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2019 K League 2 Midseason Grades

As the summer months heat up, so does the competition for first place and the playoff positions in K League 2. Our writers from across the country weigh in on all 10 K2 teams and assess how the season has gone thus far. 

Daejeon Citizen: U

Unacceptable from Daejeon Citizen this term. To have only won three matches all season and keep just four cleansheets is not good enough for a side who finished in the playoffs last season. The Purples have lost 10 points by losing or drawing games despite being in winning positions, 23 points would take them to within just a couple of wins away from the playoffs rather than being a million miles away like they are now. The 2019 season has been a total write off and new manager Lee Heungsil has his work cut out for him if he is to turn this bunch of misfits into something that resembles a team.

- Paul Neat

Seoul E-Land: F

A shambles of a situation has occurred with Seoul E-Land this season. After 18 games, they can proudly boast about one pathetic win, five draws, and 12 painful losses. With a goal difference at a staggering -17, and conceding 34 goals to get to that margin. Seoul are diabolical at the back. Upfront, the strike force have failed to impress. Douglas Coutinho with seven goals is the clubs top scorer, and they struggle to put the ball into any dangerous situations. Kim Young-kwang between the sticks has failed to recreate his heroics of last year, yet with a defense as poor as Seoul’s, it’s easy to see why. An aging team, with a lot of veteran players on the side,  a complete gutting out is needed and fresh, young, willing players need to be given game time and show their worth. It’s not a matter of when will Seoul get their 2nd victory of the year, it’s if they actually will get another three points for the remainder of 2019. A dire situation for everyone involved in the football club, and anguish for many of the supporters who put their time and their money into following the team through thick and thin, many tears have been shed in recent weeks, and I feel they will not dry out, anytime soon.

- Michael Redmond 

Jeonnam Dragons: D+

Saved only by a recent run of form that’s seen them get within a point of Bucheon for 7th and somehow just six points off a playoff spot, Jeonnam’s start to the season has gone as planned. With a glut of K1 talent returning, they were expected to be the ones storming the league instead of Gwangju. Kim Youngwook, Han Chanhee, Lee Seulchan, Jugovic, and veteran captain Chio Hyojin all returned in an effort to immediately bounce back to K1, but the lack of a proper striker has destroyed the team. Bruno was brought in to be that man, but he looks to lack fitness and is far too clumsy with the ball at his feet to be efficient at hold up play. Instead the goals have had to come from the midfield with Kim Youngwook leading the team with four. After replacing Lee Hoseung in net, Park Junhyuk has unquestionably been the key for Jeonnam’s recent run and is the only reason a run up the table might be possible… if they can get the strikers going.

- Ryan Walters

Ansan Greeners: C+

Ansan Greeners seem more stable at the back this term, they currently boast the second best defence in the division, conceding an average of a goal a game, which is only bettered by leaders, Gwangju. This has been mainly due to the outstanding form of centre-back, Lee In-jae and goalkeeper, Hwang In-jae. Hwang has only shipped in four in eight matches, and has displaced club skipper, Lee Hee-seong between the Greeners’ sticks, with Lee In-jae taking over the captain’s armband. The Green Wolves do however need greater potency in the offensive third, having only found the back of the net on twenty occasions so far. Midfield playmaker, Jang Hyeok-jin has three goals and four assists from seventeen appearances in 2019, and striker, Gustavo Vintecinco has found the back of the net five times in the thirteen league fixtures in which he has featured in this year, but the attackers around them need to contribute more if Ansan are going to challenge for a playoff spot this season.

- James Walsh

Bucheon 1995: B-

Bucheon have been a stop-start team all season, having good moments but failing to achieve any real momentum. They win, lose and draw in equal amounts and have a fairly even goal difference. Their midfield has been their strong point this season and has come to the rescue when attack and defence have been below par. Despite these problems, they are still contenders for the play-offs and on a good day are a match for any of the teams above them.

- George Slade

Asan Mugunghwa: B

Considering the turmoil facing the club at the end of last season, and in particular the possibility of not even having a team this year, Asan have done remarkably well to this point in the campaign.They lost several pieces from last year's championship winning team because several players concluded their military service. As a result, a collection of players were brought in on loan deals to shore up the squad, and as it turns out, many of them have done quite well under Park Dong-hyuk.

They could have been in much better standing than they currently are, but their home form this season has been concerning to say the least.  Yi Sun-shin Stadium was a fortress last year, but with several new faces coming into the fold after a championship season, they seem to have found it easier on the legs when away from home.  The summer months will be critical in terms of how they will be positioned for the stretch run, but if there is one thing that is never in doubt, Asan will do whatever is necessary to stick around to the very end.  A repeat title is most certainly not on the cards this season, but they still have a chance to cause a surprise in the playoffs should they find themselves in that position come the end of the season.

- Branko Belan

Busan IPark: A-

This swashbuckling side has provided great entertainment for supporters this season, having converted a K-League high 41 goals at the half way point. At times Busan have looked like scoring from every attack, with the resurgence of 11-goal Lee Jeong-hyeop and emergence of tricky winger Lee Dong-joon giving this Busan side real teeth in the final third. Unfortunately, Busan's expansive attacking play has exposed a porous defence which has kept only four clean sheets so far this season. Goalkeeper Kim Hyung-keun has never fully convinced between the sticks, proving particularly vulnerable in the air, whilst individual mistakes at the back have been far too frequent. Busan will need to find a system that allows them to ship fewer goals if they are to have any chance of automatic promotion.

- Todd Wilde and Tom Marcantonio

FC Anyang: A

They’re having a great first half of the season, sitting somewhat comfortably in the top 3. Attacking players clicking and defensively above average. With a standout young star spearheading the new Anyang.

- Paul Bettridge

Gwangju FC: A

Prioritising the league has worked wonders for Park Jinseop in his second season in charge. He rotated heavily in the FA Cup where they lost their only game all season at Suwon. In the league they have conceded eight in 19 despite having to chop and change their back four nearly every week through suspension or injury (have been forced to use two GKs, four CBs, three RBs and two LBs). A settled and experienced midfield has helped them with Park Jeongsoo a big addition. Lots of young nippy wingers support Felipe up front, who often gets frustrated as he's battered around so frequently. The reason it works so well is Felipe attracts all the attention for players like Kim Jeonghwan and Willyan to exploit. Gwangju never seem to blow opposition away or put in dazzling performances of free-flowing football, they're just reliable, well-organised and make few mistakes. Could do with another striker to give Felipe some respite, Kim Jugong and Cho Jooyoung haven't done much off the bench.

- Peter Hampshire

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