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2020 K League 2 Mid-season Grades

2020 K League 2 Mid-season Grades
K League 2 has proven yet again to be as unpredictable as ever with a whole host of teams all vying for promotion and the title. Our writers from across the country weigh in on all 10 sides and hand out grades just past the midway point of the 2020 season.

Suwon FC

Suwon FC have been a joy to watch in 2020, surprising pundits with their buccaneering and stylish attacking play. Their shamelessly aggressive high press has caught out several teams as they look to gain control of the ball then pass into a shooting position as quickly as possible after winning possession. Building with a youthful core of ambitious players such as midfielder Mo Jae-hyeon, centre back Cho Yu-min and  forward Masatoshi Ishida, Suwon have crafted a style of play that has allowed striker An Byong-jun to benefit, the North Korean in lethal form this season but perhaps more importantly able to keep himself fit after an injury-ravaged 2019. Suwon do however need to improve their defending if they are to get promoted, as their attacking mindset often leaves themselves open in their own half, particularly to counter attacks built through wide areas.
- Todd Wilde

Grade: A

Jeju United

Jeju were considered one of the favorites for automatic promotion at the beginning of the season and up to this point in the campaign, they have mostly lived up to expectations.  Nam Ki-il has done an admirable job in utilizing his roster - in particular, the emergence of Gong Min-hyun, whose five goals lead the team and the addition of Kim Oh-gyu from Gangwon FC have stood out in recent weeks.  In fact, the islanders have one of the best defensive units in the division this season, but still have to figure a way to beat the likes of Daejeon Hana Citizen and Jeonnam Dragons to really cement their place as one of the favorites going forward.  Their away trip to Suwon FC could be telling, but they finish the month of August with three straight home games with a good chance to maintain where they are in the table.
- Branko Belan

Grade: A-

Seoul E-Land

Under normal circumstances it would be an okay season for any team so far this year. However, compared to the last two seasons, Seoul E-Land have completely transformed into a dark horse in the 2020 K League 2. A powerhouse upfront, Seoul have the likes of Leandro, who is running the show for them at the moment. They have had some problems, and some slight issues at the back, which has led to some results not going their way. Their defence is the only reason they are not getting an 'A' in this grading. However, they have already bettered their number of wins from last year, and we are only halfway through the year. Seoul have a big business-end of the season now, they need to keep on trucking along if they are to reach the promised land of a playoff spot.
- Michael Redmond

Grade: B+

Bucheon FC 1995

Better than anyone predicted at the start of the season. But a handful of good performances have shown what "could be" and the regular poor defeats and draws have shown that they are under performing. If they can just learn to finish and take their chances then Bucheon really can be a play-off team.
- George Slade

Grade: B

Gyeongnam FC

Despite not living up to pre-season expectations, and starting the season very slowly the Reds' are just starting to click into gear. They are ramping up the pressure on those around them as the season approaches its business end.
- James Edrupt

Grade: B-

Daejeon Hana Citizen

It's difficult not think about Daejeon's sizeable transfer budget and busy winter window when assessing their on-field performances in the first half of the season. The Purples have under-performed but injuries to key individuals has not helped, such as Connor Chapman, goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun, and centre backs Lee Woong-hee and Hwang Do-yeon. But manager Hwang Sun-hong has to be culpable for some errors in team selection and tactics. There was an insistence on playing a back three with wing backs, despite not having the right personnel, and questionable loyalty to goalkeeper Kim Jin-young despite several errors. Daejeon have conceded far too many goals and have given up leads to drop points on a number of occasions. Had Citizen not had thrown away leads against Gyeongnam, not once but twice, and Anyang, and Jeonnam then they would have nine points more than they do now and would be sitting top of the league.
- Paul Neat

Grade: C

Jeonnam Dragons

Middle of the pack for pretty much everything other than goals conceded. Struggle to score, meaning games are often dull. Recently though, Jeonnam concede more goals but score slightly more. Manager Jeon Kyung-jun needs to shake things up
- Joshua Higgins

Grade: C

Chungnam Asan

At first glance, the grade may seem a bit high for a club at the wrong end of the table, but they have been far more competitive of late and that was on display once again fairly recently against Jeju United despite falling to defeat.  Philip Hellquist has proven his worth since coming back from injury, and now leads the team with four goals to his credit.  Lee Ki-hyun has re-established himself as the first choice between the sticks, and it is no surprise that the team's fortunes have started to turn lately with his insertion into the lineup.  Lee Jae-keun, despite being only 23 years old, has played an important role in the team's offensive scheme and is one to watch as the season progresses.  Defensively, the team has had a tendency to become unraveled, as a lot of the talent is still quite raw and has had a major hand in why they shipped 23 goals after fourteen matches, the most in the division.  Park Dong-hyuk is doing a good job with limited resources, but Asan will be no more than a spoiler team for the rest in the division moving forward.
- Branko Belan

Grade: C

FC Anyang

A team might say have been slightly unlucky. Anyang have only recorded four wins this season, but a lot of them have been high scoring fixtures. The side has scored 16 goals this year. It is their defence which lets them down. They have conceded 23 goals this year, the third-most in the league.  Ghanaian striker Acosty has shown promise for the side this year. He has already got five goals to his name. K League veteran defender, Nilson Junior has also come up with a few assists for the side. Anyang has lost a lot of points, due to late equalizers, or wins from other sides. It shows that they need more composure in finishing a game off and defending till the end.
- Michael Redmond

Grade: E+

Ansan Greeners

A team that was pushing for a playoff spot last year only to be denied on the last day, has had an awful fall from grace. With only three recorded wins this year. The team are battling with FC Anyang and Chungnam Asan, for 10th spot. They sold all their best players in the winter, so they have only given their fans nine goals to cheer about this year. Also, conceding 22 goals in 18 games is something to be quite concerned about. The side has lost more than any other team in the league. They do not have anyone to put the ball in the back of the net for them, Felipe and Kim Ryun-do are their top scorers, with two goals each. Things need to turn around quickly for Ansan, if they don't want to be looking up at the rest of the league, come November. The only thing saving them from an F grade is recorded victories against Suwon FC, and Seoul E-Land, two of the higher positioned teams.
- Michael Redmond

Grade: E-

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