wan has brought survival hopes to the club since taking charge in mid-August. Following a shock 6-4 win against then third-place Suwon, his Jeonnam side have won against Pohang and Sangju, and drawn against Gyeongnam. Goals have  mainly come from Macedo (5) and Heo Yong-joon (4) under the new manager, however, I have been particularly impressed with 20-year-old Lee Sang-hun. The youngster has scored three of late, including two against Gyeongnam. He continues to feature off the bench, but truly deserves a place in the starting lineup.


5th: Incheon United

The 7-0 defeat against Gangwon must have affected Jørn Andersen and his players as they have gone four games undefeated since, only conceding three goals along the way. 22-year-old rookie Lim Eun-soo replaced first choice defensive midfielder Han Suk-jong after their embarrassing defeat and has successfully paid off for Incheon. The reformed Bosnian centre-back Bunoza has also put in dominant defensive performances recently, rewarding him with two team of the week spots. Unfortunately, Jeonnam and Daegu also managed to turn their form around at the same time, which has left Incheon remaining at the bottom of the table. With the club seven points behind tenth-place Daegu, it might be too little too late for Jørn Andersen’s side... or is it?


6th: Gyeongnam FC

Don’t want to be too harsh on Gyeongnam as they have been tremendous this season. In late August, with the team unbeaten in 11 games, Marcão was suspended for fixtures against Suwon and Jeonbuk after receiving a straight red card. Those matches ended as 1-0 and 3-0 defeats respectively, showing signs of over-reliance on the Brazilian. Having scored nearly half of Gyeongnam’s goals this season (22 of 46), Marcão has averaged 0.92 goals per appearance. However, he would benefit if fellow countrymen Paulinho and Negueba could remove some of the goal-scoring burden on his shoulders.


7th: Pohang Steelers

Even though Pohang have not been in the best of form, they have escaped the bottom half of the table and climbed to fifth-place. The quality of new signings Lee Seok-hyun and Kim Ji-min were questioned at first, but their performances have been vital for Choi Soon-ho’s side. Namely Lee’s hat-trick against Jeonbuk, and Kim’s brace against Jeju. However, trailing 11 points behind arch-rival Ulsan in third-place and out of the KFA Cup, ACL qualification appears to be out of reach for the Steelers.


8th: Gangwon FC

Gangwon’s woes continue under new manager Kim Byung-soo. Back-to-back wins at the beginning of his reign looked to have lifted the atmosphere at the club that were simultaneously facing various off-field problems. Unfortunately, their winning spell did not last long as winless fixtures have piled up, including defeats against Gyeongnam, Daegu, and Sangju. The league’s top scorer, Uroš Đerić, has been on a goal-drought of his own only netting once in the past four games and remaining stuck on 23 goals. Now 14 points behind an ACL qualification spot, Gangwon will have to settle for a top half finish at best.


9th: Sangju Sangmu FC

Manager Kim Tae-wan had a tough August having to train 47 first-team players at once. With 17 players set to be discharged from military service, the team’s focus and performances were not on the same level as earlier this season. As these players have now left, Kim needs to rebuild the team in order to maintain their hard-earned six point buffer above the relegation zone.


10th: Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Suwon’s ACL heroics under caretaker manager Lee Byung-keun have not been matched by their poor form in the league. They have suffered through two goalless draws against Jeju and Incheon as well as conceding four times in the defeat against Daegu. ACL qualification through the league seems difficult as they now trail Ulsan by seven points for third place. A more realistic method of qualification would be to win the KFA Cup where they have progressed to the quarter-finals. Even with a 3-0 first leg victory behind them, their their place in the ACL semi-final far from secure with Jeonbuk looking far more menacing than this Suwon side lately. However, getting over this hill will make them favourites for the ACL title, which they have not won since 2002. Finishing ACL Champions and KFA Cup winners is not a bad season for any club.


11th: Jeju United FC

Jeju are currently in free fall due to their gloomy 13-game winless streak. Stemming from the fruitless striking-partnership of Magno and Tiago, scoring goals has been a problem of late with the team failing to find the net in seven matches during this miserable spell. The two Brazilian forwards have lost their deadly touch from the first half of this season, resulting in both getting dropped in last week’s match against Jeonbuk. One positive for Jeju is that they are still in the KFA Cup from which they can achieve an unlikely ACL qualification spot.


12th: FC Seoul

New manager, same old Seoul. The appointment of Lee Eul-yong failed to turn fortunes around while the mess left by former manager Hwang Sun-hong is deemed irreversible. New foreign signings Evandro, Anderson, and Matic have all been substandard this year with the club’s scouting and transfer system being rightfully criticised by the fans. 15 points off ACL qualification and out of the KFA Cup, FC Seoul’s disappointing season has come to an early end. At this rate, they may even be dragged into the relegation fight.

The K League United Podcast

Once Alex had submitted his ratings, our writers Ryan Walters, Matthew Binns and Scott Whitelock sat down in the K League United studio to talk about the rankings and each team's recent form. You can listen to the podcast below (or through iTunes or TuneIn) or watch the show again on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.


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